Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tony Stewart Finds Victory in Sonoma

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Tony Stewart won the Toyota-Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon for his first win in three years, breaking an 83-race winless streak.

Photo courtesy Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Stewart, who is retiring at the end of the year, had to move Denny Hamlin out of the way in the final turn to pick up the victory.  Stewart said he made mistakes the last two laps, and it almost cost him the victory.

“I had just a little too much rear-brake for turn 7 and wheel-hopped it two laps in a row,” Stewart said.  “[Hamlin] told me he knew it was coming.”

On the final lap, Stewart went high in turn 7, and Hamlin moved him out of the way.  Hamlin went high in turn 11, and he and Stewart made contact, which sent Hamlin into the wall.  

Hamlin said he and Stewart did what they had to do to try and win the race.

“I was looking in the rearview more than I was looking out front,” Hamlin said.  “I just slid up…and allowed him to get a good run on me.  Once he had the inside position, we weren’t going to drag race at that point.  I knew he was going to put me in the wall.”

Stewart said the victory was special because it came in his final race at Sonoma.

“Especially at a place you’re going to for the last time, that means a bunch,” Stewart said.  “They’re all good, it don’t matter where you get them.  Just an awesome job.”

Stewart’s win was very important in helping to get into the Chase.  After missing the first eight races of the season following an off-season back injury, Stewart needed to get a win and finish the regular season in the top 30 in points.  Following Sunday’s victory, Stewart sits 32nd in points, just 9 points out of 30th.

Unofficial results:
1. Tony Stewart
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Joey Logano
4. Carl Edwards
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ryan Newman
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Kurt Busch
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. Kyle Larson
13. Jimmie Johnson
14. AJ Allmendinger
15. Brad Keselowski
16. Paul Menard
17. Jamie McMurray
18. Greg Biffle
19. Danica Patrick
20. Matt Kenseth
21. Chase Elliott
22. Austin Dillon
23. Ryan Blaney
24. Casey Mears
25. Trevor Bayne
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
27. Aric Almirola
28. Regan Smith
29. Landon Cassill
30. Chris Buescher
31. Matt DiBenedetto
32. David Ragan
33. Brian Scott
34. Cole Whitt
35. Dylan Lupton
36. Michael Annett
37. Patrick Carpentier
38. Josh Wise
39. Michael McDowell
40. Clint Bowyer

Photo courtesy Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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