Gamble propels Stewart to third Sonoma victoryTony Stewart celebrates his victory in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy/The Racing Experts

By Isabel Gonzalez Staff Reporter June 27, 2016

SONOMA, Calif.A gamble by the No. 14 team paid off at the Sonoma Raceway weekend, giving Tony Stewart his first Sprint Cup Series win since 2013.

“This place has meant a lot to me,” he said. “...I’ll be alright if this is the last place I win one,” Stewart said. “I'm going for more, just for the record.  I see pens going crazy.  I'm not saying I'm laying down, I'm saying if that's the only one I get this year, then I'll be content.” Stewart’s victory unofficially places him 32nd in driver’s standings, nine points away from 30th place. If Stewart can break into the top-30 in driver’s points, he would be eligible for a chance at one of the 16 spots in the Chase.
Running 18th, Stewart pulled onto pit road with 25 laps to go.   “At the end of the day we weren't going to have an opportunity to win just doing what everybody else did,” said crew chief Mike Bugarewicz. “We had to take a chance.” Stewart caught the break he needed when the third caution of the day came out on lap 87 for debris between Turns 6 and 7.

Tony Stewart races during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy/The Racing Experts

“I think almost every race that's won here basically on a strategy deal is just a lucky call by anybody,” Bugarewicz said. “You know, if it's a ten-lap shootout and everybody has tires, then the best guy earns it.  But when it comes down to something like what happened today, I just was fortunate.” With 22 laps remaining, Stewart took the lead. “With about eight to go was the first time I thought, ‘Hey, we might actually have a shot to hold onto this,’ and I actually got a little bit emotional thinking about it while I was driving,” Stewart said. “Once Denny got closing in, it was back to business. You didn't have time to think about wine and flowers and ponies and all that stuff.” Hamlin passed Stewart on the last lap but Stewart regained his lead at turn 11. Sunday’s win was also Bugarewicz’s first career victory atop the pit box. “Every win is sweet whether I'm a race engineer or crew chief or whatever, it's all great,” Bugarewicz said. “But yeah, that part of it hasn't sunk in yet that it was my first, but our goal from the beginning of the year was to get Tony back in victory lane and I'm just so glad that we could get him there.” Stewart said he was happy to get a win for Bugarewicz and the rest of the team before the end of the year. “My guys have been through this whole disastrous roller coaster the last three or four years and never backed down,” he said. “They've never quit on me. There's days I've quit on myself and they're the guys that send you text messages and call you when you get home like hey, this isn't over. “I'm proud for them, and it meant more for me to get it for them than for myself.”

How many more wins will Tony Stewart score this season?
3 or more