DOVER, Del. – Tony Stewart has had an awful start to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, but on Sunday at Dover Int’l Speedway he put all of that behind him.
Stewart drove by Juan Pablo Montoya with three laps left and pulled away to his first victory of the season, something that seemed all but impossible at the start of Sunday’s FedEx 400.
The victory didn’t come without a little bit of controversy. Jimmie Johnson, who dominated the second half of Sunday, was the leader when the caution flag waved on lap 376 when polesitter Denny Hamlin crashed in turns one and two.
All of the lead lap cars pitted, with Montoya leading Johnson and Stewart off pit road. The green flag waved for the final restart with 19 laps left and Johnson jumped the restart by a wide margin, forcing NASCAR to penalize him with a drive-thru penalty.
The penalty against Johnson handed the lead back to Montoya, who was seeking his first Sprint Cup victory on an oval. He looked like he was well on his way to that victory when Stewart suddenly began closing on him with less than 10 laps left.
With five laps left Stewart caught Montoya and began looking for a way around. He first tried going low, but Montoya blocked the low lane. Stewart regrouped and with three laps left took to the high side, getting alongside Montoya in turns one and two and completing the pass for the lead in turn three.
Montoya tried to stay close, but Stewart’s Chevrolet was just too much for Montoya. Stewart drove to his first victory the year, beating Montoya by .788-second.