Tony Stewart won the rain shortened Auto Club 400 at Fontana today.
After Kyle Busch led the first 80 or so laps, Stewart ran him down and blew past to take the lead. Smoke made a couple of hard passes along the way, diving down to the bottom of the track then drifting up to cut off slower drivers such as Kevin Harvick and Busch.
The maneuver, fair but a tad brusk, brought some griping from Harvick and booth announcer Daryl Waltrip, who seems to have forgotten his own ruthless style of driving during his career. Stewart complained over his radio that Harvick was being less than courteous to a faster driver. So make of it what you will, I suppose.
I'm reminded of a comment Stewart made during the early stages of last year's Chase. Tony stated in an interview that he had been overly nice all season, not roughing up other drivers and giving what he felt was more than his share of on track courtesy. Once in the chase, Stewart said he was calling in all the markers owed him and would take what he wanted when he wanted it. That hard driving style won him the season's title. And he seems to be carrying that over into this season as well.
Once in the lead today, Stewart never looked back. As rain approached, the track went under a yellow caution flag. Inexplicably, second place driver Denny Hamlin was brought into the pits by crew chief Darien Grubb. That decision cost Hamlin a finish out of the top ten. Announcers tried to sugar coat the blunder by Grubb, but this is the same sort of miscalculations that cost the affable crew chief his job with Stewart at the end of last season.
Tony is the first multiple race winner this season. This is a hot start for the talented and driven Stewart and could be a harbinger of another serious run at the Sprint Cup title for the three time champion.