Bowyer continues a NASCAR trend

June, 26, 2012
06/26/12
3:20
PM ET

Last year was lauded for having a variety of winners and wild endings. While this year hasn't lived up to the crazy finishes (last year set a high bar), we've kept up the string of variety in Victory Lane, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

Clint Bowyer marked the 12th driver to win a Cup race this season, the 13th consecutive year we've had at least a dozen different winners. Before this 13-year run, we had a stretch of eight straight years without more than 12 winners in a year.

And while we have some overlap from year to year, we're seeing new names pop up, too. Whether it's Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Bowyer, there's no shortage of drivers with the equipment and ability to win, and Michael Waltrip Racing has shown that we're only adding to the pool.

MWR already has eight top-5 finishes this season, the most its ever had in a season, and is just one short of a team record for top-10s in a season.

And who would've thought that Bowyer could win a race on a road course? Oh yeah, he was the Eliminator pick on Thursday.

But also, we're getting to a point where road-course races have never had so many drivers capable of winning on straight-up ability. The past eight Sonoma races have been won by eight different drivers, and the past six all picked up their first career road-course win.

Trivia break: Who is the only driver to pick up his first career Sprint Cup win at Sonoma?

Two For The Road (Course)

Let's heap some much-deserved praise on Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers for finishing third and fourth, respectively, at Sonoma.

For Busch, it's not only his first top-5 finish since joining Phoenix Racing, it's also tied for the second-best finish in team history, and the first time it's had a top-5 finish outside of a restrictor-plate race.

Vickers picked up his second top-5 finish in three races driving the 55 this season for MWR. Vickers' average finish this season is a 9.0. The sample size is small, but that does rank as the fourth-best in the series. It's also the first time Vickers has ever finished in the top 10 at Sonoma.

Trivia break: Besides Busch, who are the three drivers with top-5 finishes for Phoenix Racing?

Piq-uet Of The Litter

I usually don't cover much Nationwide in my little corner blog, but the history of Nelson Piquet Jr.'s win Saturday at Road America was too much to ignore.

First, he was the first Brazilian-born driver to win a race in the Cup, Nationwide or Trucks series, and just the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Nationwide Series race.

And thanks to my friends at Racing Resources, I found out that Turner Motorsports now has five Nationwide Series wins from five different drivers.

They're the first team, Cup, Nationwide or Trucks, to ever get its first five wins from five different drivers.

Piquet was the first of those winners to lead more than one lap in his win. That also gives Turner Motorsports the record for most Nationwide victories where the driver leads just one lap with four, thanks again to Racing Resources.

Trivia break: Who were the first four drivers to win a Nationwide Series race for Turner Motorsports?

Trivia Break Answers

1. Juan Pablo Montoya picked up his first win at Sonoma in 2007.

2. Brad Keselowski won at Talladega for Phoenix in 2009, and Geoff Bodine and Mike Wallace each had a top-5 in the Daytona 500.

3. Mark Martin, Justin Allgaier, Reed Sorenson and James Buescher have won Nationwide races for Turner.

Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.

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