Fresh out of Victory Lane this past weekend, Clint Bowyer spent a little time with the media on Tuesday morning. Among the topics of discussion were his win last weekend at Talladega, the return from suspension of crew chief Shane Wilson and the lingering disappointment from the penalty that knocked him out of contention for the Sprint Cup.
When the caution flag flew on the final lap at Talladega last Sunday, it took NASCAR officials a few minutes to review the tapes and determine whether it was Clint Bowyer or Kevin Harvick that should be declared the winner, based on where they were at the instant of the caution.
Ultimately, it was determined that Bowyer was inches ahead of Harvick at the time the yellow was displayed, and for the second time in the Chase, Bowyer went to victory lane, making him the only driver with that distinction.
When asked about the final lap at Talladega, and if the chance of a last lap caution plays any factor in where he positions himself for the stretch run Bowyer said, "It's a difficult situation to try to balance and juggle around. Obviously, you need to be in a position to win the race. But one lap at Talladega is a long way around there. If the caution comes out at any point, and you're not at the point, you're going to lose."
He added. "I think the best way to do that is to try to lead, be leading when the white flag comes out. Anything that happens after that, you know, if a caution comes out, the race is yours. If it doesn't, at least you've got an opportunity to win the race." He further added "if you're second and the caution comes out, you're going to wish you'd done it a lot sooner than you did."
Another topic of interest is the return of crew chief Shane Wilson to the top of the pitbox this weekend at Texas. When asked about his return, Bowyer said, "I think we can be better coming out of the box here at Texas. I look to be strong."
Bowyer was quick to praise the job that interim crew chief Scott Miller did. "He did a great job. (But with Shane Wilson's absence) It's opened our eyes to a couple things that we've been missing, you know. Communication side of it on race day is one I think."
Bowyer also found that in Wilson's suspension he was forced to take a little bit more of a leadership role. He said, "I think it helped me having to pick my end of it up a little bit, take the reins myself, be a little bit more of a quarterback instead of just having Shane do it all."
The win at Talladega was Bowyer's second victory of the season, both coming in the Chase, with the first being at the Chase's opening race—New Hampshire. After that race, Bowyer's team was penalized 150 championship points, as his car failed post race inspection.
That 150 point penalty all but ruined Bowyer's championship chances before they even really began. The disappointment still rests with Bowyer even after his most recent victory.
"Oh, yeah. I mean, I've thought that ever since the penalty, to be honest with you. To win the Chase, the opener at New Hampshire, then have the penalty, ever since then it's just kind of been a pretty rocky road, truthfully not much to look forward to. You lose your crew chief, mojo, pit crew, everything is tumbling down. To win a race got things back in the right direction, where they needed to be" said Bowyer.
And while his chances of winning this season's championship never really materialized, all is not lost for Bowyer. Aside from the two wins he currently has, he feels confident that his team can get at least one more and finish in the top 10 in points and be able to go to the season ending banquet.
Bowyer feels that with the way he has been running as of late, both this weekend at Texas, as well as next weekend in Phoenix are both winnable races for him. When asked about this weekend, Bowyer said "we have a brand-new racecar, and more importantly more horsepower, the engine boys are very excited about the engine that we're running."
He added "I'm looking forward to checking it out and seeing what it's got, hopefully landing ourselves in Victory Lane."
So, while a championship in 2010 for Clint Bowyer is not in the cards, he does currently have the distinction of being able to say that he is the only driver to win two races in the Chase. And with the way this team has been running as of late, they may be able to lay claim to being the only team to win three races during the Chase.