NASCAR: Stewart gets first win in three years

NASCAR: Stewart gets first win in three years

Cup Series

NASCAR: Stewart gets first win in three years

By

Tony Stewart ended a three-year NASCAR Sprint Cup victory drought by winning under huge pressure from Denny Hamlin at Sonoma.

Having qualifying 10th before dropping down the order in the middle of the race, Stewart chose to make an early final pit stop to pre-empt a potential debris caution.

The yellow came and Stewart stayed out as all the front-runners pitted, enabling him to take the lead with 20 laps to go. With the bunched-up pack behind him, the Stewart-Haas Chevrolet driver made it through another caution and restart in the lead when Michael McDowell parked his car on the side of the track.

After holding out until the final lap, it looked like the win was lost when Hamlin took Stewart on the inside to steal first place, before Stewart snatched it back with only two corners to go.

The win was Stewart’s first since June 2013 and gave him hope of reaching the Chase in his final season before retiring.

“Especially at a place you’re going to for the last time, it means a bunch,” Stewart said. “It’s special, trust me.”

“I made mistakes the last two laps,” Stewart admitted. “I had just a little bit too much rear brake for Turn 7, and wheel-hopped it two laps in a row. But, I felt a nudge when I got down there and (Hamlin) knew where it was and he did the right thing doing it there; but if I could get to him, he knew what was coming. He told me he was proud of me. He knows what it means. We were teammates for a long time and we respect each other a lot.”

“Tony has been ultra-fair to me quite a bit,” said Hamlin. “He’s treated me really well my entire career. It’s not like I gave him one by any means. He gave us an opportunity to move him, we did, and then we got it back. It’s just part of the deal.”

Having missed eight races at the start of the year due to back injuries from a pre-season dune buggy crash, Stewart must get into the top 30 in the championship to be Chase eligible regardless of his win status but the Sonoma victory brings him up to 32nd.

The closing lap fight livened up an otherwise uneventful race. Martin Truex Jr. joined Hamlin in pressuring Stewart before contact between them with eight laps to go.

Joey Logano finished third, with polesitter Carl Edwards, hampered by a long third stop, fourth ahead of Truex.

Road course expert AJ Allmendinger was a contender for the win before receiving a penalty for an uncontrolled tire at his final pit stop. It set him back to 35th but he made it up to 14th by the time the flag fell.

Kurt Busch had a disappointing race, struggling with a car that swung toward oversteer and losing six places from his qualifying position to finish 10th.

Aside from the McDowell caution and two for debris, the only other yellow came when Clint Bowyer’s HScott Chevrolet caught fire due to an electrical problem just six laps into the race.

RESULTS – 110 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car
1 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
3 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford
4 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota
6 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
7 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
8 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
9 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
10 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
12 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
13 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
14 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
15 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford
16 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
17 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
18 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford
19 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
21 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
22 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
23 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford
24 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet
25 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford
26 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
27 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
28 Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
29 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford
30 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford
31 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota
32 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota
33 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
34 Cole Whitt Premium Motorsports Toyota
35 Dylan Lupton BK Racing Toyota
36 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
37 Patrick Carpentier Go FAS Racing Ford
38 Josh Wise The Motorsports Group Chevrolet
39 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet
40 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet

Quotes by NASCAR Wire Service

Originally on Autosport.com

MX-5 Cup | Round 2 – Daytona | Livestream

More RACER