At Sonoma, it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite to win there. Road course races are extremely difficult to give an educated guess on what would happen. But, the usual suspects will be brought up this weekend anyways. One driver though that most will overlook and can easily come in and not just win on Sunday, but steal a playoff berth as well is Clint Bowyer.
It’s no secret, this year has been much better for Bowyer. After two miserable years with Michael Waltrip Racing, then one dismal year last year with HScott Motorsports, he finally moved to a competitive team again at Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2017 season. So far, he sits 15th in the playoff grid, with two top five finishes and five top 10’s to his credit.
He’s been consistent too, having a top 15 finish in 11 of the 15 races thus far.
But, what about a win on Sunday at Sonoma?
It can easily happen too.
So far, its been a great weekend for the Kansas native. He was fourth and eighth respectively in the two sessions on Friday. In qualifying, he narrowly missed the top 12, starting 13th now as a result.
Last year at Sonoma, Bowyer finished last, a 40th place effort, with his car had electrical issues just five laps into the race. Prior to that though, he had five straight top 10’s at Sonoma, including four of them inside the top five. Also, going back to 2007, Bowyer has one win (2012) six top five finishes and eight top 10’s in 10 Sonoma starts.
“Not in a million years would I have imagined this success,” Bowyer said of his strong finishes in Wine Country. “After the first couple stabs at it, I was relatively good out there. I struggled a lot at Watkins Glen but always was able to find pretty good speed and get settled in and get comfortable at Sonoma. It has been good to me, it’s a fun racetrack. It’s a short track of road-course racing and it just kind of fits my driving style.”
Mix all of that, with the best opportunity he’s arguably ever had, and counter it with him now being in the No. 14 Ford, the same one that saw Tony Stewart take it to victory lane just last season there too, and it’s clear why Bowyer is the biggest sleeper in the field, maybe even the favorite.
“They’ve brought me hot rods all years so I expect to have one this weekend, as well,” Bowyer continued. “It takes a heck of a lot to win a race these days, but I know we’ll have just as good of a shot as anyone else if all goes like we expect. They did it last year with Tony and I’d love to go to victory lane this weekend.”
If Bowyer can win, he’d be playoff bound.