Event: Save Mart 350k (Round 16 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (2.52-mile, 12-turn road course)
Format: 90 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/50 laps)
Start/Finish: 14th/11th (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps)
Point Standing: 12th (430 points, 213 out of first)
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):
● Clint Bowyer started 14th, finished 22nd.
● Bowyer reported the front end of the car wasn’t turning as well as needed and “pogoing” in the corners.
● Bowyer raced up to the 11th position under green.
● Bowyer pitted on lap 18 for tires and fuel in order to get a good starting position for Stage 2.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):
● Bowyer started fifth, finished 33rd.
● Bowyer raced in fifth until he dropped to 37th when he pitted because of a loose right-rear wheel on lap 28. The team later determined the problem was due to an air gun issue.
● After the stop Bowyer turned very fast laps, climbing to 29th under green.
● Like he did in the first stage, Bowyer pitted in the closing laps of the second stage for better track position for the final stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-90):
● Bowyer started 18th, finished 11th.
● Bowyer showed his muscle in the final stage, driving from 18th to as high as seventh.
● The No. 14 was often one of the three fastest cars on the track.
● Bowyer appeared to have a shot at the top-five, but late in the race he reported his car wouldn’t turn as needed.
● Hampered by the handling issue he dropped through the field, losing 10th place to Kyle Larson on the final lap.
● Bowyer earned his 10th top-11 of the season and his 11th top-11 in 14 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Sonoma.
● Martin Truex Jr. won the Save Mart 350k to score his 23rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season, his third at Sonoma and his second straight at the 2.52-mile, 12-turn road course. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 1.861 seconds.
● There were only two caution periods for a total of six laps.
● Twenty-four of the 38 drivers in the Save Mart 350k finished on the lead lap.
● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Sonoma with just a one-point advantage over second-place Busch.
Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang:
“That was disappointing, for sure. We had a bad break with the air gun and that put us on a strategy that kind of killed our chances at getting stage points. It looked like we were going to have a shot at the top-five, but we just couldn’t get our car to turn there at the end and gave up a lot of positions. We had a good Rush Truck Centers Mustang all weekend and expected a lot better finish.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Camping World 400 on Sunday, June 30 at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.