By Jared Turner
Underestimating Stewart Is Perilous
Just when you thought Tony Stewart might coast to the proverbial finish line in this his final season, think again. Stewart, who missed the first part of the season with a broken back and has mostly struggled since his return, seemingly came out of nowhere at Sonoma Raceway to score what could ultimately be the final victory of his roller-coaster career. And Stewart didn’t just win; he did so in epic fashion by knocking a competitor – in this case Denny Hamlin – out of the way in the final on the final lap. While Stewart is no stranger to Victory Lane at the 1.99-mile road course, Sunday’s triumph was a surprise for the simple fact that the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion hadn’t won a race since June 2, 2013 – an eternity by NASCAR standards. Throw in the fact that on Friday at Sonoma Stewart made no bones about being at peace with his decision to retire at season’s end, and discussed his waning desire to drive a Sprint Cup car every weekend, Sunday’s triumph couldn’t have been any more about of the blue. Then again, don’t forget this is the same Tony Stewart who went 0-for-26 in the 2011 regular season only to rip off five victories in 10 Chase races culminating with a championship-winning drive at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Although Stewart might not be as sharp behind the wheel as he used to be, people underestimate him at their own peril – and Sonoma was a quintessential example of this.
Let ‘Em Fight
Did you see that scrum between John Wes Townley and Spencer Gallagher after the two tangled on the track during the truck race at Gateway? NASCAR needs more of this type of unbridled emotion from today’s overly image-conscious drivers, who all too often are more concerned about keeping their $30 million dollar a year sponsors happy than making their true emotions known.