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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)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualified for sixth position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with his wife DeLana, son Keelan, and the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
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Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with a burnout after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
With General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, holds the Michigan Heritage Trophy after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. In 2013, MIS began awarding the Michigan Heritage Trophy as a recognition and celebration of the automobile and it`s importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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