Chicagoland: Clint Bowyer race report

Bowyer Back in Top 12 Following Fourth-Place Run at Chicagoland JOLIET, Ill. -- Coming off a disappointing finish last weekend in Daytona, Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team came back strong as they raced their...

Bowyer Back in Top 12 Following Fourth-Place Run at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. -- Coming off a disappointing finish last weekend in Daytona, Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team came back strong as they raced their way back inside the top 12 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings with a fourth-place finish in Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

With seven races remaining before the 12-man Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, Bowyer moves up two spots, to 12th, in the point standings and holds a 15-point advantage over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 13th.

The Shane Wilson-led team began the weekend by posting the 17th-fastest time in both of Thursday's dual practice sessions. Later that evening, Bowyer toured the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval in 29.692 seconds (181.867 mph), securing the 15th-starting position for Saturday night's race. Although they were not scored higher on the speed charts, Bowyer & Company felt their Earnhardt-Childress Racing-powered Chevrolet would be competitive during the 400-mile event.

In the opening 100 laps of Saturday's 267-lap affair, Bowyer raced his way solidly into the top 10, despite battling a loose-handling Chevrolet. During this time, the No. 33 crew made both track bar and air pressure adjustments, on two separate visits to pit road, to help aide the handling woes the Emporia, Kan., native encountered. The adjustments made, along with cooling track temperatures, served their purpose and tightened up the No. 33 machine.

As the sun began to set, the event's second yellow flag waved on lap 130, with Bowyer scored eighth. On the ensuing round of pit stops, four tires and fuel were added, along with a slight air pressure adjustment. The quick pit service netted Bowyer one position, as he restarted seventh on lap 135.

Bowyer quickly worked his way around two competitors, cracking the top five before the event's third yellow flag waved on lap 137. Racing resumed one lap later and remained under green-flag conditions for the next 41 laps. The two-time NSCS race winner made a charge towards the front during this time and was scored third when the fourth and final caution flag waved on lap 179.

The Helping Hands pit crew sprang into action on the ensuring round of pit stops, bolting on four tires, adding fuel and making a minor track bar adjustment to help Bowyer's tight-handling race car. A lightning-fast pit stop set Bowyer on the outside line, in second position, for the final restart of the night on lap 188.

Although Bowyer dropped one spot 10 laps later, he was a mainstay in the top three until green-flag pit stops began on lap 232. The two competitors in front of the 31-year-old driver pitted, so, Wilson told his driver to stay out to lead the lap and gain five valuable bonus points. The No. 33 team made their final pit stop on the ensuing lap and, after receiving routine pit service, which included another small tweak to the chassis, Bowyer returned to the track fourth and set his sights on the leaders.

Over the final 31 circuits, Bowyer's car went back to the loose side as he was unable to gain ground on the cars in front of him, bringing the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet home to a fourth-place finish.

David Reutimann earned his second career NSCS victory, crossing the start/finish line 0.727 seconds ahead of Carl Edwards. Jeff Gordon, Bowyer and Jaime McMurray rounded out the top-five finishers.

Bowyer's RCR teammate Jeff Burton finished seventh, while fellow stablemate Kevin Harvick had a fuel pressure problem that relegated him to a 34th-place finish.

NASCAR's senior circuit will enjoy a weekend off before they head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in two weeks.

CLINT BOWYER: "We just kept working on it a little bit and kept getting it better and better. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) made some great calls. The Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was good all weekend long. This is exactly what we needed to do. We need to string together a bunch of these (finishes) and we'll find ourselves in the Chase and have a shot at this championship. We just got way too loose there at the end. We tried to adjust on it to get to the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) car, but we just couldn't do it. I got just a little bit too loose, but we'll get them next time."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Jamie McMurray , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer