Bowyer Finishes 17th, Doesn't Take Major Hit in Points DOVER, Del. -- Although a 17th-place finish was not what Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team were looking for in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's...
Bowyer Finishes 17th, Doesn't Take Major Hit in Points
DOVER, Del. -- Although a 17th-place finish was not what Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team were looking for in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes at Dover International Speedway, they maintain the 15th position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, 42 markers outside the coveted top 12 with 14 races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.
The Shane Wilson-led team unloaded a fast Chevrolet Impala on Friday as they posted the second-fastest speed in the weekend's opening practice session. Then, Bowyer qualified seventh later that afternoon. The No. 33 team continued to flex their muscle as they posted the fourth- and fifth-fastest speeds, respectively, in Saturday's duel practice sessions, leaving the one-mile oval confident in their race set up for Sunday's 400-mile race.
An estimated 88,000 race fans were on hand as the green flag waved to begin Sunday's 400-lap event. The Emporia, Kan., native raced his way into third place prior to a lap-54 caution, which saw the leaders hit pit road for the first time. The Helping Hands over-the-wall crew jumped into action, making a slight chassis adjustment, along with adding four new Goodyear tires and fuel. Bowyer maintained the third position for the lap-58 restart.
A long, 106-lap run ensued, and, as track temperatures began to heat up, Bowyer encountered a loose-handling condition that dropped him as low as 14th in the running order. During this time, Bowyer and the rest of the leaders made green-flag pit stops. Wilson called for air pressure and chassis adjustments during the No. 33 team's four-tire and fuel pit stop, allowing the two-time NSCS race winner to return to the track in 13th.
A single-car incident on lap 164 slowed the field and gave Bowyer & Company another opportunity to adjust on their red and yellow No. 33 Chevrolet. Quick pit work, which included four tires, fuel and two chassis adjustments, netted Bowyer two spots for the lap-169 restart.
The Cheerios/Hamburger Helper driver picked up four positions over the next 56 circuits and was running in seventh when the event's third yellow flag waved on lap 225. Following a round of pit stops during the caution period, the green flag waved again on lap 230. Bowyer was shuffled to 12th on the restart, but another single-car accident brought out the caution 15 laps later.
Once again, the majority of the leaders pitted and, this time, Wilson elected for right-side tires with a slight chassis adjustment. The decision not only allowed for Bowyer to restart 10th on lap 250, but also brought the No. 33 Chevrolet to life as he raced his way into fifth nine laps later. Bowyer was a mainstay in the top five until the event's fifth and final yellow flag waved on lap 186.
Bowyer brought his Chevrolet to the attention of his seven-man pit crew, but as the No. 33 team was completing pit service, Bowyer peeled out of his stall and took the jack with him onto the racing surface as it got wedged in between the jack post and the side skirt. Per the NASCAR rulebook, a car can not leave its pit stall with equipment. This forced the 30-year-old driver to serve a penalty and restart at the rear of the field, in 17th, on lap 291.
The final 109 laps were run without incident, which did not play into the No. 33 team's favor. The No. 33 Impala was stuck behind traffic and the handling balance faded back to loose. Following the final green-flag pit stop on lap 263, Bowyer was lapped by the leader. He would maintain a top-20 position over the final 37 circuits and crossed the finish line in 17th.
Kyle Busch earned his second victory of the 2010 NSCS season. Bowyer's RCR teammate Jeff Burton finished second, while Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and David Reuitmann rounded out the remaining top-five finishers. Bowyer's other stablemate, Kevin Harvick, finished seventh and continues to lead the championship point standings with 69 markers over Ky. Busch.
Next weekend, Bowyer and the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team have two shots to gain access into the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and race for a one-million dollar non-points pay day. Bowyer can either be one of the top-two finishers in Saturday night's Sprint Showdown or he can be voted in by the fans. To vote for Bowyer, head to Click www.nascar.com/promos/allstar/2010/vote or, if you have a Sprint cell phone, text VOTE to 7777.
CLINT BOWYER: "The track really changed during that first run and, as the race progressed, the rubber build-up continued to hurt our car's handling. We did have another competitive No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet and, if we could have found the right balance during the race, I think we could have had a better points day."