Team Effort at Phoenix Nets Bowyer's Fifth Top-10 Finish of the Season AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A fast No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, quick pit stops and smart adjustments to the ever-changing track conditions all contributed to Clint ...
Team Effort at Phoenix Nets Bowyer's Fifth Top-10 Finish of the Season
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A fast No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, quick pit stops and smart adjustments to the ever-changing track conditions all contributed to Clint Bowyer's ninth-place finish in Saturday's Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Bowyer gains three positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and now sits sixth as a result of his fifth top-10 finish of the 2010 season. The Emporia, Kan., native is 63 points in arrears of Jeff Gordon in fifth and 12 markers ahead of his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Jeff Burton, in seventh.
The Shane Wilson-led team kicked off the weekend by posting the sixth- and 13th-fastest times in Friday's dual practice sessions. Later that afternoon, Bowyer toured the one-mile desert oval in 27.148 seconds, lining the No. 33 Chevrolet up on the outside of row 13 for Saturday's 600-kilometer race.
The green flag waved shortly after 4:30 p.m. local time, which meant the track would undergo a significant temperature change as the 43-car field raced into the evening hours. Although Bowyer encountered a loose-handling condition in the opening half of the 375-lap event, he continued to progress through the field thanks to fast pit stops and clever decisions on adjustments to improve the No. 33 Chevrolet's handling.
The 30-year old driver was a mainstay in the top 10 beginning on lap 63. Even as the sun set, the track temperature cooled and the handling characteristics switched on Bowyer's Chevrolet, nothing seemed to hinder his march towards the front.
By the race's midway point, lap 188, the two-time NSCS race winner was scored fifth. Over the next 150 circuits, the No. 33 over-the-wall crew continued to shine as they gained Bowyer one or more positions on three separate visits to pit road, all while under caution. During this time, the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper machine was scored between sixth and third.
Bowyer was sixth when the event's ninth and final yellow flag waved on lap 372. This set up a green, white and checkered flag finish and a decision to take two or four tires when the leaders hit pit road for the final time.
Bowyer & Co. elected to take on four Goodyear Eagles and returned to the track in 10th. As the field took the final green-flag restart, several competitors ahead of the No. 33 Impala spun their tires and bunched up the field, slowing Bowyer's progress. He was able to pick off one position over the final two laps to finish ninth.
Ryan Newman took the lead on the final restart and edged Jeff Gordon to the checkered flag by 0.13 seconds. Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five finishers. Bowyer's RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished 13th and 25th, respectively.
Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads south to the 1.5-mile quad oval of Texas Motor Speedway.
"The No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was fast tonight. The pit crew kept us up front with quick stops and Shane Wilson (crew chief) did a great job calling out the adjustments to get our Impala to handle better. We were a little tight on that last long run, but all in all, it was a great team effort. We'll try to improve on this top-10 finish next weekend."