Big congrats to my boy Tony Stewart for winning the 2016 Toyota/Save Mart 350 today at Sonoma Raceway.
The win breaks an 84 race winless streak for Stewart but more importantly puts him into position to be in the Chase for the Championship at the end of his final season as a driver. Technically, he needs to gain 9 more points to get above 30th place in the standings, but that shouldn't be much of a problem as after a slow beginning, Tony and his new crew chief seem to be finding their stride.
It's been a brutal couple of years since Stewart won the Sprint Cup Championship. He lost most of a season with a broken leg, then during his return had a tragedy on a dirt track where another driver lost his life and the driver's family tried to take Stewart to court over the death. And just prior to this season, Stewart crushed a vertebrae in his back in a recreational driving incident, only just returning to the track a few weeks ago.
But my boy's back in it now. I was so pumped to see him win the race today -- leading the last few laps, he was passed by Denny Hamlin on the last lap only to bull his way past Hamlin on the final turn to win the race. Like when he won his last Championship -- he won because he refused to lose and when push comes to shove, literally, Smoke's the guy I want behind the wheel.
He's an old school driver's driver, one of the reasons A.J. Foyt allowed Stewart to bring his number 14 back into NASCAR after Foyt stopped driving.
Don't know if Tony's got a shot at the title this season. Such a fairy tale might be too much to hope for. But at least I've got someone to root for the rest of the year.