With just three top-5 and seven other top-10 finishes in the first 25 races of 2014, Bowyer has uncharacteristically struggled this season.
Even worse, he hasn't won a Sprint Cup race since October 2012 at Charlotte.
Heading into last Sunday night's race at Atlanta, Bowyer looked like he'd sneak into the Chase. Unfortunately, he had one of his worst outings of the season at Atlanta, finishing 38th thanks to a broken transmission shifter, and knocked himself off the 16-driver Chase grid.
Now that he's 19 points behind Greg Biffle and a massive 42 points behind Ryan Newman, Bowyer essentially has two options:
1) Win. That's the only way he can assure himself of making the Chase.
2) Drive like he stole it in the race and finish at least 20 positions higher than Biffle. (And even that may still not be enough).
ESPN.com on Bowyer: "Just one driver has ever pulled a Jeremy Mayfield — not surprisingly, Mayfield himself, a decade ago — to launch themselves into the Chase at Richmond from the outside. And a must-win situation in the 1-versus-42 scenario of a race is much more difficult than in a head-to-head sporting event. Even when racing well, odd things happen, like gear shifters and transmissions breaking."
Since his first full-time season in 2006, Bowyer has made the Chase five times and missed it three others.
Right now, Bowyer's odds are 50-50 at best. About the only thing in his favor is his overall record at Richmond: In 17 starts, he has two wins, five top-5 and nine top-10 finishes.