Bowyer Shines in Sonoma

Clint Bowyer

''To switch teams like I did was a huge risk and a chance for me, and it was a chance to showcase my talents.'' (Photo: Getty Images)


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Clint Bowyer held off Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch to win Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma.

Bowyer scored his first career road course victory as well as his initial win for Michael Waltrip Racing.

''I'm super excited for everybody involved,'' Bowyer said. ''To switch teams like I did was a huge risk and a chance for me, and it was a chance to showcase my talents.''

He fought off a hard charging Busch in the closing stages of the 110-lap race around the 1.99-mile road course to take the sixth Sprint Cup Series victory of his career.

''Everybody is just working together,'' Bowyer said. ''That's something we are very proud of.''

Stewart slipped by Busch on the last lap to take the runner-up spot for the second straight week.

“I was really pleased with it to be honest,” said Stewart. “The last two days we have not been real happy with our balance and just couldn't seem to get the speed that a lot of the guys that were putting up big numbers at the top of the board were able to run. We couldn't even run within a second of them the last two days.

“To end up running second like this is just a really good effort for all of our guys. Really proud of (crew chief) Steve Addington, never gave up this weekend.”

Busch, who also competed in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Road America and notched a top 10 run, turned in another stellar effort on Sunday. He nearly drove his Phoenix Racing Chevrolet to a second straight win in the event but was still proud of the third-place performance.

“Today we came home third,” said Busch, who was emotional in his post race comments. “Chevrolet and Monster Energy and tag his or her, our three big brands with us this year -- I'm a bit choked up. I just made a little mistake there in turn 11. Those tires have never been bolted down, ever and I clipped a set of tires and it broke the front suspension and the rear panel bar and I couldn't compete for the win after that; so a mistake there.

“Our guys, but if we pulled it into victory lane with all-red car and no sponsor, here in California, I thought it was Team Tiger Blood with Charlie Sheen around.”

Brian Vickers gave MWR two drivers in the first five with Jimmie Johnson rounding out the first five.

Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, pole sitter Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Joey Logano completed the top 10.

Gordon was considered a pre-race favorite and did lead 13 laps on Sunday. But he ran out of fuel and was shuffled back in the field before charging in the second half of the race for the sixth-place finish.

Pole sitter Marcos Ambrose was another contender for victory. However, after leading the opening 11 laps, he dropped back and was never a factor again for the lead.

The race started with an 82-lap green flag stretch before the first caution flag flew. While there were a few spins and incidents in the closing stages, this year’s event was nothing like the previous two races in Sonoma.

Tomy Drissi slammed the wall on lap 82 for the first caution. The Tommy Baldwin Racing driver was uninjured in the incident that bunched up the field.

Caution number two came out with four laps left in the race after Kyle Busch tangled with Paul Menard. That set up a green-white-checkered finish but Bowyer easily got the jump on the restart and drove to the checkered flag.

The pair of cautions was the fewest in the track’s history.

Matt Kenseth still leads the Sprint Cup Series point standings by 11 over Greg Biffle. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnson and Stewart round out the top five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Kentucky Speedway for next Saturday night’s Quaker State 400.

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