News & Media

Bowyer's best just not good enough

November 05, 2012, Mark Aumann,

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Clint Bowyer is running out of races.

Bowyer needed one or both of the points leaders to have a bad day Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. But Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski finished 1-2, leaving Bowyer's already fading championship chances hanging by a hope and a prayer.

"It's just unbelievable," Bowyer said. "You keep having these top-10 runs and flirting with the top-fives week-in and week-out, and unless you're winning these races every week, you just can't gain points.

"You keep having these top-10 runs and flirting with the top-fives week-in and week-out, and unless you're winning these races every week, you just can't gain points."


"Even if we were winning right now, it ain't enough to run them down for a championship."

Bowyer did everything he could. He was in position all race to take advantage of any slip-ups that might befall Johnson or Keselowski, except neither slipped. Bowyer finished a more than respectable sixth, but now trails Johnson by 36 points and Keselowski by 29.

He's not close to being mathematically eliminated, but realistically, Bowyer's chances aren't good -- and he coming to grips with it, based on his post-race comments.

"I've said this all along -- it's fun to be racing for the championship," Bowyer said. "But I'm more proud of where we're at contending for that championship, winning three races our first year together as a group.

"We'll just keep polishing the edges and keep getting better fixing our program week-in and week-out. We'll be there."

Bowyer was just a tick slower than Johnson and Keselowski all weekend -- and nothing changed in that respect Sunday. Bowyer ran consistently in the top five for much of the day, but he just couldn't find the speed necessary to run down his competition.

From his car, Bowyer could see where Johnson and Keselowski had the advantage. But no matter what changes crew chief Brian Pattie made, it didn't seem to make Bowyer's No. 15 Toyota any faster.

"Right across the center [of the corner], it seemed like they could get to the throttle and keep it down a little bit better, a little earlier and a little bit harder than I could," Bowyer said. "They kept trying to free it up and kept trying to fix that problem. Every time we would, we'd get loose in and it would kind of snap off and carry loose off."

Still, Bowyer was right in the thick of things until he got pinned leaving the pits on his final stop and gave up several positions.

"Man, we tried," Bowyer said. "We kept losing track position and it's really hard to make it up. We got behind there at the end. It was a solid night, but just frustrating. I thought we were going to be better than that."

Knowing he wasn't going to outrun his foes, Bowyer's best hope might have been to out-fox them on fuel strategy. Until Marcos Ambrose hit the wall on Lap 310, that was still in play.

Unfortunately for Bowyer, the caution he really didn't want to see allowed all of the leaders to top off and took fuel out of the equation.

"We were close, but no cigar," Bowyer said. "That's what we were all about tonight. The one thing that could have won us the race just didn't play out with the cautions.

"I really felt like we were doing a good job with our fuel mileage thing. I thought we were sitting pretty good there until that caution came out."

All in all, it's pretty difficult to complain about the run Bowyer's had in 2012, particularly in the Chase. And he tried to put things in perspective after he climbed from the car, the smile never leaving his face.

Even in the closing laps, Bowyer believed Johnson and Keselowski were capable of doing something to let him back in the title hunt. But it wasn't meant to be.

"We're having fun," Bowyer said. "We're just taking it week by week. I thought they were going to wreck each other, but they didn't.

"It would have been awesome -- I really did think they were going to wreck each other."