Pocono II: Clint Bowyer race report

Long Weekend for Bowyer, No. 33 Team Ends with Top-15 Finish LONG POND, Pa. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Hartford Chevrolet team overcame several setbacks during the Pennsylvania 500 race weekend at Pocono Raceway to earn their 13th top-15 ...

Long Weekend for Bowyer, No. 33 Team Ends with Top-15 Finish

LONG POND, Pa. -- Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Hartford Chevrolet team overcame several setbacks during the Pennsylvania 500 race weekend at Pocono Raceway to earn their 13th top-15 finish of the 2010 season.

With five races remaining before the 12-man Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, the Emporia, Kan., native remains 12th in the point standings and sits 34 markers ahead of Mark Martin in 13th.

The Shane Wilson-led team began the weekend by posting the ninth-fastest time in Friday's lone practice session. Late that afternoon, during qualifying, Bowyer had a strong run going and was on track to take the provisional pole. However, the back end of the No. 33 Impala slid out from underneath him as he entered turn 3 and Bowyer did all he could to point his primary Hartford Chevrolet in the right direction. Although the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner made a terrific save, the end result was a less-than-desired 40th starting spot for Sunday's race. The team bounced back the following day as Bowyer registered the sixth-fastest speeds in the weekend's final two practice sessions.

Sunday's 200-lap event began shortly before 2 p.m. local time in front of an estimated crowd of 100,000 race fans. The No. 33 team's plan was to make smart decisions and use patience in order to earn the best possible points finish.

Once the green flag dropped, Bowyer wasted little time, picking off 10 spots before the 43-car field completed the first lap. The 31-year-old RCR driver continued his forward march, despite battling a loose-handling car, as he raced his way into 24th prior to the competition caution at lap 16. The leaders hit pit road for service one lap later and Bowyer received four tires, fuel and a host of adjustments to help get his Chevrolet dialed in. Quick pit work by the No. 33 team netted their driver three four spots for the lap-19 restart.

A long, 103-lap green-flag run ensued, which saw two rounds of green-flag pit stops. On each visit Bowyer made to pit road, Wilson called for air and chassis adjustment, along with four tires and fuel, to help alleviate the lack of grip the No. 33 Chevrolet had exiting the corners. Although Bowyer continued to fight the loose-handling condition during this time, he was able to gain five more spots and was scored 15th when the event's second yellow flag waved on lap 122.

Another chassis adjustment during this pit stop seemed to help Bowyer take off better as racing resumed on lap 126. He raced his way into ninth position prior to the lap-146 caution. After pitting for four tires and fuel, Bowyer restarted 12th on lap 150, but quickly reclaimed ninth place four laps later. However, the racing action was short lived as a single-car spin brought out the race's fourth yellow flag on lap 159.

The decision was made, during the ensuing caution period, for Bowyer to stay out. In an effort to fake out competitors, Bowyer dipped down as if he was going to pit, but jumped back up onto the racing surface prior to the pit road commitment line. NASCAR deemed that Bowyer did maintain his track position and, as a result, placed the No. 33 machine in 12th for the lap 162-restart.

As racing resumed, Bowyer engaged in a spirited battle with Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson over the next three laps. Then, the No. 48 of Johnson made contact with the No. 2 of Busch as they entered turn 2. Busch drove across the nose of Bowyer, spun sideways and came back up into the No. 33 machine. Although Bowyer was able to drive away, he felt his car was damaged from the incident.

NASCAR red flagged the race for approximated 28 minutes for the accident, as well as, for a rain shower that began. Once the cars re-fired, Bowyer was forced to hit pit road, while it was closed, for a flat right-front tire. Bowyer made a total of two stops to survey the damage, received four fresh Goodyear Eagles each time. The race remained under yellow-flag conditions until the rain picked up and the field was brought down pit road on lap 177. Another red flag period ensued for 20 minutes as track drying efforts began.

Once the rain let up and the track was dry, racing action was back underway on lap 179. Bowyer had to restart at the tail end of the field, in 27th, to serve his pit violation for pitting while pit lane was closed earlier. He methodically worked his way around lapped-down cars and then began picking off positions one-by-one.

Over the final 20 laps, Bowyer would take his No. 33 Chevrolet three and, sometime, four wide in order to make passes for position. He gained a total of 12 spots during this time before taking the checkered flag 15th.

Greg Biffle scored his first victory of the 2010 season, beating Tony Stewart to the start/finish line by 3.598 seconds. Carl Edwards finished third, Bowyer's RCR teammate Kevin Harvick was fourth and Denny Hamlin finished fifth. Bowyer's other stablemate, Jeff Burton, finished eighth.

Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to Watkins Glen International for its second and final road course race of the season.

CLINT BOWYER: ""The No. 33 Hartford Chevrolet team fought hard all race long. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) made adjustments throughout the race and we finally got our car dialed in during the late goings. It was still a disappointing way to end our day. We needed to finish ahead of a few of the teams that we are battling in the point standings and they gained us today. It's a step back, but our team that never gives up. We'll head to Watkins Glen looking to have a good points day and, hopefully, make some ground up on the guys ahead and behind us."

-source: rcr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin