Race Weekend Central

Clint Bowyer Returns to Dirt, Hail Mary Comes Up Short

WHEATLAND, Mo. — Jonathan Davenport may have led every lap of the main event of the Camping World SRX Series finale at Lucas Oil Speedway, but there was a brief moment where Clint Bowyer had the lead.

On the restart with 10 laps to go on Thursday night (Aug. 17), Bowyer restarted on the inside of Davenport on the front row. The Emporia, Kansas, native drove his No. 07 into turn 1 deeper than he had all night to do a slide job. He almost cleared Davenport, but the two made contact and Davenport did a crossover to get back by Bowyer.

Bowyer threw one more slider on Davenport, but this time, the loss of momentum allowed Davenport and others to get by him. Bowyer had to settled for fifth on the night.

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“I wasn’t gonna follow him [Davenport] the whole damn race,” Bowyer told Frontstretch. We were obviously both really good. Every time, on a long run, I knew we were driving away from the field.

“… I knew it’d get down to the end and it’d be a caution and I’d have to pick that. I mean, again, you’re not going to follow him the whole damn race. You got to try something. You got to try to win. I tried. It just didn’t work.”

The race marked a return to dirt for Bowyer, and it came fairly close to home. Bowyer grew up racing on dirt, frequenting many track just a few hours away from Wheatland, Missouri, where Lucas Oil Speedway is located.

“It’s right here in our own backyard,” Bowyer said. “I got a lot of family and friends at the lake, and they’re all here. So I’m glad I didn’t quite embarrass us. I tried but not quite.”

Bowyer noted that the last time he had raced on dirt prior to Thursday was in the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway. The last one of those he competed in was in 2012. He won the event in 2011.

“I forgot how much I missed dirt racing,” Bowyer said.

Bowyer showed his speed from the drop of the green flag. He started heat 1 in 11th and climbed all the way to third by the end of it. The invert put Bowyer back to 10th, and he finished heat 2 in second.

For almost the entirety of the main event, Bowyer rode just behind Davenport in second. Early on, Davenport built up a decent gap on the No. 07. But in later runs, Bowyer stayed right on the No. 49 and looked inside on him a few times.

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On a restart with 19 laps to go, Marco Andretti got to Bowyer’s inside for second and used him up exiting turn 2. The move knocked Bowyer briefly back to sixth before he came roaring back on the outside to reclaim third.

It took Bowyer two laps to track Andretti back down, give him the bumper and take back second place.

“Marco got into me pretty good and knocked the front end out of it,” Bowyer said. “If you can tell, that kind of heated the old wick up a little bit.”

Then the restart with 10 laps to go came, and Bowyer’s monster slide job couldn’t keep him ahead of race winner Davenport.

“I thought he [Bowyer] might try something, but I thought I got a good enough run down the straightaway that he wasn’t gonna be able to get there,” Davenport told Frontstretch. ” … I really had no clue he was coming across, but I was already back in the gas, turning down.

“I hit him right square in the tail, so I got him squirrelly, got another run on him. Then he slid me back again down here in [turns] 3 and 4. I’m sure the fans loved it, and it was definitely fun from where I was sitting.”

Bowyer was happy just to have had a shot at Davenport.

“Honestly, he [Davenport] should’ve won by a mile,” Bowyer said. “That’s just the facts.”

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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