Stewart dedicates win to fallen comrade

Sunday, July 9, 2000 – Tony Stewart, a three-time series winner the year before as a fresh-faced rookie, won for the third time in his sophomore season when he won the rain-shortened 300 NASCAR premier series race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

The call to keep Stewart on the track during the second of two red flags for rain proved decisive when officials ended the race 27 laps shy of its scheduled 300-lap distance. Stewart led 156 of the 273 laps completed in his No. 20 Pontiac for Joe Gibbs Racing. Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau and Jeff Gordon completed the top five.

Driver Kenny Irwin was killed during practice two days earlier at NHMS when his car struck the wall in Turn 3 and overturned. In spite of the fatality, which came approximately eight weeks after the death of Adam Petty in almost exactly the same place on the track, NASCAR continued with practice and qualifying.  Irwin was NASCAR Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series in 1998.

In the same race a year earlier, Stewart had lost the race at NHMS despite dominating when he ran out of gas with less than three laps remaining.

Jeff Burton, winner of three consecutive July races at New Hampshire, was involved in an accident with Chad Little and finished 11th.

Fitting finish for Stewart at Sonoma

Sunday, June 26, 2016 – Three-time NASCAR premier series champion Tony Stewart won for the 39th and final time of his career, capturing the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Stewart led the final 22 laps around the 1.99-mile, 11-turn course but briefly lost the top spot, and nearly the race, on the very last lap when Denny Hamlin shot past in Turn 7. Stewart regrouped and chased Hamlin down, then overtook the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in the final turn.

The victory was Stewart’s first since June 2, 2013 and ended a streak of 84 starts without a win.

It was his third career win at Sonoma and his eighth on a road course.

Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top five.

The win kept Stewart’s hopes of qualifying for NASCAR’s playoffs alive by meeting one of two qualifiers. The second, that he be in the top 30 in driver point standings by the cutoff, was eventually accomplished as well.

An injury suffered while driving a sand buggy in January of that year had resulted in Stewart missing the season’s first eight races.

Stewart wins on record-setting night/day

Sunday, May 5, 2002 – It was a race that featured several notable items so perhaps it makes sense that it took two days to complete the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Rain, which delayed the previous day’s scheduled start of the race by two hours, eventually returned after less than 70 laps had been completed and forced officials to postpone the completion of the event until the following day.

Tony Stewart won the race, for the second consecutive year, but had to come from the rear of the field to score the victory after a pre-race engine change negated his third-place qualifying run. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte, eighth in qualifying, also went to the back for a similar issue. And when Johnny Benson suffered a broken rib in Friday night’s Hardee’s 250 Busch race, Joe Nemechek took over the ride, and a third Pontiac was sent to the rear before the Cup race ever got under way.

It was Stewart’s third win at Richmond, site of his first career victory in the series in 1999.

By starting the event, Ricky Rudd tied Terry Labonte for most consecutive starts in the Cup series at 655.

A new sealer put down on the track led to less than ideal racing conditions and as a result, there were a track record 103 laps run under caution and the 14 caution flags tied the track record.

The race was the final Cup start for local favorite Rick Mast in the Junie Donlavey-owned No. 90 Ford. Mast, diagnosed with chronic and acute carbon monoxide poisoning, announced his retirement from competition in January, 2003.