FINISHED LIKE A CHAMP
Mired in an 84-race drought dating back to
the summer of 2013, Tony Stewart seemingly
came out of nowhere to win at Sonoma Raceway in
June. With his victory at the 1.99-mile road course,
Stewart took a major step toward locking up a berth
in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – a
feat that had seemed highly improbable before that
afternoon in Northern California.
Stewart missed the first eight races of 2016
while recovering from a back injury suffered during
the offseason. In the first few races after returning
to the seat of his No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart was
mostly a non-factor. The three-time NASCAR Sprint
Cup Series champion’s breakthrough at Sonoma
seemingly lit a fire under his team, however, and
Stewart enjoyed a solid if unspectacular second
half of the season.
While Stewart was never the favorite to win the
championship in his final season behind the wheel,
he was at least part of the discussion – something
almost no one expected when he was laid up in a
hospital over the winter.