NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Preview: Clint Bowyer

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
Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst ISeptember 13, 2012

Every day here at Bleacher Report, we'll be counting down the 12 drivers in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup by posting two driver previews, breaking down how they got in and what they're going to do with their berth. Thursday sees us preview two drivers with two wins apiece: Greg Biffle (fifth in points) and, here, Clint Bowyer (sixth).

CLINT BOWYER, #15 5 Hour Energy Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing

CHASE POSITION: 6th, 2006 points (2 wins)

MAKING THE CHASE: Bowyer's "clinch" race was a bit underwhelming, as he finished three laps down in 27th at Atlanta. He made up for it, however, by winning the final regular season race at Richmond by stretching his last load of fuel.

LAST 10 RACES: Bowyer scored six top-10s in the Race to the Chase, posting an average finish of 11.7. His best run outside of the Richmond win came at Loudon, where he scored a third place finish.

LAST YEAR'S CHASE: Bowyer is usually good for one win in every Chase, and last year's came at Talladega. But despite posting six top-10s in the final 10 races, Bowyer was the first driver out when the Chase cutoff came, and thus had to settle for 13th place in points.

AT CHASE TRACKS: Bowyer's best average finish at a Chase track is 10.2 at Chicago, where he has five top-10s in six starts. Four of his seven career Sprint Cup wins have come at Chase tracks: two at Loudon and two at Talladega, including last year's.

OUTLOOK: We all know Bowyer is a Chase-caliber driver, but we had no idea how good Michael Waltrip Racing was going to be in their first three-car season since Toyota's fledgling years in NASCAR. For that reason, if you're looking for a dark horse, here's your guy.

Bowyer has played the role before, with a best career Chase finish of third. Waltrip's equipment is good enough to win races, and Bowyer could cement the team's breakout year with a surprise championship.

For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.

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