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Stewart Wins Cup Race At Sonoma Raceway

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 26 2016
Tony Stewart got his first victory of the season Sunday when he won at Sonoma. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

Tony Stewart got his first victory of the season Sunday when he won at Sonoma. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

RacinToday.com

Tony Stewart, who earlier in the week had voiced his displeasure with NASCAR racing said he could not wait to retire from Sprint Cup racing at the end of the season, won Sunday’s Cup race at the Sonoma Raceway road course.

sprint-logo-08The victory, Stewart’s first of the year but eighth on a road course, puts the three-time champion into contention for a season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs – because of missing several races this year because of injury, he needs to win a race and finish in the top 30 in points.

“It’s special, trust me,” Stewart, who was inducted into Sonoma’s wall of fame this weekend, said.

Stewart, 45, took the lead by pitting out of sequence, led the final 22 laps, held off, first, Martin Truex Jr. and then Denny Hamlin, to get the victory.

Hamlin, who led 33 laps, actually passed Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for the lead on the final lap but Stewart came back to push his way back to the lead when Hamlin over-cooked the penultimate turn.

“Looking out the rear-view more than looking out the front,” Hamlin said. “I just slid up a little bit in the middle and it allowed him to get a really good run on me.”

“I made mistakes the last two laps,” Stewart said. “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 he 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.”

Hamlin finished second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Truex third, Joey Logano fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.

The victory popular among both fans and Stewart’s colleagues. Even those who are not Stewart’s teammates.

“It’s cool he got a win,” Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports said. “He was strong throughout the race.  I saw him, I was around him at times and he got the track position and held on.  It’s got to be a nice relief for him.  I was with him last week he was doing his deal running dirt tracks and running the series and stuff like that, doing things that he really enjoys.  Then he comes here and puts on probably his best performance in a good while.  I think he is doing pretty good.”

Logano said, “Overall, it’s really cool for Tony Stewart.  I said earlier that we’re probably witnessing a historic moment right now in NASCAR.  It was a really cool thing for Tony to be able to come back and get that win, obviously it’s the same place Kyle did it last year.  It’s just kind of ironic after he was hurt, so I don’t know what the deal is with Sonoma, but, overall, it’s cool to see Tony get that win here when it’s much needed.  It still shows he’s got what it takes if you give him the right stuff.  He’s gonna push hard when he needs to.  I noticed that from lap one.  I started right next to him and he was hammering right off the bat.  I said, ‘Alright, we’ve got that Tony Stewart today.’  There are two different ones, and it was the aggressive one all day.  Obviously, we saw that going into turn 11, so it’s cool for him.  Overall, like I said, I’m proud of the effort we put into today.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 26 2016
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