NASCAR: Is Clint Bowyer a Serious Championship Contender After Winning Richmond?

Hugo Olguin@@RealHugoOlguinContributor IIIMarch 17, 2017

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After a long, rainy night in Richmond, we're finally going to start the Chase.

Jeff Gordon beat out Kyle Busch for the final wild-card spot, and now the points are reset with the expect favorites at the top of the points standings.  There is one driver in the Chase who could fly under the radar and make a real run for the title.

That driver is Clint Bowyer.

Bowyer earned his second win of the season with great pit strategy at the Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond to solidify himself as a championship contender.

Bowyer has been building momentum during the second half of the regular season with 10 top-10 finishes in the last 13 races.  His two wins have also come in the second half of the regular season.  

Bowyer came into the 2012 season with a lot to prove. 

He took a major risk leaving one of the top tier teams at Richard Childress Racing for a MIchael Waltrip Racing team that was still growing.

This season was Bowyer's chance to prove that he's a good race car driver without having RCR equipment, and he's shown us that he can get the job done.

Bowyer is going into the Chase only six points out of first place.  

Bowyer and the rest of MWR have surprised many with how well all three teams have run and how Bowyer and MWR teammate Martin Truex Jr. have both made the Chase.

That's right.  MWR has just as many teams in the Chase as Rouse Fenway Racing and more teams than Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing and Richard Childress Racing.

Bowyer is at an organization that is flying high and running strong at the right time.  

I believe the track that will be the biggest challenge for Bowyer is Charlotte.  He has only three top-10 finishes in 13 career starts, and his last top 10 was back in 2010.  

While Charlotte will be a big challenge, Bowyer should have Talladega circled on his calendar.  

Talladega is the wild-card race in the Chase where anything can happen, and Bowyer knows how to make it happen there.

He has five straight top-10 finishes including two wins.  

While most people will be watching Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, I'm going to be looking at Clint Bowyer to make a big run for the championship.