Strong finish moves Bowyer back to 10th in point standings Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team backed up their Talladega win with a strong top-10 effort by finishing seventh in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor...
Strong finish moves Bowyer back to 10th in point standings
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team backed up their Talladega win with a strong top-10 effort by finishing seventh in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Bowyer, who gained two spots in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup point standings, now trails ninth-place Greg Biffle by a mere 25 points and new points leader Denny Hamlin by 397 markers with only two races remaining in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The effort was the team's fourth top-10 finish during this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the third straight top-10 effort in the last three fall races at TMS.
On Friday at the 1.5-mile track, the Shane Wilson-led team started the day's lone practice session in race trim before switching over to the qualifying setup at the halfway point. Bowyer posted the 25th-fastest lap among 49 competitors before turning a lap later that day in the time trials session that was good enough to line up the No. 33 Chevrolet seventh on the starting grid.
For Saturday's two practice sessions, the Emporia, Kan., native posted times good enough for 25th and 27th on the speed charts, respectively.
Race day in Texas brought sunny skies and warm temperatures for the estimated crowd of 156,000. Bowyer started the event on the inside of row four and initial feedback from the driver in the opening laps was that he had a tight race car. A caution flag on lap 13 gave the team a chance to make some adjustments to the car and take two right-side tires. A fast pit stop by the Helping Hands crew coupled with other competitors taking four tires gave Bowyer the fourth position when the field returned to green on lap 17.
Bowyer was a mainstay inside the top five over the next 100-plus circuits despite a continuous battle with a loose-handling Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet.
An opportunity for Wilson to adjust on the temperamental No. 33 machine came in the form of a caution on lap 133. After Bowyer veered onto pit road on the ensuing lap, the over-the-wall crew went to work, replacing all four tires that included air pressure adjustments in the rear tires. While attempting to exit his pit stall, Bowyer was blocked in by the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon who was pitted in front of him. The delay in the pits cost the team five positions on the track, dropping them to 11th for the restart.
During the middle stages of the race, Bowyer raced between seventh and 20th as a result of the No. 33 Chevrolet being "all over the place" and various pit calls by all the teams.
Despite not having the track position they wanted, the Helping Hands crew never gave up and kept their winning attitudes in check that shined through in the closing 34 laps. Adjustments made to the RCR entry under a lap-301 caution period kicked the yellow and red machine into high gear that resulted in the gain of five positions and was scored 14th when the final slowdown occurred with six laps remaining at the Fort Worth facility.
Wilson's crew cranked out a spectacular pit stop that placed Bowyer in 11th for a three-lap shootout to the checkers.
Savvy driving by the four-time Sprint Cup Series race winner allowed him to stay out of trouble and pass four cars, crossing the finish line with a solid seventh-place finish.
Denny Hamlin scored the victory followed by Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Joey Logano and Greg Biffle.
RCR stablemate Kevin Harvick finished sixth while fellow teammate Jeff Burton suffered an accident on lap 192 and finished 36th.
CLINT BOWYER: "I couldn't be happier to bring home a top-10 finish for the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team today. We fought a really loose race car all weekend, but Shane and the guys never gave up and kept making the proper adjustments that we needed in order to be there at the end. It was a total team effort all around, including great stops on pit road the entire race. We are now in the top 10 in points and I think we proved to everyone tonight that this team isn't giving up anytime soon."