Bowyer holds on, wins at Sonoma
Bowyer dominated Sunday’s race by leading 70 of the 112 laps. Defending race winner Busch, in an unsponsored car, was all over the bumper of Bowyer’s Toyota late and got a final shot at taking the win away when caution flew with four laps remaining.
Only Busch damaged his car with roughly eight laps to go, and he worried the entire caution period whether his Chevrolet was ruined and had no chance of catching Bowyer through the two-lap overtime sprint to the finish.
Bowyer raced side-by-side with Busch at the green flag, then cleared Busch and pulled away for the win.
“Kurt raced me clean, he bumped me and roughed me up, but never did anything to jeopardize either one of us,” Bowyer said.
Bowyer, who left Richard Childress Racing at the end of last season to join MWR, had to walk to Victory Lane to celebrate with his new crew after his car ran out of gas.
“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.”
It was a strong day all-around for MWR, which got a fourth-place finish from Brian Vickers, who was back to NASCAR after racing last weekend at Le Mans. Martin Truex Jr. led 15 laps, and was running in the top 10 until a late-race incident dropped him to 22nd.
“Everybody is just working together,” Bowyer said. “That’s something we are very proud of.”
Tony Stewart passed Busch on the final lap to claim second, but said it was because Busch’s car was struggling.
“Every time he would go in the corner, the rear end would shift, and it was running him to the outside of the track on entry and it was screwing his corner up,” Stewart said.
Busch wound up third. He was emotional afterwards—Busch missed Pocono earlier this month because he was suspended by NASCAR for verbally abusing a media member—and said he was thrilled to compete for the win in an underfunded, unsponsored Phoenix Racing car.
Busch, who has struggled with his temper on and off the track, saw a silver lining in his strong finish.
“If I can get my head on straight here, and after the race, then I could be able to race every weekend and go for victories,” Busch said.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon finished fifth and sixth. Greg Biffle was seventh, followed by pole-sitter Marcos Ambrose, AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano.
Cambridge native Matt Kenseth finished 13th and kept his lead in the points race. He leads Biffle, his Roush Fenway teammate, by 11 points.