DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team went to Darlington Raceway looking to celebrate The Hartford's 200th birthday in style, but a series of unfortunate events throughout the weekend led to a 32nd-place ...
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team went to Darlington Raceway looking to celebrate The Hartford's 200th birthday in style, but a series of unfortunate events throughout the weekend led to a 32nd-place finish in Saturday night's SHOWTIME Southern 500.
The less-than-desired result drops Bowyer two spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and into a tie with Ryan Newman for 14th position. A total of 38 markers separate both Chevrolet competitors from the coveted top 12 with 15 races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.
The series of unlucky events that plagued the No. 33 Hartford team's weekend began during the first practice session on Friday. Bowyer was recording consistent lap times, but with approximately 40 minutes remaining in the session, the former Darlington pole winner made heavy right-side contact with the turn two wall. Once back in the garage, the Shane Wilson-led team deemed that their primary Chevrolet was damaged beyond repair and they would have to go to their back-up car.
During final practice, the No. 33 team worked to get their back-up Impala better in race trim. Bowyer concluded final practice 33rd on the board and qualified 27th later that evening. The team would continue to work on their Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines-powered machine that evening and again, once the garage opened, on Saturday afternoon.
The green flag waved shortly after 7:45 p.m. Saturday evening for the 367-lap affair. Although Bowyer used a conservative approach, avoiding trouble and keeping the fenders on his car, he managed to pick off seven positions before lap 20. He would race between the 27th and 20th positions over the first 99 laps, before bad luck struck.
The Emporia, Kan., native radioed his crew that he broke a brake line. He first brought his No. 33 Chevrolet to the attention of his over-the-wall crew one lap later, but the broken rear-brake line would have to be repaired in the garage. Bowyer returned to the track about seven minutes later scored 38th, 19 laps down to the leaders.
They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, but about 15 laps later, the rear-brake line failed again. Once more, Bowyer brought his white, blue and maroon colored Impala back to the garage. After repairs were made, along with chassis adjustments to help the car handle better, he maintained the 38th position, but was scored 31 laps down to the leaders.
Although Bowyer was not passing cars for position, he kept a fast pace for the remainder of the evening. He would post times consistent with those inside the top seven and, on a couple of occasions, he would be the fastest car on the track.
As other competitors dropped out of the race after being involved in accidents, Bowyer began picking up positions. The No. 33 Hartford Racing team picked up six spots before the checkered flag waved as they crossed the finish line in 32nd.
Denny Hamlin won his third NSCS race of the 2010 season. Jaime McMurray, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five finishers.
Bowyer's RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished sixth and eighth, respectively. Harvick continues to lead the NSCS point standings, while Burton remains ninth.
Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to the one-mile concrete oval in Dover, Delaware.
CLINT BOWYER "It was a frustrating weekend for the entire No. 33 Hartford Chevrolet team. Shane Wilson (crew chief) and all these guys worked their tails off all weekend. First, we had to go to a back-up car and then to have the brake line issues twice was disappointing. Once we fixed that issue, we had a fast race car. That made it even more frustrating because we know we could have finished up front. I have to thank everyone at ECR and back at the shop for all their hard work this season. We had a pretty hard hit in the points, but we're hoping to bounce back at Dover."