A race in California wine country was just what Clint Bowyer needed to taste victory for the first time on a road course.
Bowyer held off Tony Stewart’s charge in the final laps of the race to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350, at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday (June 24) afternoon.
The win on the Sonoma road course didn’t come as a total surprise for Bowyer. In six previous races at the California race track, he had finished in third place on four occasions. Bowyer said that he has always felt comfortable racing at Sonoma Raceway.
“We’ve had some good runs here,” he said. “This is probably quietly been one of my favourite racetracks.”
Liking the track is one thing, but outlasting the other NASCAR drivers is a completely different story according to Bowyer.
“I knew it was going to be a tall order,” he said. “Because I knew Kurt (Busch) had a good car and I started to get away from him but there was some guys out there that took tires and I looked in the mirror and the old grizzly himself, Tony (Stewart), was one of them, and he was in third place.”
The race finished under green-white-checkered flag conditions caused by a caution period when Busch, who had chased Bowyer for over 20 laps, crashed into a tire barrier. Busch’s damaged car not only couldn’t keep up with Bowyer’s machine, but also left him as easy prey for Stewart, who trailed the race winner by less than a second at the finish line. Bush ended up finishing third in the race.
Bowyer had the highest praise for Busch. “That boy can drive. He had me on my toes. He had me scared to death today.”
After 26 of 36 races, Matt Kenseth leads the Sprint Cup standings by 11 points. Greg Biffle jumps into second place and Dale Earnhardt Jr. drops to third.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule closes out the month of June with the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, Saturday (June 30) evening.