Monday, June 27, 2016

What's next for Tony Stewart following Sonoma win?

Tony Stewart was 100/1 to win the Chase before winning at Sonoma.
LAS VEGAS -- Tony Stewart's Sonoma win on Sunday makes him eligible to be one of the final 16 drivers participating in the seasons final 10 races during the Chase for the Championship. All he has to do now is get himself into 30th-place and he'll be on his way to re-producing the same type of storyline as Kyle Busch last year when he won at Sonoma and it helped propel him to the season title. Stewart is currently in 32nd-place after missing the first eight races, but only needs to make up nine points over the next 10 races.

Before the win, Stewart was listed at 100-to-1 odds to win the 2016 Chase. That number is surely to drop almost in half now that he's so close to making it. How he'll perform from here on out is still a mystery because it was only his third top-10 in eight races and one of those he needed a mid-race replacement driver to finish at Talladega. However, this win could be a jump start for him, a psycholocal boost of sorts after all the tragedy he's endured physically and emotionally the past three seasons.

Sunday's win ended an 84-race winless streak. His last win was at Dover in 2013. Stewart hopes his 2016 story ends up just like Busch's did last year. Following Busch's Sonoma, he would go on to win three of the next four races in July and then eventually winning his first title. Stewart is looking to win his fourth title and what a story it would be if he were to ride off into the sunset a champion in his final season like Peyton Manning or John Elway.

Even if he hadn't won last week he'd still be a good candidate to win Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. He's never won the Daytona 500, and he missed his final attempt this year because of an off-season road racing accident, but he is a four-time winner in the summer race at Daytona, the last one coming in 2012. He's also led 668 laps over 34 Daytona starts which is most among all active drivers. Brian Vickers drove his No. 14 to a 26th-place finish in February. Because most of the cars in restrictor-plate races are so equal, a rejuvenated Stewart might offer value to win at 30-to-1 odds or higher.

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