NASCAR Winners and Losers: A Look Back At Sonoma

Here's a look at the winners and losers from NASCAR's first road course race of the season at Sonoma:

Winners

Michael Waltrip Racing

Michael Waltrip Racing isn't just getting a nod because of Clint Bowyer's victory – the first this season for MWR after several close calls. This also has to do with Brian Vickers driving through the field to finish fourth and Martin Truex Jr. running in the top 10 throughout the afternoon before getting wrecked late.

All the way around, MWR was the most impressive team this past weekend and it might finally be time to permanently invite it to have a seat at the big boys' table of NASCAR alongside the Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, Childress and Penske teams.

Kurt Busch

Say what you will about Kurt Busch as a person – good or bad – but there is no denying how gritty his effort was on Sunday. And to do what he did with the team he's with is one of the more impressive drives we'll see all year. Not to mention the raw emotion he displayed afterwards, showed maybe, just maybe that Busch is starting to realize and appreciate the opportunity he's been given.

Casey Mears

It went unnoticed Sunday, but another driver for a single-car, underfunded team scored a respectable finish. The driver is question was Casey Mears, whose 15th-place finish was his best result since being scored 12th at Martinsville last fall.

Losers

Marcos Ambrose & Jeff Gordon

When does finishing sixth and eighth feel a bit hollow? In the case of Jeff Gordon and Marcos Ambrose, it's when both were expected to contend and failed to do so – a win both desperately needed if they are to have any chance of making the Chase.

Kyle Busch

Oh, how things can quickly change in a month's time. Four weeks ago Kyle Busch was firmly in the top 10 and looking poised to be in contention for the number one seed in the Chase. Three engine failures and one crash-induced 17th-place finish later, Busch finds himself 12th overall and in heated battle to snag a wild card berth.

Kevin Harvick

In a race where gambling on fuel mileage is the norm, it's to be expected that there are drivers who come up on the short end of the stick. This is what happened to Kevin Harvick, who went from finishing in the top 10 to placing 16th when the fuel tank in his Chevrolet ran dry. Most jarring though, Sunday marked the fifth time this season the 29 car has ran out of gas. Perhaps it might be time to get Harvick's crew a new calculator?

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