Michigan: Clint Bowyer race report

Bowyer, No. 33 Team Finish 22nd at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team started at the tail end of the 43-car field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race after going to their back up ...

Bowyer, No. 33 Team Finish 22nd at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team started at the tail end of the 43-car field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race after going to their back up Chevrolet Impala, and made the most of the situation as they scored a 22nd-place finish in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The less-than-desired finish dropped the Emporia, Kan., native one position, to 13th, in the NSCS point standings. With 11 races remaining before the 12-man Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, Bowyer is 43 markers in arrears to Mark Martin in 12th.

The Shane-Wilson led team arrived at the two-mile Irish Hills oval with a brand new Chevrolet and had high hopes of a solid run. On Friday, the team posted the 24th-fastest speed in Friday's opening practice session before Bowyer qualified 25th later that afternoon. They went back to the drawing board and re-examined their setup. In Saturday's duel practice sessions, Bowyer recorded the 27th- and 37th-fastest times, respectively, but was still lacking the right balance that would allow him to turn better through the 18-degree banked corners. Then, on his final run of final practice, the 31-year-old driver made contact with the outside wall. The damage was severe enough to force the No. 33 team to go to their back up Chevy, resulting in Bowyer starting at the tail end of the field for the start of Sunday afternoon's race.

Sunday's 200-lap race saw four caution periods, for a total of 14 laps, and one car lead over half of the laps contested. For the No. 33 team, their race would be one of attrition and patience.

Bowyer & Company stuck to their game plan of running a smart and conservative race, as they methodically picked off 17 positions prior to a lap-19 caution. The Helping Hands pit crew jumped into action one lap later, as they changed four tires and fuel, along with making a slight chassis adjustment. The quick pit service netted Bowyer three spots as he restarted 21st on lap 22.

Over the next 27 circuits, Bowyer maintained a top-25 spot, but struggled with a tight-handling condition as he entered the corners. A lap 49-caution allowed for Wilson's crew to make chassis and air pressure adjustments, along with adding four fresh tires and fuel. However, as Bowyer exited his pit stall, Wilson saw that the left side of the hood was unattached. He elected to take the time and bring Bowyer back down pit road on the following lap to fix the issue. This set the two-time NSCS race winner back to 35th for the lap-51 restart.

A 49-lap green-flag run ensued where Bowyer was able to pick off nine spots before the event's third yellow flag was displayed on lap 100. The Cheerios/Hamburger Helper driver continued to battle a tight-handling race car so, during the four tire and fuel pit stop, packer was added to the right-front spring. However, when Bowyer returned to the track, he felt a vibration. Wilson called his driver back down pit road to change all four tires on the No. 33 machine and returned to the racing surface 32nd in the running order.

Racing resumed on lap 103 and would remain green for the next 80 circuits. During this time, the adjustment made to their spring package aided Bowyer as he drove up to 13th by lap 180. He continued to gain ground on several competitors in front of him when debris forced NASCAR to display the race's fourth and final caution of the afternoon on lap 183.

The No. 33 team elected not to pit as they had recently hit pit road, under green-flag conditions, nine laps prior to the yellow flag being displayed. Four cars in front of the No. 33 machine and the remaining lead-lap competitors behind Bowyer hit pit lane for service. .

The No. 33 Impala restarted ninth on lap 184, but the fresh tires of other competitors were no match against Bowyer as he slid backwards through the field. He dropped 13 spots before taking the checkered flag in 22nd.

Denny Hamlin dominated the race, leading 123 of 200 laps, en route to his fifth victory of the 2010 season. Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart rounded out the rest of the top-five finishers. Bowyer's RCR teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick finished eighth and 19th, respectively.

Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to Infineon Raceway for its first of two road course races this season.

Clint Bowyer:

"We really didn't know how today was going to go with us being in the back up car, but the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team worked their tails off this weekend. Our back up was really strong on the long run, so that last caution hurt our chances at ending our weekend on a positive note. We took a hit in the points, but we'll regroup and look for a solid run next weekend in Sonoma."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Kasey Kahne , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin