Darlington Raceway 200
CLINT BOWYER FIGHTS THROUGH THE FIELD FOR TOP-TEN FINISH AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY
DARLINGTON, S.C. — Clint Bowyer brought the No. 33 RUUD Chevrolet Impala home in the sixth position in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway after a unique set of circumstances which started evening. Weather caused NASCAR to cancel the afternoon qualifying session, lining the teams up per the rule book with the field set by practice speeds. The No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team placed the Chevrolet in the second starting position, but Bowyer was required to fall to the rear of the field as a penalty for arriving at the mandatory driver meeting after roll call had been taken.
The green flag brought the 43-car field to life and within the opening laps Bowyer moved the No. 33 machine up several positions. By the competition caution at lap 25, which NASCAR had scheduled due to the earlier inclement weather for teams to check tire wear, the driver was running in 16th-place. Bowyer relayed to crew chief David Hyder that the handling on the RUUD Chevrolet was pretty good around the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. Given the feedback, Hyder called for four tires and fuel during the ensuing pit stop.
Back to green-flag racing at lap 32, Bowyer was back to climbing through the field. By lap 36, the Emporia, Kan. native had settled into the 10th position.
The second yellow flag of the night waved at lap 45 for debris on the track. Bowyer radioed to his team that the No. 33 Chevrolet was pretty good but slightly tighter than he had experience during the previous runs. The team opted not to come to pit road, however, and stayed on track to maintain their track position for the lap 52 restart.
As the 147-lap event neared the halfway point, Bowyer was running solidly in the top 10, but reported to his KHI crew that the car had become tight off of the corners. Opportunity came for Hyder to bring the No. 33 RUUD Chevrolet in for adjustments to remedy the tight handling condition with the third caution of the night at lap 73. Bowyer brought the machine down pit road for four tires, fuel and a minor chassis adjustment, and then took the lap 80 restart from the 11th position.
With the field back to green-flag conditions, Bowyer resumed his charge through the top 10. The No. 33 was running in the seventh position when the field fell under caution for a fourth time at lap 89. Following the lead cars, Bowyer brought his vehicle to pit road for the team to add fuel only.
The green flag again waved at lap 95, but just as the field was rounding the backstretch, a multi-car accident brought the yellow flag back out. Bowyer was able to avoid substantial contact and damage even though the right rear was slightly hit by one of the victims of the accident. NASCAR cleared the race track and brought the field back to green at lap 104 with the No. 33 RUUD car in the eighth position. Bowyer continued to fight to advance through the top five over the remaining laps, but when the checkered flag flew, he came across the finish line in the sixth place.
With Clint Bowyer in the driver’s seat, the No. 33 KHI team will head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the 5-Hour Energy 200 next Saturday, May 14.