Consistency Paying Off For Bowyer

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Many NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers can only dream of having the kind of season Clint Bowyer's been having in 2007.

In just his second full-time year in the series, the young Richard Childress Racing driver qualified for the Chase with a steady pace of consistent finishes, and is now one of the few still contesting for the championship with five races remaining. Because he came into the post season with zero victories, Bowyer started last but is now in third place in the standings, 78 points behind leader Jeff Gordon.

"We won a race, we're running for a championship; it's been an awesome year so far," Bowyer said following last week's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where he finished second. "It's very gratifying. You know, only our second year together, we're running up front and doing what we're paid to do."

Consistency has been the key to Bowyer's 2007 Cinderella story. He has an average finish of 13.3 in 31 starts and has completed 98.6% of all laps run thus far.

His standing in the points is no fluke either, as the No. 07 team's consistency has been most apparent in the off season. To open up the Chase, the Kansas native made his mark by capturing his career-first NEXTEL Cup victory. Since then, he's posted two second-place finishes and two finishes just outside the top 10.

"He's incredible," points leader Gordon said of the sophomore driver. "To me, when you're going to measure a driver's talent and abilities and what they are really capable of, it's about people that are consistent. And one of the things that he's been very good at this year is being consistent. Maybe he wasn't spectacular before this Chase started, but he's very consistent; zero DNF's, you've got to be impressed with that."

With so much ahead of him in his career, Bowyer's base built during his rookie season last year and added to this year is reminiscent of Gordon's early career. In his sophomore year, Gordon captured his first career win and hasn't stopped winning since. He had an average finish of 17.7 in his rookie season with seven top fives and 11 top 10s, and 15.8 the following year with seven top fives and 14 top 10s.

Bowyer posted four top fives and 11 top 10s during his rookie year, with an average finish of 19.7, and so far this season, has five top fives and 15 top 10s.

Fans will have five more races to see if Bowyer can stay strong enough to beat the veteran and put the icing on the cake this year.

But, the younger superstar will have his work cut out for him this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. In his three starts there so far, his best finish came this spring when he finished 11th. Prior to that he finished twice outside the top 20 and, as a result, has an average finish of 18.7 and driver rating of just 67.5.

Gordon, meanwhile, has won seven times at Martinsville in 29 starts and has only finished outside the top 10 six times. His driver rating is 123.8 and his average finish is 7.3.

And in the last few weeks, Gordon's been on a tear, capturing two straight victories.

"You just go to the racetrack and race as hard as you can and control what you can," Bowyer said. "It's going to take a lot of luck on our part and a lot of misfortune on (Gordon's) part. we have to keep this momentum strong and keep everybody with a pep in their step and energy. We've got to stay full-court pressed and hopefully have a little bit of luck on their run and a little misfortune on their end. You don't wish that upon anybody, but right now that's what it's going to take to win a championship."

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