Photo: Chris Owens/ASP, Inc.

Clint Bowyer Tops Opening Practice at Sonoma

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

SONOMA, California — The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers began conquering the scorching 91 degree weather for Friday’s opening practice, and to no surprise, Clint Bowyer begins where he left off at Michigan, topping the practice session.

Bowyer’s No. 14 One Cure Ford set the fastest lap of 76.547 seconds, with a speeds of 93.590 mph with 12 minutes to go in the session. Ryan Blaney was 0.036 seconds short of being the top man in practice.

At the last minute, Joey Logano put up a fast one, ending practice as third fastest. Followed by Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Michael McDowell, Martin Truex, Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, and Ryan Newman rounding out the top-10 leaderboard.

“This place is a beast and so is that win the first time you try it,” Bowyer said of racing at Sonoma. “It is like, ‘Damn, I don’t know about all this.’ Next thing you know you are a little longer in the tooth and you are like, ‘Hey, let’s go get some wine.

This race track is so much like pulling in one of those vineyards as you go through life. You have to be able to have fun on this race track. It is a challenge. Each and every corner is different. There is no perfect setup or perfect line. It is literally one of the only tracks you go to where you are out there racing and have a smile on your face. You might even get a chuckle. You may go into the corner and slip up and be pissed because the guy behind you that you spent three laps passing got around you and maybe the next corner he drives off the track and you might be like, ‘Ha!’ That is the quick chuckle that I am talking about that only road racing or something like Sonoma can present.”

The session was only stopped once after Cody Ware’s brake hose came off his No. 52 Bubba’s Burger Chevrolet in Turn 2, as he tried to run a set of lap times late in the session. However, the parts that came off his car ended his run with only two laps to his name, and was 37th fastest with a speed of 87.809 mph over five miles an hour slower than Bowyer.

Once the track was cleaned up, practice resumed, but the action built up. Highlighted by Ryan Blaney bumping Tomy Drissi out of the way in Turn 3. Drissi was the slowest out of the 38-car field with 86.764 mph being his fastest speed.

Minutes later, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace going wide and plowed some dirt with less than 15 minutes remaining, but soldiered on and ultimately wound up 33rd quickest (90.919 mph).

Final Cup practice will take place at 5:40 p.m. EST.

From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a two-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.