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Bowyer sparkles in Sonoma wine country

Montoya's still hoping that the personnel changes the team instigated last summer will trigger a revival for his Cup fortunes. Ironically, one of those changes was to oust Montoya's crew chief Brian Pattie, who went on to find a new job at Michael Waltrip Racing. Specifically, he was in victory lane at Sonoma as Clint Bowyer's crew chief.

"We are a place for refugees," chuckled Bowyer, referring both to Pattie's situation and his own after the shock of contract renegotiations at his old team breaking down and leaving him with an uncertain future in NASCAR.

“Basically I kind of lost my ride at RCR, walked into a new program with a lot of unknowns," said Bowyer. "It was very nerve-racking times in the winter time!" But it had paid off, with victory for Bowyer and MWR already in just their 16th outing together.

"I'm proud of everybody at MWR for making this happen. What a wonderful opportunity at this stage in my career to make this jump and make it work," said Bowyer, drinking up the success under the Californian sunshine. "I'm super excited for everybody involved to be in Victory Lane with this group so early in the season. It's a dream come true."

In a very close battle to make it into the Chase post-season battle for the Sprint Cup, the win is hugely significant and bumps Bowyer up two spots to seventh place: the top ten make the Chase, together with the next two drivers with the most wins from positions 11 to 20, making Bowyer's visit to victory lane at Sonoma doubly significant.

Matt Kenseth continues to lead the points despite finishing outside the top ten, with Greg Biffle bouncing back up to second place 11pts back as a result of Dale Earnhardt's late-race crash.

Full race results and Saturday practice times available, as well as full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points standings.




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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Regan Smith (far left) make contact after a multicar melee on the final restart during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on Sunday, June 24, 2012. (Photo Credit: By Robert Laberge, Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer crosses the finish line first to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on Sunday, June 24, 2012. (Photo Credit: By Todd Warshaw, Getty Images for NASCAR)
Clint Bowyer drives the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota during a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS races to a third place finish with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finishes in fifth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Percision Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, race three-wide during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Alex Bowman, driver of the #7 Toy State/Nikko Chevrolet, and Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #9 Twisted Tea Ford, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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