Tony Stewart, nicknamed “Smoke,” utilized a daring pass in the last turn on the last lap to take his third Sonoma Toyota/Save Mart 350 victory, the 49th NASCAR Sprint Cup series victory of his career.
Racing at the Napa area road course on Sunday, Stewart started 10th and found himself relegated to the 17th position for most of the race, as he struggled with the handling of his race car. He was struggling most of the season, having no race wins and desperately needed a win, if he was going to make the “Chase for the Championship.”
His luck changed as he quickly moved from the 17th spot to the top spot during caution for debris on the track. He had just completed a scheduled stop for fuel and tires a couple laps before, but the field leaders had not and were in need of fuel and fresh tires. Stewart was able to stay out and assume the top spot. With one lap to go, Denny Hamlin was able to get around Stewart in turn 7, when he bobbled as he entered the turn. Hamlin managed to push Stewart to the side, take the lead and head down the track towards the finish line for what looked to be a sure victory. But, not so fast. Stewart quickly recovered and was in hot pursuit, making the victory clinching pass as they came out of turn 11. He also did the honors of putting Hamlin out to the outside wall. Hamlin recovered with minimal damage, but had to settle for second place with his FedEx Toyota.
The large crowd was all cheers, as Stewart took his victory lap in his Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy SS.