[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”238″][/media-credit]Clint Bowyer held off Tony Stewart and won Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350race at Sonoma, CA. This was Bowyer’s first win of the season and the first win since joining Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR).
“I’m super excited for everybody involved. To switch teams like I did was a huge risk and a chance for me, and it was a chance to showcase my talents.” Bowyer said.
The final yellow flag came out on lap 104 after Kyle Busch and Paul Menard spun setting up the final overtime green-white-checkered finish.
Bowyer restarted first with Kurt Busch running in second and Stewart in third. Busch had something broken in the rear of his car and Stewart had fresher tires.
Bowyer got a great restart and held off Busch through the final laps until Stewart made the pass on Busch during the final lap. Stewart made one last run on Bowyer for the lead before the finish line but he did not have enough of a run and was out of time.
“We started too far back, but I think myself and Brian Vickers probably had two of the best cars. Obviously the No. 51 (Kurt Busch) and the No. 15 (Clint Bowyer) were really strong all day too. Glad we got those cautions at the end that got us bunched up. That got us some spots.” Stewart said.
Kurt Busch finished third, Brian Vickers fourth and Jimmie Johnson finished fifth.
Kurt Busch drove hard and clean race for several laps, even nudging Bowyer for the lead several times. But Busch had something to brake in the rear of the car and Busch was unable to keep the pace needed to challenge for the lead in the final laps.
An emotional Busch summed up his day.
“It’s an amazing day, when you can do what we did. I’m a little choked up because A: We were in position. B: I was very considerate to Bowyer, who was going for his first win with the new team. And then C: which is most important, I made a mistake, I got into those tires in turn 11.” Busch said. “I’m just glad we brought it home third.”
High hopes for capturing their first victory of the season where in the minds of Marcos Ambrose and Jeff Gordon. Starting 1-2, both drivers led the race early and then has their own issues with handling and running out of fuel for Gordon.
Ambrose finished 8th.
“We missed it bad and we did good to recover and get a top-10 out of it. We will take it and move on. We got the pole and had a lot of speed; we just missed it for the race. We were slow. It was just terrible. We had no speed in the car and we paid the price.” Ambrose said.
Gordon battled back from 15th after his fuel issue to finish 6th.
“We went about a half-of-a lap too far there on that one run. I think we made the car a little bit better, and just used a little bit more fuel in that second run, and ran out unfortunately. It never fails, you run out just as you pass pit entrance. We were lucky to get back to pit road, and get it fueled up.” Gordon said. “Luckily we had enough laps to slowly work our way up into the top-10, I guess we ended up sixth.”
Last week’s winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running mid pack until the final restart. Earnhardt Jr. spun along with Aric Almirola, Regan Smith and several other cars. Earnhardt Jr. finished 23rd and falls one spot in the series standings to third, -14.
“We had new tires and we were running good and restarted 13th. So, if it had been somebody else getting wrecked at the end (instead of him) maybe we would have finished in the Top-10.” Earnhardt Jr. said.
Matt Kenseth’s 13th place finish was enough to move him into the lead in the series standings by 11 points over Greg Biffle, who finished 7th.
The race had two caution flags for 10 laps (lap 82 and lap 104), the fewest in track history for the Sprint Cup Series.
|Unofficial Race Results|
|Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sonoma, CA|
|22||–||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||23|
|23||–||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||21|
|30||–||26||Josh Wise *||Ford||14|
|41||–||33||Stephen Leicht *||Chevrolet||3|