Clint Bowyer had little to complain about after winning the fifth race in the “Chase for the Sprint Cup.” He moved up in the NASCAR standings and won his first-ever race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track where he’s been less than fortunate.
“First and foremost, this is my worst track,” Bowyer admitted after the race. “Honestly, look at my stats. It’s horrible.”
Bowyer knew that it would take something special to get back into championship contention. He came to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in fifth place with a huge points’ gap to make up. He knew that he had a large task ahead of him to get a good result. Bowyer’s record at the track shows one second-place and only three Top-10 finishes in 13 Sprint Cup starts. All of that was of little consequence after he won the Bank of America 500, on Saturday night.
“It’s so much fun to come to the racetrack knowing that you’ve got cars that are capable of getting the job done, you’ve just got to figure out how to make it work.” Bowyer said the most important thing to come out of the weekend is that he is very much part of the Chase. “Five races left and we’re still in contention for a championship.”
Bowyer drove the final 50 laps, or so, conservatively. Bowyer’s pit crew knew he had to save fuel if he was going to make it to the finish line. In the end, Bowyer had just enough to take the checkered flag, though not enough to complete the race-winning celebration.
“I want to do a burnout,” Bowyer complained in Victory Lane. “Am I ever going to get to do a burnout?”
But the lamenting was mostly in jest as he was elated with his first win ever at Charlotte. He beat Denny Hamlin to the finish line by less than a half a second. Jimmie Johnson, who was also conserving fuel, ended up third in the race.
It was a rough night for the Chase points leader. Brad Keselowski led the race for the most laps, but ran out of fuel on Lap 58 before getting back to the pits and, then, stalled his car as he left the pit box. By the time Keselowski got back up to race speed, he was sitting 13th. He ended up just out of the Top 10, in 11.
Johnson’s third-place finish cut Keselowski’s 14-point lead going into the race in half and is now just seven points off the pace, in second place. Hamlin also made up ground on the leader, but remains third in the Chasestandings.
It’s five races down and five to go in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Next up on the schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, in Kansas City, on Oct. 21.