Bowyer, No. 33 Team Have Strong Showing in Wild Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2010) -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team kicked off their 2010 season by leading 37 laps and finishing fourth in Sunday's...
Bowyer, No. 33 Team Have Strong Showing in Wild Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 2010) -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team kicked off their 2010 season by leading 37 laps and finishing fourth in Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
The top-five finish places the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings.
Bowyer posted the ninth-fastest time in last-Saturday's qualifying session, lining him up fifth for the first Duel 150 qualifying race. Bowyer & Co. ran a conservative race on Thursday where his fourth-place finish secured him a ninth-place starting spot for the 52nd running of the "Great American Race."
In front of an estimated crowd of 175, 000 race fans, the green flag waved shortly after 1 p.m. to start Sunday's 500-miler at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The Emporia, Kan., native raced inside the top 15 for the majority of the opening 100 laps, but battled a condition that affected the No. 33 Chevy's speed through the high-banked 31-degree turns. Crew chief Shane Wilson devised a plan to help get the car to Bowyer's liking on each visit to pit road and just prior to the race's midway point, the adjustments made by the Helping Hands over-the-wall pit crew began to pay off.
On lap 100, the yellow, red and black No. 33 Chevy took the point over the 43-car field. Over the next 25 laps, Bowyer swapped the top spot five times before NASCAR displayed the red flag for a pothole that formed on the lower racing groove in Turn 1. Bowyer led the field down pit road where the cars were stationed for the next hour and 40 minutes while track workers repaired the broken asphalt.
When racing resumed, the two-time Sprint Cup Series winner engaged in a spirit battle for the top spot with four other competitors, leading three times for a total of four laps. Bowyer was passed by RCR teammate Kevin Harvick for the lead on lap 138, but was able to maintain a top-five spot.
However, on lap 161, the patchwork came undone and the field was brought down pit road again. The asphalt was patched with a different agent this time and allowed for the race to continue until its conclusion.
The 2008 Nationwide Series champion restarted third on lap 168 and began his march to the front. Bowyer made a clean pass around Greg Biffle to retake the lead 18 laps later and, as the laps ticked down, it appeared the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Racing team had a fast enough car to contend for the win. However, a three-car accident on lap 195 brought out the caution and bunched up the field for a lap-198 restart.
As the race leader, Bowyer chose the outside line, in front of Harvick, for the double-file restart with two laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap event. But, it was the inside lane that had momentum and as the field was roaring off Turn 3, heading to take the white flag, a three-car melee broke out behind the front runners which set up the first of three attempts for a green-white-checkered finish.
Another multi-car accident broke out on the first attempt of overtime that lined Bowyer up eighth for the lap-204 final restart. He was pushed toward the front by fellow Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the field took the white flag on lap 205. Bowyer tried to make a move to get around the leaders, but came up just short as he crossed the finish line fourth.
Jamie McMurray edged Earnhardt Jr. by 0.119 seconds to secure his first Daytona 500 victory and his fourth Cup Series win. Biffle, Bowyer and David Reuitmann rounded out the top-five finishers.
RCR teammate Harvick, who led 47 laps, finished seventh while fellow teammate Jeff Burton, who was shuffled out of the top-five pack in the final two laps, finished 11th. Additionally, McMurray's triumph marks the first Daytona 500 victory for Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines. Five of the top-11 finishers were powered by ECR engines, including Bowyer (fourth), Harvick (seventh), Juan Pablo Montoya (10th) and Burton (11th).
Next week, NASCAR's senior circuit makes a westward trek for its first of two trips to Fontana, Calif.
CLINT BOWYER: "I probably made a mistake there at the end when we had a shot to win. I needed my teammate behind me on that restart and I chose the outside. In hindsight, it wasn't the best decision but the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was very strong and we had a lot of fun. This is the second year in a row we've had a fourth-place finish here at Daytona and, hopefully, we can get a little bit better as the season rolls on."