News & Media


Cup Preview: Bowyer comes into Richmond on quite a roll

April 29, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Back-to-back second-place finishes have Bowyer up to 10th in points

Clint Bowyer will start Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX) as arguably one of the hottest drivers in the series. He would like to leave the three-quarter-mile oval late Saturday night as the undisputed hottest driver in the series.

History and the man himself make it sound as though that could happen.

"I think the cream is going to rise to the top, no different than it ever has. It's still early in the season, but it feels good to be able to get on a little bit of a roll here, and hopefully we can continue to ride that wave."

--CLINT BOWYER

"Richmond is a neat track," Bowyer said. "I've won there in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. That track has always been good to me, and we always seem to run well there. I'm looking forward to going back there."

Bowyer will take the green flag in the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 looking for his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. Two of those top-10s are second-place finishes in his past two races, at Texas and Talladega.

The past month has enabled Bowyer to shake free of his early-season frustrations: He was 24th in points after the first four races, which culminated with an engine failure with 44 laps to go at Bristol that resulted in a DNF and 35th-place finish.

"I mean, I'm very proud of our race team to get things turned around," said Bowyer, who began 2011 with high expectations after winning two of the 10 Chase races in 2010. "The first four races were just terrible, and we dug in deep and got things turned around and had a decent run at Martinsville and just kind of continued to build on that and get that ball rolling, get the monkey off your back, and the last two races we finished second."

Bowyer's four top-10s in a row ties his second-longest streak -- he had seven in a row in 2008, and it ended, coincidentally, at Richmond with Bowyer's second Cup victory. His average finish of 9.8 at the track is bettered only by Kyle Busch (5.3) and Denny Hamlin (8.0) among active drivers.

Like many drivers, Bowyer lists Richmond as one of his favorites.

"I think Richmond is the perfect-sized race track," he said. "As a fan of this sport, you get to see everything. You get the sensation of speed. You get to see all of us beating and banging on each other on the track. It's just a perfect-sized race track. I wish we had about three or four more of them on the schedule.

"These double-file restarts really make entering Turn 1 pretty wild. It's three or four wide, and if someone doesn't give, they're going to wreck at least one car or several of them. That's what's neat about it; you can make a pass, get under someone and they're going to drive down hard on the outside of you. They might get you loose or you might lock up your brakes and get into them. You just have to be careful on those restarts, especially, with these double-files."

A victory on Saturday would send Bowyer into the month of May as Cup's hottest driver and put him good standing to make the Chase for the fourth time.

Who's Hot / Who's Not

Hot
• Jimmie Johnson has finished 11th or better in his past five Cup starts.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished 12th or better in the past seven races.
• Kyle Busch is the only driver to score top-five finishes in the first two short-track races (Bristol and Martinsville). At Richmond, he has four consecutive top-fives.
• Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Juan Montoya finished in the top 10 in both Richmond races last season.
• Jeff Gordon has finished 12th or better in the past eight Richmond races with seven of those top-10s.
• Kasey Kahne has finished 39th, 21st and 37th in his past three Cup starts.
• Tony Stewart has finished 12th or worse in the past five Cup races.
• Greg Biffle has not finished in the top 10 at Richmond in his past eight starts.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished 21st or worse in the past four races at Richmond.
• Matt Kenseth hasn't finished in the top 10 in the past seven Richmond races.

"I think the cream is going to rise to the top, no different than it ever has," Bowyer said. "It's still early in the season, but it feels good to be able to get on a little bit of a roll here, and hopefully we can continue to ride that wave."