Talladega: Clint Bowyer race report

Play-It-Safe Strategy Nets Bowyer a Seventh-Place Finish at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. --Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team's strategy to ride around in the back of the pack to avoid trouble and patiently make a late-race dash...

Play-It-Safe Strategy Nets Bowyer a Seventh-Place Finish at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. --Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team's strategy to ride around in the back of the pack to avoid trouble and patiently make a late-race dash towards the front resulted in a seventh-place finish in Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The top-10 result advances Bowyer three spots, to 11th, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, 237 markers behind point leader Jimmie Johnson.

The Shane Wilson-led team began the weekend by posting the 22nd- and ninth-fastest times, respectively, during Friday's dual-practice sessions. The 43-car starting field was set by the NASCAR rule book because Saturday's qualifying session was canceled due to inclement weather, lining Bowyer on the outside of row seven, in 14th, for Sunday's race.

On race day morning, Bowyer and Wilson devised a three-step plan for the scheduled 499-mile affair. First, the Emporia, Kan., native would drop to the rear of the field to allow ample time to slow down if there was an accident in front of him. Second, the team would pit one lap following the lead lap cars to avoid being involved in a pit road accident. Third, the two-time NSCS race winner would make his move and race towards the front as the race neared its end.

An estimated 123, 500 race fans were on hand as the green flag waved shortly after 12 noon local time. Bowyer implemented the No. 33's strategy early as he dropped to the back of the pack on lap two.

The No. 33 Chevy Impala raced single file in the rear of the field for close to 150 of the scheduled 188-lap distance, avoiding two accidents ahead of him. During this time, Bowyer would pit as if he was a lapped-down car, hitting pit lane a lap after the leaders to receive service. On each of the their five stops, the BB&T over-the-wall crew bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires, added fuel and made no adjustments.

On lap 150, Bowyer radioed his spotter Mike Dillon that it was the time to head towards the front. A two-car accident 26 laps later halted the No. 33's forward progress, but allowed for Wilson's team to top off the fuel cell and add fresh right side tires. Bowyer would restart 24th with nine laps remaining.

Then, three back-to-back multi-car accidents lead to three attempts at green, white and checkered flag finishes. During this time, Bowyer avoided being involved in those incidents and methodically advanced his position before each yellow flag waved. He started 12th on the final restart and picked off five spots over the final two laps to finish seventh.

Bowyer's RCR teammate Kevin Harvick made a last-lap maneuver to earn the victory, edging Jamie McMurray to the checkered flag by a mere .011 seconds. Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin rounded out the top-five finishers. Bowyer's other RCR stablemate Jeff Burton was involved in a lap-182 incident, but returned to the track to finish 32nd.

Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to site of Bowyer's second career NSCS victory, Richmond International Raceway.

CLINT BOWYER:

"Our plan definitely worked. Last year, we wrecked early on at Talladega and that created a hole we had to dig ourselves out of for the rest of the summer months. This time around, Shane Wilson and I felt our best chance at dodging bullets would be to stick to the strategy of laying back. It played right into our hands and I'm happy with the top-10 result. A big thanks for everyone on the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team for their hard work this weekend."

-source: rcr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya