The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season saw Clint Bowyer snap a 190-race winless streak dating back the 2012 season after winning two races.
“It was a long time coming for (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and all the guys on the 14 team,” Bowyer said. “To get back to their winning ways and, certainly for me as a driver who hadn’t been in victory lane in a while, it was gratifying to get in Victory Lane a couple of times this year and knock on the door a few other times.”
Bowyer, who completed his second full-time season with Stewart-Haas Racing in the No.14 Ford finished this season with 16 top 10s, nine top fives, including his two wins, and ranked 12th in the final standings.
This season, Bowyer, along with his teammates at Stewart-Haas, made the NASCAR Playoffs. However, it didn’t take much time for him long to get locked into the postseason. After a snowy weekend in Martinsville, Bowyer punched his ticket by winning the STP 500 after leading 215 laps.
Following the success early in the spring, Bowyer and his team got the job done once more during the rain-shortened race in Michigan to notch a second win. During the regular season the No. 14 found no problems running up front with the best as they had an average finish of 12.2 through 26 races.
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Once they playoffs began, things looked to be in good shape for the No. 14 after capturing two top 10s out of three in the opening round of the playoffs. Fast forward to the Round of 8 things didn’t go the way Bowyer thought they would go.
“Obviously, the playoffs haven’t really gone as smoothly as we wanted them to, haven’t gone as smoothly as our season has pretty much gone,” Bowyer said. Even though the team rolled through the first two round, in the Round of 8 things didn’t go as planned. After finishing 21st and 26th in the first two races, Bowyer was in a must win situation following Texas.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been a fifth- or sixth-place car all year long. We’ve been a fifth- or sixth-place team against the best of the best. We had some mishaps in the playoffs and things like that “
Unfortunately, his playoff run would come to a halt at ISM Raceway, after crashing out on Lap 133 after a left-rear tire went flat going into Turn 3.
“Sometimes when you go for it, things go your way and sometimes they don’t, and a drastic measure one way or the other kind of changes the picture, points-wise, quite a bit,” Bowyer said. “When you’re in the final eight, you go for broke and put all the cards on the table. A mishap at Texas really set us behind as far as the grand picture of the points were concerned, but it’s not really the situation you’re in, anyway. We were in a do-or-die situation and we went for it and came up short.”
Despite the unfortunate ending to the season, Bowyer knows the focus for 2019 in hopes of a return trip to the playoffs and to contend for the championship.
“For us we have to minimize the mistakes on our 14 car, we made a lot less than we did last year but we need to make a lot less than last year,” Bowyer said. “But we still make too many mistakes to compete for a championship and if we are going to win more races, that’s where it’s going to be. We certainly we had our peaks, but our valleys are too low.”
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