By admin | September 20, 2008
By Richard Allen
Last year, Clint Bowyer got off to the best start possible in the Chase for the Championship. He won the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Besides winning the race he also led the most laps which gave the Emporia, Kansas driver maximum points.
In the land rush that would eventually be put on the entire Chase field by Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, no one was able to keep pace over the ten race playoff. However, the good start Bowyer got himself off to allowed him to be the driver to hold onto the HMS tandem the longest.
Of all the drivers to qualify for the 2007 Chase, Bowyer would have been considered by most to be the least likely to contend for a title, but he proved to be serious a threat. That early win within the Chase no doubt gave the then second year driver the confidence he needed to know that he belonged.
This year, Bowyer hoped to get off to the same type start he had had in 2007. And, early last weekend it looked very much like he would. He had the fastest car in the practice sessions leading up to the Sylvania 300. Many other drivers and crew members pointed to the #07 car as the one to beat at NHMS.
However, when the green flag dropped Bowyer was never able to find the magic he had in last year’s event.
After starting 5th due to qualifying being rained out, Bowyer was never able to make his way to the front of the field. He did not lead a single lap on his way to a somewhat disappointing 12th place finish.
Perhaps more importantly, he was beaten by eight other Chasers. For the drivers who have either no wins or one win, and Bowyer has one win, it is vital to run well every week and beat as many other Chasers as possible. Last year, that is exactly what he did. Not so this year.
Clint Bowyer will start 6th in the Camping World RV 400 at Dover on Sunday. He finished 12th in this race last year. He will probably need a better result this time.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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