|Clint Bowyer won at Sonoma in 2012; he's 18/1 to win Sunday|
CORNELIUS, N.C. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Sonoma Raceway this weekend for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 where drivers will turn right for the first of two times this year.
The 1.99-mile road course is notorious for its technical turns and elevation changes, making it a unique challenge for many drivers. Some teams even employ what are called road-course ringers, drivers who are specialists on these types of tracks.
But look at the most recent stats and it’s not your typical ringer or even multiple series champions who top the list at Sonoma. A dirt specialist from Emporia, Kan., is best at the 10-turn track. Clint Bowyer leads the list of drivers at Sonoma with an average finish of 3.0 in races run since February 2012. He also is tops in average finishes at road courses run in that same time span with an average finish of 4.0.
Sonoma has been good to Bowyer and his No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota. He has earned six top-10 finishes in eight starts, five of those were top fives including a win in 2012. With stats like that it’s safe to say that Bowyer is a ringer on this wine country road course.
How will the new form of qualifying work at the road course?
“The only thing that I see that could be a potential issue at Sonoma is running your lap and having so much track to get back and trying to keep your car from overheating and trying to stay out of the way of somebody. You could really screw somebody’s lap up trying to get back to the pit area after your lap. That’s going to be something after qualifying — I’m sure somebody is going to be mad because of that situation. There’s runoff areas and stuff where you can get out of the way, but we’re not very smart and sometimes we get in the way.”
How would you evaluate your season thus far?
“The good news is that here lately we’ve really kind of got our feet back underneath us and got some consistency back. Really honed in on a ‘B’ right now. Got some room to improve, which is always good. More importantly, just like the direction that we’re headed. We finally got our feet underneath us and hit our stride. That’s good because we’re out of mulligan’s.”
Chassis No. 767 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Sonoma Raceway. He raced it to a fifth-place finish at Sonoma and a sixth-place finish at Watkins Glen in 2013. Chassis No. 770 serves as the back-up chassis and hasn’t been raced.
One win (June 2012)
Five top-five and six top-10 finishes in 8 starts
Completed 887 of 887 laps (100%) and has led 73 laps
Average start 15.6 and average finish 9.1
No DNFs (did not finish)
* Since February 2012 Clint Bowyer owns the best average finish among NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers at road courses (4.0) as well as the best average finish at Sonoma (3.0).
* Bowyer holds the second-best average finish among drivers, 9.1, to Jeff Gordon’s 8.2.
* Michael Waltrip Racing owns the best average finish among organizations (7.67) in six races run on road courses since Feb. 2012, including two wins and four top-five finishes.
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