Despite scoring his first top five of the 2015 season—and the first for Michael Waltrip Racing—in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, Clint Bowyer was all but disconsolate as he took the dais as the third-place finisher at the 1.99-mile road course.
The solid run was all well and good, but Bowyer had seen his winning chances, not to mention a possible berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup disappear in Turns 2 and 3 after the final restart, when contact with Matt Kenseth’s Toyota impeded Bowyer and gave eventual race winner Kyle Busch the opening he needed.
“Everybody went high into my groove and opened it up for him, and he drove right into it and went on,” Bowyer said of Busch’s charge to the front. “He had the right line, and unfortunately I didn't. It just didn't work out for me. He beat me to the punch line, beat me to the lead, and the rest was history.”
Bowyer was on new tires after a late pit stop, and Kenseth had stayed out on old rubber. With seven laps left when the race restarted, Bowyer felt he had to try to bull his way to the front.
“We were on tires there, and you knew there was going to be some of them that stayed out, and unfortunately I was kind of on that outside line, and my only chance was to just try to hammer my way up through them,” Bowyer said. “And then Kyle was able to sneak up on the inside of them and kind of beat me to the punch line and went on to win the race.
“You hate to be in that situation. You've got to get rough, you've got to get aggressive. Matt and I got hooked up and about gave away our whole day there. It just turned me right, and damn near wrecked. Obviously, when you come out here, we've won before, we've run really well here. I wanted to win really bad. Got an opportunity there and just couldn't capitalize.”