Tony Stewart reckons his All-Star win on Saturday night was the most gratifying of his career, as he was able to get the team he co-owns into Victory Lane for the first time.
Nearly 10 months after announcing he was becoming an owner of the team formerly known as Haas CNC Racing, Stewart claimed the squad's first victory in Sprint Cup competition at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
While running under the leadership of team-founder Gene Haas and Joe Custer between 2002 and 2007, the team's best result had been a fifth place by Johnny Sauter at Richmond nearly two years ago.
Haas, who had recently served a prison sentence for tax fraud, attended the weekend's event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, which was his first race since being released last week.
"The most fun part about it from the ownership side was getting some of these guys to Victory Lane that have never been there before," Stewart said. "That's something that, that and getting Gene [Haas] in Victory Lane. Gene [Haas] and Joe Custer, gave me a great opportunity last year when we decided to do this deal, and that's not something that comes around very often.
"So to get those guys in Victory Lane and to get these guys on the team that haven't been to Victory Lane yet, to get them to there for the first time, that means more than a million dollars does to me. It's that gratifying to get this group of guys in Victory Lane."
Stewart's crew chief Darian Grubb believes the team's first win will be a huge confidence booster for the whole squad, ahead of next weekend's 600-mile event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he expects to run just as competitively as he did in the final segment of the All-Star race.
"Hopefully next week we'll come back, they'll all be refreshed," Grubb said. "They'll basically have that monkey off their back. We don't want to lose the monkey; we want him to hang out with us.
"But we're running good every week. We finally got in Victory Lane. They know it's possible now. They saw what Tony can do as a driver and what we can accomplish as a team. So now next week we can come back and do it for 600 miles and the week after and the week after."
In addition to having taken his team's first win, Stewart currently ranks second in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings.