Bowyer Benefits at New Hampshire

Clint Bowyer

Bowyer led 177 laps. (Photo: Getty Images)

Clint Bowyer may have come into the Chase under the radar but he’s in full view now.

Bowyer jumped from 12th to second in the Sprint Cup Series point standings after his dramatic win Sunday when he took advantage of leader Tony Stewart running out of fuel on the final lap and went on to win the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The win ended an 88-race winless streak for Bowyer, who earned the final Chase berth last week in the regular season finale at Richmond.

He repeated the feat he pulled off in 2007 when he opened the Chase with a win at New Hampshire.

“I hate it for Tony. You hate to win races like that,” Bowyer said. “But I got here, and I felt like this race back in 2007. We did it again.”

Stewart, who pitted for fuel on lap 208, was hoping to stretch his tank 92 laps, wound up 24th in the final rundown after he ran dry on the white flag lap.

“We went down swinging,” a disappointed Stewart said. “It’s a tough way to start the Chase. I would have settled for second. If you knew exactly how much gas you have, it would be different, but you never know. It’s part of the sport, always has been. It’s what makes it exciting when you never know until the last lap who’s going to happen.”

That opened the door for Denny Hamlin, who came into New Hampshire as the series point leader, to finish second, capping a tremendous comeback that saw the Joe Gibbs Racing driver recover from an earlier race spin when he made contact with Carl Edwards.

“When we restarted 22nd, I immediately set a goal and said, ‘Let’s finish top 15,”’ Hamlin said of where he was forced to restart after the spin. “A few things happen and it was like, ‘Let’s get a top eight,’ and then, ‘Top six. Holy cow, we can win this thing.’ It was one of those days, we just made a heck of a charge at the end.”

Jamie McMurray finished third followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick.

Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top ten with Chase drivers securing half the spots in the first ten finishers.

While Hamlin was a championship favorite who was able to recover from adversity, the same didn’t can’t be said for others including Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson’s quest for an unprecedented fifth straight title got off to a bad start when he endured a day that included contact with several other cars and finally a loose wheel that forced him to pit road for repairs under green flag conditions.

That added up to a 25th place finish for Johnson.

Other Chasers who had less than stellar days in New Hampshire included Matt Kenseth, who made contact with Brad Keselowski before hitting the first turn wall. He limped home 23rd.

Other drivers in the championship Chase were Kevin Harvick (5th), Jeff Gordon (6th), Kyle Busch (9th), Carl Edwards (11th), Kurt Busch (13th), Jeff Burton (15th) and Greg Biffle (17th) .

Hamlin now has a 35 point advantage over Bowyer with one Chase race in the books.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Dover International Speedway for next Sunday’s running of the AAA 400.

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