PULASKI COUNTY, Va. — Entering Thursday night’s (July 27) Camping World SRX Series race, it had been 1,873 days since Clint Bowyer last won in a stock car — and he almost ended that drought.
Bowyer came on late at Pulaski County Motorsports Park (formerly Motor Mile Speedway) to work his way up to second but couldn’t get around race-winner Kyle Busch.
“Shit, that’s a Cup champion that won,” Bowyer told Frontstretch. “I’ll take it. He’s been racing every week. I ain’t raced in three years.”
Bowyer won at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2018, for the 10th and final win of his NASCAR Cup Series career. He went winless the last two years of his Cup career before spending the next three years in the TV booth as a FOX color commentator. Until the SRX opener at Stafford Motor Speedway two weeks ago, Bowyer had not raced anything competitively since his Cup days ended.
But Bowyer hasn’t missed a beat. He had a strong showing at Stafford, finishing third, before his runner-up outing in Pulaski. That gives him an average finish of 2.5 in his two SRX outings.
The Pulaski result was much more harder fought, as Bowyer had to work his way up from a 10th-place starting spot in the main event. That was due to the Emporia, Kansas, native finishing dead last in the first heat. He came creeping across the finish line long after the rest of the field had finished the heat.
“Blew a fuse, man,” Bowyer said. “Just part of it. I didn’t even know they had fuses, but that’s what happened.
“It felt like I was good too. It was too bad because I passed several cars and kind of positioned myself where I thought I was going to be in a pretty good spot going into the second one [heat]. It just didn’t work out.”
The field invert put Bowyer on the pole for heat 2, though, and he took full advantage of it. He held off a tough battle from SRX points leader Ryan Newman to win that heat.
Still, it wasn’t enough to overcome the poor result in the first heat, so Bowyer had to come from the back in the main event. And that he did.
Using a distinct line from everyone else, Bowyer worked his way up through the field.
“Those guys were running the bottom, and I’m still lower than them,” Bowyer said.
Bowyer was using the apron. He was the only car doing it, and it was working.
“I talked to guys, I told them, ‘Man, I found some grip down there on the bottom,'” Bowyer said. “I felt like my car was tight, and if I used that apron, it kind of freed my car up and I could turn.”
The No. 07 car appeared to be reeling in Busch for the lead when the caution flag flew. In a series of late restarts, Bowyer never again had anything for Busch. It would take him several laps to even clear third-place finisher Tony Stewart.
“I needed it to stay green,” Bowyer said. “I think I was better than him on the long run. I was just trying to stay off of Tony [Stewart], be respectful to him. He was on the outside. That’s hard to do.”
Bowyer described how having a car on his outside, like he had with Stewart in the final restarts, neutralized his apron-riding he had been making time on the field with.
“I couldn’t do it [run the apron] with a car on the outside of me — that’s what took so long with Tony — because it forced you to get on the apron too quick,” Bowyer said. “If I could arch it in and hook the apron, boy, I could really let it roll through the middle and carry some speed, kind of like Martinsville.
“… Just ran out of time, but that was fun.”
Bowyer only has one more SRX start scheduled for this season: the season finale at Lucas Oil Speedway.
About the author
Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.
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