Shane Stewart Will Be Remembered As A Gold Cup Winner
The night before, he barely missed the preliminary win in a close battle with Kyle Hirst.
This was Stewart's eighth World of Outlaws win of the season and fourth in the last month. The Larson/Marks driver has been on a red-hot streak.
To win the Gold Cup Race of Champions, Stewart had to battle two tough locals: Justin Sanders, who led the first 11 laps, and Hirst, who got the better of the World of Outlaws regulars in the first night of the two-night event.
This was a race that Stewart has always wanted to win, coming close a few times in the past and winning the preliminary night's Silver Dollar feature twice. One of these wins came last year. In Saturday's event last year, he started mid-pack in the feature and battled his way to fourth before the night was over.
Stewart passed Sanders in the final corner on the 11th lap after finding superior grip on the bottom groove. After that, Stewart started to run away from the field. Things got sticky in lapped traffic, but a late-race caution on lap 28 put Stewart back in clean air to start the remaining 12 laps of the race.
"When you retire, you are only remembered for the big races you win, and this was one that I've always wanted to win," Stewart said. "We've been close the last few years, and to finally get it means so much to me."
Sanders ran well all weekend against the traveling Outlaws, finishing fifth Friday night and second in Saturday night's feature. He qualified fourth fastest in Flight B and started on the pole. With victory so close, what will one day be seen as a defining weekend for the California native ended up a little disappointing.
"Before this weekend, if you would have told me that I was going to run second and fifth with the Outlaws, I would have been ecstatic," Sanders said. "I made one mistake in traffic. It's heartbreaking. We are happy no doubt, but we're bummed at the same time."
Hirst, who was Friday night's winner, advanced one position from his fourth-place starting spot before claiming the last step on the podium.
Jamie Veal finished fourth, and Willie Croft rounded out the top five after starting outside the top 10 in 11th.
The next five positions were mostly filled by World of Outlaws regulars, including Brad Sweet, who started 13th and finished sixth. Jac Haudenschild crossed the finish line in ninth, and Logan Schuchart completed the top 10.
California locals Carson Macedo and Mitchell Faccinto finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Donny Schatz found himself unable to race his way into the feature for the second consecutive night, using a provisional starting spot of 25th before charging his way to an 11th-place finish. His night was not without adventure, however, as he tangled with Jonathan Allard and spun into the infield midway through the event.
Top 10 Finishers
1. Shane Stewart
2. Justin Sanders
3. Kyle Hirst
4. Jamie Veal
5. Willie Croft
6. Brad Sweet
7. Carson Macedo
8. Mitchell Faccinto
9. Jac Haudenschild
10. Logan Schuchart