Back-to-back a possibility for Stewart Tony Stewart addresses the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/The Racing Experts

By Steven Ellis
Staff Reporter
July 2, 2016
sellis@theracingexperts.net



DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.


If Tony Stewart wins Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, it will mark the third time this season in the Sprint Cup Series a driver wins two consecutive races and the eighth time in Stewart’s career he wins two consecutive race weekends.


Stewart most recently accomplished the feat in 2011, winning back-to-back races at Martinsville and Texas.

A win in the Coke Zero 400 would mark the three-time Sprint Cup champion's fifth win in the event and first since 2012.

Breaking Through One week ago, NASCAR Nation got to see Tony Stewart celebrate in victory lane. If you told me that was going to happen over the past two years, I would have probably ignored you for life.


Yet, here we are.


Tony Stewart won another NASCAR race. In what seemed like the impossible, the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet was able to outmuscle Denny Hamlin and win at Sonoma. And he has the chance to do it again this weekend in Daytona.

Winning is such a strange thing for people who have followed Stewart over the last three years.


Little did we know Tony would go on an 84-race winless drought after his victory at Dover in 2013. It was a race he maybe didn't deserve.

But with his leg and back injuries, as well as the terrible day that saw the loss of Kevin Ward's young life, it looked like, in reality, it was it.




Tony Stewart crosses the start/finish line at Sonoma Raceway Sunday.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Tony missed the start of the season, after the worst statistical full season of his career, it didn't look like the tide was going to turn anytime soon.

Two top-ten finishes in the first seven races was actually a good number based off of what we've seen of him late, but all those late 20/30th place finishes really put a damper on things. Yes, he had to get to 30th in points and grab a win to move into the Chase, but that looked impossible. He had some minor success, but no real consistency.


And then Sonoma happened.


It was a good weekend to begin with for Smoke. He was inducted into the Sonoma Wall of Fame, a place he'd won at back in 2001 and 2005. But since then, the once strong road course driver began losing his edge on the twisty tracks, with just three top-five finishes since his win in 2005. This was not the Tony Stewart we were used to watching, and despite a glimmer of hope this weekend, especially with a tenth place starting position, it didn't seem realistic to bet on him.


Progression Watching him drop to 17th late in the race made it tougher to watch. No matter who you are, you probably wanted to see Tony achieve the same success that Jeff Gordon did, winning a race in his final season. But it really just looked impractical this time around.




Tony Stewart celebrates his vicrtory in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday.

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

And then a good strategy call put him in the lead. I still didn't seem that hopeful, because we had seen how many times different pit strategies screwed him last year. Well, this time it was a different man aboard the box, and Michael Bugarewicz looks like a genius now.


Denny Hamlin wanted the win, and when he bumped him for first place, it got even more intense. Tony was having a blast and nobody expected him to back down for the win.


And in classic Tony fashion, he pushed Hamlin in the wall and won the race.


If you weren't going crazy after that, I question your love for the sport.


Proven Tony Stewart is a NASCAR race winner. That's something I, and possibly many of you, never expected to say ever again in the final season of his incredible career. This may be the last time we ever get to see him do this, but if so, it couldn't have come in any other way.


The 2011 Chase was easily the most excited I've ever been watching a sport. The 2005 Brickyard win is still melted in my mind. The 2002 title still brings me back goosebumps. The flip in 2001 is still tough to watch 15 years later. The ups, the downs, the excitement, the sadness. This race won't be forgotten.


Congrats Tony Stewart on one of the most popular wins in recent NASCAR history. Go kick some ass and show the world you're not done just yet.


Will Tony Stewart finish inside the top-ten in points this year?
Yes.
No.
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