"Miserable" Bowyer has tough season brightened by top ten finish

Last week, Clint Bowyer described his season as “miserable”.

"Miserable" Bowyer has tough season brightened by top ten finish
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet car detail
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet

No doubt, running in second-rate equipment will have that effect on a driver who is used to racing with the sport’s best and not in the back of the field.

But the former short-track ace, who started 36th in the Food City 500, battled from the rear for his first top 10 of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday

“It was a good finish and I’m proud of the finish,” Bowyer said. “We had some luck which helped but proud of the result and good that the 5-hour ENERGY Chevrolet was able to get a top 10 today.” 

Bowyer was lapped early but earned the lucky dog on Lap 226. He was lapped again by winner Carl Edwards but with a wave around, returned to the lead lap. Bowyer was running 17th when the race restarted on Lap 417 following the 11th caution. 

Tires made the difference

During the next caution, when the front-runners stayed out, Bowyer came to pit road for tires on Lap 443 with the Roush Fenway Racing Fords of Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., along with Paul Menard and Matt DiBenedetto — in a former Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Only Bayne (fifth) and DiBenedetto (sixth) finished ahead of Bowyer, whose team completed 16 pit stops but ranked 15th for time spent on pit road. 

Team owner Harry Scott congratulated his crew after matching a career team-best finish of eighth established by Justin Allgaier in this race last year. 

“Hey guys, I’m proud of all of you,” Scott told the crew over the radio. “You gutted it out today — and guts aren’t pretty. But God damn it, I’m proud of you. Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.”

Clearly, this will be the longest season of Bowyer’s 11-year Sprint Cup career. He’s never known what it’s like not to have top of the line cars at his disposal — or an elite teammate he can turn to for a second opinion. That will change next season when he takes over the Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Ford. 

Still, that doesn’t mean his team isn’t exerting as much effort as any of the other 39 squads on pit road. It’s just a matter of having the funding to supply the necessary resources to run up front. 

And yes, it’s taken Bowyer longer to acclimate to his surroundings than most would have imagined. One aspect that had been missing this season was a seat that suited the driver. Since Las Vegas, Bowyer had complained to the team how uncomfortable the Hendrick carbon fiber composite seat that had been fitted into the No. 15 cars were from his perspective. This week, the team acquired one of Bowyer’s aluminum seats from his Michael Waltrip Racing days. After 50 hours of retro-fitting the cockpit, Bowyer had a seat of his liking. 

If Bowyer is sincere about helping to take this team to the next level, Sunday was a good place to start. 

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