Clint Bowyer knew he could get to Victory Lane this season, his first with Michael Waltrip Racing.
He just didn't think it would be on a road course.
Bowyer picked up his first win with his new team Sunday by holding off Kurt Busch on the winding 1.99-mile road course at Sonoma. Although Bowyer finished fourth three previous times on this road course, his background is on dirt tracks and this style of racing isn't his strong suit.
So the irony of winning Sunday wasn't lost on Bowyer.
''To have this dirt boy from Kansas at Victory Lane on a road course is big, trust me,'' Bowyer said. ''I saw Jeff Gordon, he's sitting there on the wall, he's won this race many times, he's a champion of this sport and I just beat him. I passed Jeff Gordon, and you have no idea, a young racer from Kansas, you don't forget stuff like that.''
Bowyer dominated by leading 71 of the 112 laps. Defending race-winner Busch, in an unsponsored car, was all over the bumper of Bowyer's Toyota late and got a final shot at taking the win away when caution flew with four laps remaining.
Only Busch damaged his car with roughly eight laps to go, and he worried the entire caution period whether his Chevrolet was ruined and had no chance of catching Bowyer through the two-lap overtime sprint to the finish.
Bowyer raced side-by-side with Busch at the green flag, then cleared Busch and pulled away for the win.
''Kurt raced me clean, he bumped me and roughed me up, but never did anything to jeopardize either one of us,'' Bowyer said.
Bowyer, who left Richard Childress Racing at the end of last season to join MWR, had to walk to Victory Lane to celebrate with his new crew after his car ran out of gas.
''I'm super excited for everybody involved,'' Bowyer said. ''To switch teams like I did was a huge risk and a chance for me, and it was a chance to showcase my talents.