CONCORD, N.C. - Tony Stewart won his first race as a team owner Saturday night, breaking through for a $1 million payday with a victory in the annual All-Star race.
Stewart passed Matt Kenseth with two laps to go of a thrilling final 10-lap shootout to win his first All-Star event in 11 previous starts. It was the first victory since he left Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of last year, after two championships and 10 successful seasons, to become co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing.
In just six months, Smoke has turned his new toy into a championship contender. It was the first win for the organization, which was known as Haas CNC Racing for its first seven seasons.
The win at Lowe's Motor Speedway was in front of co-owner Gene Haas, who was at the track for the first time since the completion of a 16-month federal prison term for tax fraud.
"Man, he's not going to miss a week now," Stewart said. "He gets here and we win a race."
Stewart became the second driver/owner to win the All-Star race, joining Geoff Bodine, who won in 1994.
His crew urged him to the climb the fence in celebration - a tradition he started several years ago - but the driver who turns 38 next week declined.
His crew climbed for him.
Kenseth finished second and was followed by Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.
The format of the Sprint-sponsored event was once again changed, this time to cut the 100-lap race into four segments that culminated with a 10-lap sprint to the finish. It was a nod to races past, which had a history of dramatic dash-for-the-cash finishes.
It didn't disappoint.