Bowyer & Co. Settle for Runner-up Spot After Leading Late Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 The Hartford Chevrolet team looked to be on the way to victory before a caution for debris with 16 laps remaining shuffled the field and the team had to...
Bowyer & Co. Settle for Runner-up Spot After Leading Late
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 The Hartford Chevrolet team looked to be on the way to victory before a caution for debris with 16 laps remaining shuffled the field and the team had to "settle" for a second-place finish in the Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Bowyer remains 12th in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings but is now a mere six points behind Matt Kenseth for 11th place and 32 behind Greg Biffle for 10th. There are six races remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Bowyer, interim crew chief Scott Miller and the No. 33 team were strong in practice and it paid off with in Friday afternoon's qualifying session. Bowyer was the 13th quickest qualifier with a lap of 39.286 seconds at 183.271 mph on the two-mile oval.
The green flag waved over the field on a warm and sunny Southern California afternoon. Bowyer made an early move toward the front, picking up seven positions in the first 10 laps of the 200-lap event. He moved into the top-five on lap 18 and was third on lap 37 when he pitted under green. The Hartford Chevrolet was second after the field cycled through and was in the same position when the first of nine caution flags slowed the action on lap 41.
Bowyer ran between the fourth and seventh positions during the balance of the race's first 100 laps. After the fourth caution of the day, beginning on lap 114, the No. 33 Chevrolet made a strong move to the front. He was second on lap 121 and took the top spot five laps later. He maintained that lead for the next 12 laps, gave it up for one lap and then returned to the point from lap 139 through 148. Bowyer led for one of the next 20 laps before retaking the lead on lap 168.
The No. 33 Hartford Chevy led for 27 laps and Bowyer seemed headed for victory before a caution for debris slowed the field on lap 184. Director of competition and interim crew chief Miller called his driver to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Bowyer returned to the racing surface in third place as others chose to take only two tires and, after a final caution that set up a three-lap dash to the checkered flag, passed Jimmie Johnson for the runner-up position on the final lap.
Stewart earned his first victory at Auto Club Speedway. Bowyer, Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five finishers.
Fellow RCR stablemates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished seventh and 23rd, respectively.
Charlotte Motor Speedway plays host to the next round of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
Clint Bowyer: "The Hartford Chevrolet was good and we had a good day all day long. I really was worried that this was going to be a major struggle being without my crew chief, but Scott Miller and everybody filled in well, and I think it speaks volumes about Shane's preparation back at the shop. It was a good race. We were strong. I passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap, and it felt really good. I didn't know what to expect, to be honest with you, without our crew chief and everything. I've never been without a crew chief and never been in that situation. But Scott filled in very well."
On Chevy winning 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers' Cup for the 34th time since 1950: "I've always been proud to drive a Chevrolet. It's the only thing I've ever driven basically since I was 16 years old. So that's just an awesome thing to be a part of."