Late-Race Accident Ends Bowyer's Long Day at Texas FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team were forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop due to an early cut right-rear tire during Monday's Samsung...
Late-Race Accident Ends Bowyer's Long Day at Texas
FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team were forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop due to an early cut right-rear tire during Monday's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway that placed them one lap down to the leader, but the final blow came when the Emporia, Kan., native was collected in a multi-car accident 17 laps shy of the scheduled 334-lap distance.
The less-than-desired result dropped Bowyer eight spots, to 14th, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, but just one marker separates him from the coveted top 12.
The Shane Wilson-led team kicked off the weekend by posting the fourth-fastest speed in Friday's opening practice session, and Bowyer qualified eighth later that afternoon. Rain showers pounded the Fort Worth area on Saturday and Sunday forcing NASCAR to cancel the remaining practice sessions and push the race back one day.
Dry weather greeted the estimated 92,200 race fans that stuck it out for Monday morning's 501-mile event. The green flag waved shortly after 11 a.m. local time and Bowyer gained one spot prior to the lap-25 competition caution. A lightning-fast pit stop by the Helping Hands over-the-wall crew netted the two-time NSCS winner two positions as racing resumed on lap 32.
Over the next 69 circuits around the 1.5-mile Texas oval, Bowyer raced between the fourth and seventh positions. A lap-101 caution brought the leaders to pit road where the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team took on four tires, while several others took on right-side tires only. Bowyer restarted 11th on lap 104, but another yellow flag waved nine laps later.
Bowyer and Wilson decided to stay out on the track as several other competitors pitted under this caution period, placing the yellow and red colored Impala fourth for the lap-116 restart. As the field entered turn one on the restart, Bowyer radioed his crew about a potential flat tire. He hit pit lane two laps later and, upon further inspection, the No. 33 crew found a cut in the right-rear tire.
The 30-year old driver returned to the track 37th on lap 119, scored one lap down to the leader. Although long green-flag runs and changing track conditions hindered Bowyer's charge to return to the lead lap, he was able to gain ground on those competitors listed one or more laps down to the leader. Bowyer was 28th on lap 158, 26th on lap 212 and 21st on lap 291, now in position for the 'Lucky Dog' award.
All Bowyer & Co. now needed was a caution in order to get them back on the lead lap. Fluid on the backstretch forced NASCAR to call the race's sixth caution flag 20 laps later but, by this time, another driver had already been lapped by the leader and the No. 33 Chevy remained one lap down.
The leaders took the green flag on lap 316, but as the field crossed the start/finish line to complete the lap, the Nos. 14 and 24 cars came together and set off a chain reaction that would develop into a nine-car accident. Bowyer was collected in the wreck and the terminal damage from the crash ended his day, resulting in a 36th-place finish.
Denny Hamlin edged Jimmie Johnson to the checkered flag by 0.152 second to earn his first victory of the 2010 season. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne rounded out the rest of the top-five finishers, while Bowyer's RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished seventh and 12th, respectively.
Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to the Talladega Superspeedway for 499 miles of restrictor plate racing.
"Earlier, we stayed out there and I ran over something which got us behind. When you get behind like that, it is hard to get caught up. But, we finally put ourselves in position to get back on the lead lap and then we were collected in the accident. It was a melee in front of us. We'll head to Talladega next weekend hoping to run as well as we did in Daytona and get ourselves back on track."