Charlotte II: Clint Bowyer race report

Bowyer Salvages Top-20 Finish Despite Challenging Night at Charlotte CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2010) -- Clint Bowyer survived three separate instances of on-track contact with fellow competitors and a loose-handling No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger...

Bowyer Salvages Top-20 Finish Despite Challenging Night at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2010) -- Clint Bowyer survived three separate instances of on-track contact with fellow competitors and a loose-handling No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet to finish 17th in Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, race five of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The Emporia, Kan., native remains 12th in the point standings, just 61 markers outside of the top 10.

Leading into Saturday's 500-mile marquee event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a tight-handling condition plagued Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team during three separate practice sessions spread out between Thursday and Friday. However, within one lap of the 7:49 p.m. green flag on Saturday, Bowyer indicated to interim crew chief Scott Miller that his red and yellow Chevrolet was extremely loose and, as a result, slipped from his 20th-place starting position to 31st before pitting during a lap-23 caution for four Goodyear tires, fuel, and chassis adjustments.

Restarting in the 34th position on lap 28, Bowyer made it up to 29th in the running order but was forced to pit for a second time on lap 33 after making contact with another competitor while trying to avoid an on-track incident. Miller brought Bowyer down pit road, and the No. 33 was serviced with four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment, while the RCR crew pulled out the right-front fender.

Down but not out, Bowyer spent the majority of the next 45 laps in the mid 20s, but gained five points by leading lap 82 as the field worked through green-flag pit cycles. Following the accumulation of the five bonus points, Bowyer pitted on lap 83 for four tires and fuel, and exited the pits 19th.

Ten laps into the run, Bowyer reported to his crew that his Chevrolet was loose off the corners and tight into the corners, so Miller took advantage of a lap-108 caution for debris to make yet another pit stop for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.

Unfortunately, Bowyer & Co. had to make a second trip down pit road just one lap later after another competitor made contact with the No. 33 exiting pit road, and the team discovered that they failed to tighten a left-rear lug nut.

Bowyer restarted 23rd on lap 114, but struggled with a loose-handling Chevrolet during the next segment of the race. When the caution flag was displayed on lap 123, the team opted to stay out on the race track, even though most of the competitors pitted, in an effort to gain track position.

The strategy worked, and Bowyer restarted sixth on lap 131, running in the top eight for the next 40 circuits until pitting under green on lap 140 for four tires and a chassis adjustment to fix the car's loose condition.

He was 24th following the pit stop, but made his way back into eighth position within five laps, pitting again on laps 203 and 239 for tires and chassis adjustments as the team tried to improve the handling of Bowyer's machine.

Following the lap-239 pit stop, Bowyer was battling for track position with teammate Jeff Burton when the two tangled, causing body damage to both vehicles and bringing out the seventh caution of the evening. Bowyer made a trip down pit road during the ensuing caution so that his team could evaluate the damage and service the Chevrolet with four additional tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, as changes made during the previous pit stop created a tight-handling condition.

He restarted 22nd on lap 250, but the remainder of the race proved to be a challenge for Bowyer, who pitted again for right-side tires on lap 310, but struggled to gain track position.

He finished 17th, on the lead lap.

Jamie McMurray captured his third win of the 2010 season, while Kyle Busch finished second. Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five finishers.

Bowyer's fellow RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished eighth and 20th, respectively.

NASCAR takes its premier series to Virginia next week for the sixth race of the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

CLINT BOWYER: "Man, that was rough. It was pretty much a nightmare. This was just a bad weekend all together for our Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet. We unloaded bad and just really never got it. When you do that, you play catch-up the rest of the weekend and it is what it is. We used pit strategy to get into the top 10, and for a while it looked like we were going to be able to get a decent finish, but the car's aero package is so sensitive that it was hard to maneuver after that late-race contact."

-source: rcr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch