BROOKLYN, Mich. – Raise your hand if you had Clint Bowyer winning a race in 2018. Now raise your hand if you predicted Bowyer would win twice this year. Who’s hand is in the air that predicted Bowyer would be in Victory Lane two times this season before Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson combined?
That’s what I thought.
Even the most fervent Bowyer fan could have predicted their favorite driver would have a pair of wins before the 4th of July holiday. But after a gutsy call from crew chief Mike Bugarewicz for two tires and track position, Bowyer was able to parlay the gamble along with an assist from Mother Nature to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
It was a race that was hard to grasp any kind of rhythm of feel because of the drippy weather that engulfed the track pretty much all day first causing a nearly three hour delay and then threatening throughout the afternoon.
But Bowyer had a fast car throughout and battled for the lead before the fateful strategy call on pit road late paid dividends after a combination of more wet weather and impending darkness finally ended the proceedings.
“We’re going to drink a little bit tonight,” Bowyer said making one of the most obvious statements of the season. A season where he’s already backed up that proclamation twice.
- Ford is having a season that is reaching near record proportions. A podium sweep by Stewart-Haas Racing on Sunday, the first for the organization and first in more than a decade by any one team, was the latest example of just how far ahead of the field the Blue Oval brigade is at this point of the campaign. Eight of the 15 wins this season, including the All-Star Race as well have gone to Fords. The next race at Sonoma in two weeks might be a little more wide open but when Daytona and Kentucky roll around based on what Ford has done on both superspeedways and intermediate tracks, respectively, there’s no reason this trend is going to stop anytime soon.
- Those quibbling with NASCAR’s decisions to end both Saturday’s Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race early because of weather are, well literally all wet. The sanctioning body was more than patient both days with drying procedures doing everything in its power to get races in and to their conclusion for the fans in the stands as well as those listening on radio and watching on television. When weather finally won out in both cases there was literally nothing NASCAR could have done given the two hour estimated drying process of the track and the available sunlight. It wasn’t a great situation by any means but given the circumstances give NASCAR props for working diligently enough to get both races in the books as official.
- The jury is still out on the aerodynamic rules package used in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. While there were times the pack racing many hoped would develop did materialize, other stretches of the race featured a great deal of single file racing. Intensity did build as the race neared its shortened conclusion, which is usually the case when there is the threat of rain in the area, but overall it is still difficult to gauge the true impact of the changes. NASCAR will no doubt be downloading and pouring over a great deal of data over the next several days but the “eyeball test” Saturday didn’t give a definitive answer.
- Not to be forgotten over the Michigan racing weekend was Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway won by Johnny Sauter, who scored his fourth win of the season. The veteran driver is enjoying one of the best seasons in his career but Friday’s win was no cakewalk as Sauter had to outrace Stewart Friesen in a green-white-checkered dash to the finish line. Friesen also continues to impress and it appears his first career NCWTS victory is not too far away, giving big block dirt modified fans around the country reason to rejoice.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.