Believe it or not, Tony Stewart’s first win as a driver/owner with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) came five years ago in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Stewart didn’t lead the most laps in that memorable first victory for SHR, but he led the most important ones. Stewart paced the final two circuits around the 1.5-mile oval after overtaking Matt Kenseth for the lead on lap 98 of the 100-lap event. Stewart’s margin of victory over the 2003 Sprint Cup champion was .971 of a second.
The victory was the first for a driver/owner since Ricky Rudd won a point-paying race in October 1998 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It was also the first All-Star Race win for Stewart, who had six top-10 finishes in 10 previous All-Star starts. Stewart became only the second driver/owner to win the All-Star Race, joining Geoff Bodine, who accomplished the feat in 1994.
Since then, Stewart has gone on to notch 16 more victories (15 point-paying wins and the 2012 Budweiser Duel). But that All-Star win in 2009 felt as good as another notable first for Stewart – his first career Sprint Cup victory on Sept. 11, 1999 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
When Stewart finally earned career Sprint Cup win No. 1 at Richmond, he quickly followed it with two more wins in the next eight races. And when Stewart nabbed his All-Star win in 2009, he backed up that victory by collecting four more wins in the 18 races that followed.
In every year that Stewart has competed in the Sprint Cup Series, he’s won at least one race. It’s the longest such streak among active drivers. And in every year Stewart has competed in the Sprint Cup Series, he’s competed in the All-Star Race, as he raced his way into the event by winning the transfer race as a rookie.
As Stewart prepares for his 16th All-Star Race in his 16th Sprint Cup season, the driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS seeks to recapture the momentum his All-Star win from five years ago brought to the No. 14 team.
Using the same No. 14 Chevrolet that propelled Stewart to the pole five races ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth where he led 74 laps before finishing 10th, Stewart in intent on adding another trophy to SHR’s burgeoning trophy case.
With no points and a $1 million payday on the line, the All-Star Race is an event that satisfies both the driver and owner. So, it’s tailor-made for Stewart.
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