Sonoma Race Report
· No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer won the sixth race of his career and moved to seventh in the points standings.
· No. 55 RK Motors Toyota driver Brian Vickers finished fourth and the No. 55 moved to 12th in owner points.
· No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 22nd and moved to ninth in the points standings.
Clint Bowyer Race Summary: No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer led 71 of 112 laps in a dominating victory Sunday in the 24th annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 on the Sonoma road course. Bowyer survived a green-white-checkered finish and hard charges by Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch to claim his sixth career victory. Bowyer started sixth and took the lead on lap 26. He remained in contention throughout the race that ran caution free during the first 82 laps. Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead 86 of the 112 laps. Brian Vickers finished fourth, rounding out MWR’s stellar performance. The finish moves Bowyer to seventh in the standings. Bowyer’s Toyota carried a decal above the driver’s door honoring 11-year-old Brady Bakken who is battling cancer. The No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team returns to action Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
· Started sixth, led 71 of 112 laps, and won the race by nearly one second over Tony Stewart.
· Sixth career victory and third for MWR.
· Took the lead on lap 26 and held off Stewart and Kurt Busch through green-white-checkered finish.
· Bowyer and MWR teammate Martin Truex led a combined 86 of 112 laps while Brian Vickers
· Bowyer moved to seventh in points.
BOWYER: “Super excited for everybody involved to be in victory lane with this group so early in the season. It’s a dream come true. I’m very proud of all our partners, especially everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). To switch teams like I did was a huge risk and it was obviously a chance for me to showcase my talents. I’m proud of everybody back home at the shop -- thank you guys for building us real good race cars. Thank you to 5-hour ENERGY -- I took one before the race and I needed it. How about them fans.”
Why is this team hitting it so strong? “We’re working together. You know, that’s something that I’m very proud of. All these guys work together and the crew chiefs and engineering staff -- everybody at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) -- that's what it takes. All of our cars run good today and it’s because everybody works together. I want to say hi to 11-year-old Brady Bakken back home. Eleven years old with stage three Lymphoma – hang in there buddy, we’re praying for you and this one is for you.”
What does this victory mean to you? “I’m proud of everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) for making this happen. What a wonderful opportunity at this stage in my career to make this jump and make it work. I’m proud of everybody -- Brian Pattie (crew chief) and everybody on this 5-hour ENERGY Toyota -- it's just awesome.”
How satisfying is it to pick up your first win with your new team? “It’s huge towards the Chase and everything else. This is big for our confidence level, this team. It’s a young organization that’s going to be in this sport a long time and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
OWNER MICHAEL WALTRIP: “I’m so proud of everyone associated with MWR. Clint was the man today holding off Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart. But I’m so proud of Martin Truex Jr. who led so many laps and Brian Vickers finishing fourth was really cool. This day is an exclamation point to all the hard work that has taken place at MWR. There are so many who played a role in this victory. This is for everyone at MWR and all of our partners who’ve supported us so well.”
Brian Vickers Race Summary: No.55 RK Motors Toyota driver Brian Vickers staged a late-race surge to finish fourth in Sunday’s 24th annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on the road course at Sonoma. Vickers started 21st and quickly began gaining positions. He suffered an early pit lane speeding penalty forcing him back to pit lane and dropping him far behind the leaders. Vickers continued to work his way through the field and used the race’s only two cautions to return to contention. He passed five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the final laps to claim fourth place -- his best finish of the season and best career finish at Sonoma. Vickers owns top-five finishes in two of his three races he’s driven the No. 55 in 2012. Vickers returns to the No. 55 Toyota on July 15 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night.
· Started 21st and finished fourth.
· Sunday’s fourth-place finish was a career best at Sonoma – previous best was 14th.
· Vickers has posted two top five finishes (fourth at Sonoma and fifth at Bristol) in three races in
2012 in the No. 55.
· Vickers and MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman finished sixth in the GTE–AM class in the 24 Hours of Le
Mans last weekend in France.
· No. 55 moved to 12th in owner points.
VICKERS: How was getting another top-five finish today? “ It was a great run for us -- just really happy. I haven’t had many Cup races this year, but we’ve made the most of them. Can’t thank the effort by the guys enough. They gave me a great car. It took me a few laps to get used to it. It’s been a while since I’ve driven a big, heavy car. I’ve been racing sports cars. Clearly, I’m still missing that pit limiter because I got caught speeding on pit road. I didn’t see the lights. Clearly I blew threw them. That really hurt us a lot. We drove all the way up to eighth and had to start back over again. The guys never gave up. It was a good top-five for us.”
How where the back-to-back weeks of road racing at Le Mans and Sonoma? “It was good. It was great to run Le Mans and then come here to road race. I learned a lot about road racing. I kind of had to undo some of what I learned (at Le Mans) to get back in these cars. It took me a couple runs to get back to the heavy car with all the horsepower.”
Is this year an audition for a full-time ride next season? “I hope so. If two top-fives doesn’t do it, then I don’t know what will. I can’t take all the credit. Everyone at MWR is putting great cars on the race track. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) has done a great job. All the guys have done a great job. They’ve all made it possible for me to take the RK Motors car and put it in the top-five.”
Martin Truex Jr. Race Summary: No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 22nd in Sunday’s 24th annual Toyota/ Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the road course at Sonoma. Truex led 15 laps and looked to be one of the few cars that would contend for the victory in a race that ran caution free until lap 83. Truex and crew chief Chad Johnston used at three stop-strategy utilizing fresher tires while most of the field chose a two-stop strategy. The NAPA team appeared to be right on course for a top-five finish when Truex and Joey Logano made contact on the final lap. Truex suffered a flat tire and fell from sixth to 22nd within seconds. Truex along with Michael Waltrip Racing teammate and race winner Clint Bowyer led 86 of the race's 112 laps while Brian Vickers finished fourth in the third MWR entry. The result moves Truex to ninth in points. He still holds a 30-point cushion on the final Chase qualifier. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team returns to action Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
· Started fifth and finished 22nd.
· He led twice for 15 laps for a total of 318 laps led in 2012.
· Ran in the top 10 throughout the entire race.
· Owns four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 2012.
TRUEX: “I want to congratulate Michael Waltrip Racing for a great day here at Sonoma. Clint and the 15 guys had the car to beat today. I am so proud of them. We ran a different strategy and for a while there, I thought maybe this was going to be the NAPA team’s day. It wasn’t meant to be, but I am sure glad to see MWR come out on top. When we were coming to the white flag, I thought MWR was going to have three cars in the top 10. We got hit and it caused our tire to go down. I am not too happy about what happened to us. But there is a bright side to this and that’s seeing MWR in victory lane.”
· Clint Bowyer won the race by .829 seconds over Tony Stewart.
· Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.
· Race ran caution free the first 82 laps.
· The race took two hours and 39 minutes.
· The race featured eight lead changes among five drivers.
· Two cautions slowed the race for seven laps.
· NASCAR estimated the attendance at 91,000.
NAME: Clint Bowyer
HOMETOWN: Emporia, KS
RESIDENCE: Clemmons, NC
NAME: Martin Truex Jr.
HOMETOWN: Mayetta, NJ
RESIDENCE: Mooresville, NC