Season Review: Clint Bowyer
By: John Singler - @JohnSingler2 on November 30, 2013 | 8:00 A.M. EST
This past season might not be one Clint Bowyer wants to recall after failing to win a race and facing questions about his spin at Richmond. (Photo: Getty Images)
In 2013, Clint Bowyer drove thousands of miles in dozens of races, and chased championship points from “The World Center of Racing” in February to South Beach in November.
But his season will be remembered most for one lap … in one race … on one night – in early September at Richmond International Raceway.
With less than 10 laps remaining in the regular season, Bowyer spun in Turn 4 and slid into the frontstretch, producing a caution that proved to be pivotal for a number of drivers. In the days that followed, after reviewing related events in the closing laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400, NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the outcome of the race in an effort to assist Martin Truex Jr. in securing a Chase berth.
It led to penalties, fines and an unprecedented shuffling of the Chase that resulted in Truex being dismissed from the lineup.
Bowyer managed the fallout as best he could. He retained his spot in the 10-race title run and ended the year seventh in points – a year after finishing second to Brad Keselowski.
“I’m very proud of where we’re at considering all the circumstances” Bowyer said of his team’s frame of mind entering the closing weeks of the season, after the Richmond events. “With all the distractions, it seems like it would have been very easy to take your eye off the ball and lose focus.”
The season began with much promise for the eight-year veteran. Bowyer rallied from sub-par performances at Las Vegas and Auto Club Speedway with a second-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in April. Top fives at Kansas Speedway and in the year’s first stop in Richmond lifted Bowyer into fifth place in points.
Though victory continued to elude him, a key stretch of races from Charlotte in May through Michigan in August helped lift Bowyer to second place in the regular-season standings – behind only Jimmie Johnson.
Bowyer’s average finish was ninth in that 12-race period that left him well-positioned for another strong Chase run. But the final two weeks of the regular season proved to be troublesome.
Engine failure in Atlanta on Labor Day Weekend saddled Bowyer with a 39th-place finish. Then came Richmond, where his late spin left him 25th in the final running order with the No. 8 seed in the Chase.
With Bowyer’s insistence that his team did not lose focus in the early weeks of the Chase, victory remained elusive. His best finish in the 10 Chase races was third at Martinsville Speedway.
“It was certainly a good shot in the arm for us,” said Bowyer, who finished behind Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. “But we needed to win a race desperately.”
Bowyer closed the year with a pair of top-10s over the last three races, at Texas and Homestead-Miami Speedway, but no wins.
“I’m very proud of the season we’ve had,” Bowyer said. “We were consistent week in and week out, ran up front and were second in points much of the second half. But we certainly missed that win column.”
Bowyer’s final stat line shows 19 top-10 finishes in 36 starts, including the two early-season runner-up efforts at Martinsville and Richmond. He went without a victory for the first time in four seasons.
Though he didn’t win a pole, Bowyer did start on the front row twice – at Las Vegas and Watkins Glen International; posting finishes of 27th and 6th, respectively.
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas with a look at the sixth-place finisher, Jeff Gordon, on Sunday, Dec. 1. MRN will broadcast the Awards on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.