HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Kurt Busch, who has struggled with his temper on and off the track, thought that he could pressure Bowyer into making a mistake: "He's a dirt late-model racer from the Midwest; there's no way he's going to be able to run the road course." (photo courtesy: Chris Graythen, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Clint Boywer drove the race of his career Sunday, dominating Race 16 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Bowyer held off Kurt Busch at Infineon Raceway to record his first victory on a road course and first win with Michael Waltrip Racing. Leading 71 of the 112 laps, including two over-time laps, Bowyer dominated much of the race, pulling out to convincing leads only to have his lead evaporate with three laps to go when an accident triggered the second and final caution flag.
Undaunted, Bowyer powered his way to the front and survived challenges first from Kurt Busch and then from defending Ford 400 race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tony Stewart.
"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."
Stewart passed Busch on the final lap to claim second, and Busch wound up third.
"Got it by default there, to a certain degree," said Stewart, who was second for the second consecutive week.
Ft. Lauderdale resident Brian Vickers took fourth in another Michael Waltrip Racing car, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.
“It is unbelievable to get with a new bunch of people and win races,” Bowyer said. “You have to be with good people and that’s what it takes to be successful. Everyone is working very well together. I’ve had good teammates before but I’ve never had anything of this magnitude. To have this dirt boy in victory lane at this road course is big.”
Stewart, who gained two positions in the final laps after starting far back in 24th place. The reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion trailed the winner by .8 seconds at the checkered flag.
“We started too far back, but I think myself and Brian Vickers probably had two of the best cars,” Stewart stated. “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 and that got us some spots. We had a really good car; we just took all day to get the track position.”
Stewart realized that something had gone wrong with Busch’s car and he commended him for keeping the car on the track. “He was driving the wheels off that thing, but I don’t know how he kept it on the race track. He did a really good job of keeping that thing going.”
Kurt Busch took third in the unsponsored Phoenix Racing car owned by James Finch. The controversial driver was emotional and physically worn-out at race end.
“It’s an amazing day when you can do what we did today,” Busch said. “I’m a little choked up because A) we were in position; B) I was very considerate to (Clint) Bowyer, who was going for his first win with the new team. And then C), which was most important, I made a mistake. I got into those tires in turn 11 and for years they have never been bolted down. They were bolted down this time. It bent the right front up and it broke the pan-hard bar and I’m just glad we brought it home third. If I had been smarter, I would have let Tony Stewart go a lap, a half-a-lap ahead.”
The win moved Bowyer into the seventh position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. Matt Kenseth continues to lead the championship standings 11 points ahead of Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle and 14 over Dale Earnhardt Jr., who ended up 19th after being wrecked on the final lap. The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Kentucky on Saturday, June 30 (7:00 p.m. ET, TNT) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.