On Sunday at Sonoma raceway, Kurt Busch nearly made it back-to-back victories in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Busch battled eventual race winner Clint Bowyer for almost all of the second half of the Sprint Cup Series race before winding up third after being passed by Tony Stewart on the final lap. The victory was Bowyer’s first of the year and the sixth of his career. Busch held the third spot, followed by Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson.
Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, pole-sitter Marcos Ambrose, AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano completed the top 10 in a race that began with a record green-flag run of 82 laps and featured a record-low two cautions.
Busch would have had a good shot at victory had he not suffered suspension damage when he clipped the tire barrier in Turn 11 with around eight laps remaining. The resulting damage prevented him from going after Bowyer on the final laps.
“Without a doubt, I think I could have pressured Bowyer into a mistake,” Kurt Busch said. “He was there for the taking coming to the white (flag). But the rear was too unstable under braking.” That however also made it tough to defend against a rampaging Stewart.
Said Stewart: “I don’t know how he kept it on the racetrack with how much that rear end was moving around on that car. I thought he did a really phenomenal job of just hanging on to what he had.” Stewart, a two-time winner here, had a terrific day after starting 24th. “I was really pleased, to be honest,” Stewart said. “The last two days we had not been real happy with our balance and just couldn’t seem to get the speed that a lot of the guys putting up big numbers were able to run. We couldn’t even run within a second of them.”