NASCAR, despite its driving-in-circles crash-porn reputation, can produce some of the most entertaining racing out there, even if a lot of it is manufactured in the hopes of attracting viewers and sponsors. Typically, the racing is close and features plenty of passing, crashing, and the occasional fist fight for those that can’t split their time between hockey and motorsports.
Things can get especially riveting when NASCAR’s drivers are forced into unfamiliar scenarios, like driving on a road course. The NASCAR Sprint Cup, the sport’s premier class only turns right and left twice a year, at Watkins Glen and Sonoma. This past weekend, The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway provided a tense and dramatic final lap that led to Tony Stewart earning his first win since the 2013 season.
Stewart was leading going into the last few laps, but Denny Hamlin cut the gap to less than a second. On the final lap, Hamlin passed Stewart on the inside of turn 7 to take the lead, only to go wide at turn 11. Stewart’s move back into the lead pushed Hamlin into the wall, but Hamlin still managed to hold onto second place.
Stewart is retiring at the end of the season, so this win proved to be an emotional one for him, his team, and apparently former driver and current Fox Sports commentator Darrell Waltrip. There was plenty of celebrating on and off the track after the race.
Stewart missed the first eight races of the season while recovering from an off-season back injury and is currently in 32nd place in the championship. Because of the way NASCAR decides its championships, he’ll need to end the regular season 30th or higher if he wants a shot at finishing his career on top.
2015 Nascar Sprint Cup Series Camry | 2015 NYIAS | Autoblog Short Cuts