Sonoma Raceway will add two NASCAR legends to its Wall of Fame during the upcoming Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event weekend, June 24-26.
Tony Stewart and Ernie Irvan will become the newest members of the raceway’s Wall of Fame, joining fellow NASCAR stars Rusty Wallace (2005), Mark Martin (2005), Jeff Gordon (2006), Ricky Rudd (2007) and Rick Hendrick (2010).
In more than 15 years of competition on the Sonoma Raceway road course, Stewart has become known as one of the most talented drivers on the challenging circuit. In recognition of his accomplishments, and to honor his final year as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Stewart will be inducted into the Sonoma Raceway Wall of Fame.
In 17 NASCAR premiere series start at Sonoma, Stewart has posted two victories and nine top-10 finishes. He is one of five two-time winners at Sonoma Raceway and has completed more than 1,800 laps around the 12-turn road course. The three-time premiere series champion is certainly ranked among the very best overall road-course racers with seven road-course wins in 31 premiere series attempts; compiling 12 top fives and 19 top 10s.
“I have a long history at Sonoma and a lot of memories there, and to be inducted into the Wall of Fame is a real honor," said Stewart, who made his first Sonoma start in 1999. “I’ve always loved the challenge of road-course racing and I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished at Sonoma. Hopefully we can put a third win on the board this weekend."
Irvan made his mark in Sonoma with two victories, including one of the road course’s most memorable. In 1992, Irvan claimed his first Sonoma win in the Save Mart Supermarkets 300 after being black-flagged at the start for crossing the starting line ahead of pole winner Ricky Rudd. He came back to pass 41 cars to take the checkered flag.
Just two years later, Irvan became the first two-time winner of a NASCAR Cup event in Sonoma, winning by the largest margin of victory in raceway history (9.56 seconds) over Geoffrey Bodine.
"It's a real honor to be inducted to the Wall of Fame. It’s basically my home track and I always loved going home to race there," said Irvan, who posted six top-10 finishes and one pole position in 10 Sonoma starts. “When I first started driving the #4 car, I didn't even know I could road race. I had a great race car and a great crew chief, and that gave me a lot of confidence."
The Sonoma Raceway Wall of Fame is designed to honor those who have excelled not only in their form of motor racing, but more importantly, in Sonoma. Each inductee is recognized during a ceremony with a marble plaque engraved with his/her likeness. The engraving is also added to the Wall of Fame, which is located behind the main grandstand.
“Tony and Ernie have played a part in some of Sonoma Raceway’s most memorable races and dramatic finishes. We are proud to honor their legacy and thank them for the great memories they’ve given our race fans," said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager.
The Wall of Fame includes competitors from all forms of motor racing featured in Sonoma, including NASCAR, NHRA, AMA, open-wheel cars, sports cars and more. It will also include those who have made significant contributions to the raceway over the years.