Bowyer Back in Top 12 Following Strong Showing at Pocono LONG POND, Pa. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team are back inside the coveted top 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings following a ninth-place ...
Bowyer Back in Top 12 Following Strong Showing at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team are back inside the coveted top 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings following a ninth-place finish in Sunday's Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target at Pocono Raceway.
Bowyer gained one position in the standings, following the top-10 finish, and sits 117 makers behind eighth-place point man and Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton.
The Shane Wilson-led team unloaded a fast No. 33 Chevrolet on Friday, posting the 15th-fastest speed in the weekend's opening practice session. Later that afternoon, Bowyer toured the 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track in 53.211 seconds, a mere .109 seconds off the pole sitter's time that was strong enough for a spot on the outside of row one for Sunday's 500-mile race.
Bowyer & Company continued to prove the strength of their Impala as they posted the fourth- and 12th-fastest times, respectively, in Saturday's duel practice sessions and left the 'Tricky Triangle' optimistic for the following day's race.
Rain delayed the start of Sunday's event by approximately two hours as the green flag waved shortly after 3 p.m. local time. Bowyer lost one position on the second lap, but was a mainstay in third place until the competition caution flag was displayed on lap 16. During this time, he pitted for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. When racing resumed on lap 19, his No. 33 machine came to life.
The Emporia, Kan., native made a pass for the lead on lap 38 and held the point for next 40 circuits. He would pit on lap 78, under green-flag conditions, handing the lead over the eventual race winner Denny Hamlin. Once the field cycled through the running order, and all competitors pitted, Bowyer returned to the top spot.
The two-time NSCS race winner led until a round of pit stops were made on lap 98, under caution. Bowyer returned to the track third for the lap-100 restart, but began to fade through the field as he began to battle a loose-handling condition on his No. 33 Chevy.
Bowyer would race between the fifth and 14th positions over the next 68 laps, which included three caution periods within 13 laps of each other. The yellow flag was displayed on laps 155, 160 and 168, leading to various pit strategies among the Cup Series teams. During the first two cautions, Bowyer hit pit road for four tires, fuel and a host of chassis adjustments, and maintained a top-12 spot.
Then, during the lap-168 yellow-flag period, Wilson called for right-side tires and fuel only. Several competitors stayed out, while almost every other car that hit pit road just took fuel. Bowyer was 29th following the pit stop and, because he was one of the last cars on the lead lap, the 31-year-old driver returned to pit lane for left-side tires one lap later.
Racing resumed on lap 171 and Bowyer, scored in 29th positions, had the freshest set of tires of any competitor ahead of him. He roared his way through the field and picked off 20 spots prior to the event's final caution flag on lap 200. The race was extended four laps past it scheduled distance, but Bowyer was able to hold onto ninth position as he crossed the start/finish line to score his eighth top-10 finish of the 2010 season.
Hamlin scored his fourth victory of the 2010 season, beating his teammate Kyle Busch to the checkered flag, while Chevrolet drivers Tony Stewart, RCR teammate Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the rest of the top-five finishers.
Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to Michigan International Speedway.
Clint Bowyer: "We had a good run that got us back inside the top 12, but we definitely had a car that could have finished better. The entire Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team did a great job preparing a fast Chevy for me today, but we didn't have the finish we deserved. We led in the first half of the race and then the car got real loose. We came on strong there at the end with the four fresh tires and left with a good points day overall."