Bowyer & Co. Leave Martinsville Disappointed Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team had high hopes of being a contender for victory in Sunday's NASCAR Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Instead, their day ended far differently...
Bowyer & Co. Leave Martinsville Disappointed
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team had high hopes of being a contender for victory in Sunday's NASCAR Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Instead, their day ended far differently when damage from an incident prior to the halfway mark resulted in an extended trip to the garage for repairs, ultimately resulting in a 38th-place finish.
Bowyer remains 12th in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with four races remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Bowyer, interim crew chief Scott Miller and the No. 33 team were strong in Friday's lone practice session and it paid off during their qualifying session. Bowyer was the 17th-quickest qualifier with a lap of 19.631 seconds at 96.460 mph on the half-mile oval.
Following two really strong practice sessions on Saturday afternoon which saw Bowyer and company second and third on the charts, respectively, all that was remaining was some final fine tuning to the No. 33 Chevy for Sunday's 500-lap affair.
Bright sunny skies greeted the crowd of 56,000 race fans at the southern Virginia track for the 32nd race of the 2010 Sprint Cup season. Shortly after Bowyer took the green flag, he realized the BB&T Chevy was not to his liking as it became much too tight to turn properly through the corners. The Emporia, Kan., native wasn't able to maintain position and dropped to 21st in the running order by the time the first caution flew on lap 47.
Miller called for hefty adjustments to the BB&T Chevrolet during the team's first pit stop of the day on lap 50. Following a speedy stop by the BB&T crew, Bowyer returned to the track in the 19th position for the restart on lap 53.
It was quickly obvious the adjustments were helpful as Bowyer began picking off positions on the track and was listed in the 14th position by the next caution on lap 111. Additional adjustments were made to the burgundy and white machine during the ensuing pit stop and the three-time NSCS winner returned to green in the 14th position on lap 116.
By lap 132, Bowyer had moved into the top 10 and was getting more comfortable with the handling on the BB&T Chevy. Soon, the tight-handling condition returned though Bowyer fought through it and held onto the 11th position prior to the next caution on lap 172. The pit crew provided major chassis adjustments during the pit stop, along with four fresh tires and fuel. Bowyer restarted the race on lap 177 in the 17th position.
Miller assured Bowyer they had 500 laps to assist him with the handling on the BB&T Chevrolet and they would work together to get it right.
Unfortunately, while running in the 14th position on lap 193, the brakes locked up on the No. 33 Chevrolet as Bowyer dove into turn three at the .526-mile track, causing an uncontrollable wheel-hopping condition. The 31-year-old driver got into the back of another competitor and spun into the wall between turns three and four. The impact was much worse than originally thought and required extensive time in the garage for repairs. Though the BB&T Chevrolet was able to return Bowyer to the track, the result was a 38th-place finish in the 500-lap event.
Denny Hamlin captured the victory, followed by Mark Martin and Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five finishers.
Fellow RCR stablemate Jeff Burton finished the NASCAR Fast Relief 500 in the ninth position.
Talladega Superspeedway plays host to the next round of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
Clint Bowyer: "It's a really disappointing finish for the BB&T Chevy after being so strong in practice. We were working on the handling and thought we were getting it figured out. It was the first time all weekend we had the wheel hopping, so not sure what happened. We'll head to Talladega next weekend and hope for better results."