In a day that arose with smoke, it ended with Smoke in victory lane as Tony Stewart does a bump and run to Denny Hamlin coming off the final turn at Sonoma Raceway to win the Toyota Save Mart 350. Hamlin finished second, followed by, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and Martin Truex Jr. This win by Stewart snaps a three year winless streak.
Stewart talks about the final couple of laps that led to him losing the lead, but regaining it in the final turn. "I made mistakes the last two laps. I had just a little bit too much rear brake for Turn 7, and wheel-hopped it two laps in a row. But, I felt a nudge when I got down there and he knew where it was and he did the right thing doing it there; but if I could get to him, he knew what was coming. He told me he was proud of me. He knows what it means. We were teammates for a long time and we respect each other a lot.”
Denny Hamlin recalls the final laps from his perspective. “Tony (Stewart) was doing a good job maintaining his tires, a good job of running consistent laps there. Really he gave me an opportunity to get close. On the second to last lap he wheel hopped into (turn) seven, allowed us to get close and I just did a poor job of getting through 11. I was expecting to really drive in deep and I really thought that was going to happen and he did, but I also left the bottom open and that was a bad mistake on my part.”
The Toyota Save Mart 350 saw 12 lead changes among eight drivers. Hamlin led the most laps with a total of 33, followed by Carl Edwards (24), Tony Stewart (22), AJ Allmendinger (20), Danica Patrick, Paul Menard, and Kevin Harvick led three, and Kyle Busch led two.
The caution flag flew four times for 10 laps. The flag flew twice for accidents and for debris.
Kevin Harvick maintains a 34 point lead over Kurt Busch, followed by Carl Edwards (-52), Brad Keselowski (-56), and Joey Logano (-69).
The Chase Grid is now a battle to be in thhe top-15 in points. Despite his win today, Stewart is nine points away from 30th to be considered in the Chase. When Stewart gets in the top-30, Kasey Kahne would be on the outside looking in, and Jamie McMurray would have the final spot.
The Toyota Save Mart 350 lasted 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 43 seconds. The average speed was 80.966 mph. The margin of victory was .625 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Daytona International Speedway for the annual Fourth of July spectacle. Coverage from Daytona will begin on Thursday, June 30, on the NBC Sports Network for the first practice at 3 pm Eastern.