Clint Bowyer rides to sweep of stage wins in Darlington midweek race


Clint Bowyer swept the stages Wednesday night at Darlington Raceway, using the skills of his adept pit crew to re-take the lead late in Stage 2 and hold on for his second green-and-white checkered flag of the evening.

Bowyer led from Lap 31 to 83 but Stage 2, at times, appeared headed to a win by teammate Kevin Harvick or Martin Truex Jr., who each led double-digit laps in the stage prior to Bowyer.

After Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Cole Custer spun in Turn 2 to bring out the stage’s final caution on Lap 107, Bowyer’s crew worked feverishly to put him in position on the restart and he was able to hold on.

Chase Elliott, Truex Jr., Erik Jones and Sunday’s winner in Harvick rounded out the top five.

RELATED: Stage 2 results

Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 took heavy damage midway through the stage, getting his Ford into the outside wall and needed to come to pit road for repairs. He was 33rd at stage end.

Chris Buescher spun after contact with the No. 34 of Michael McDowell on Lap 72 to bring out the caution. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also spun in the stage to bring out another caution.

Pole-starter Ryan Preece saw his engine expire early in the stage, exiting the race and finishing 39th.

Finish Driver Team Points
1 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing 10
2 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 9
3 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 8
4 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing 7
5 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 6
6 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 5
7 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 4
8 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 3
9 Joey Logano Team Penske 2
10 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing 1

Stage 1 recap:

Clint Bowyer took command after a competition caution and rode to the Stage 1 win in Wednesday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway.

Bubba Wallace briefly held the lead after staying out during the competition caution but was quickly overtaken by Bowyer, whose No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford looked particularly sporty under the lights at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” Bowyer’s 30 laps led were most in the stage, followed by Joey Logano’s 19 and outside pole-starter Ty Dillon’s eight.

Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman and Logano rounded out the top five. Sunday’s winner at Darlington, Kevin Harvick, placed 15th in the stage while running the same car he took to Victory Lane three days ago.

RELATED: Stage 1 results

Following a delay after the track required drying from earlier rain, the green flag was thrown just after 8 p.m. ET. Not long after, John Hunter Nemechek brought out the race’s first caution on Lap 4 after getting into the wall. The Front Row Motorsports driver brought it back out not long after on Lap 12, once again spinning. The only other caution of the stage was the planned competition caution on Lap 25.

During the competition caution, Aric Almirola’s No. 10 crew was initially hit with a penalty for an uncontrolled tired, but it was rescinded after it was determined Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car knocked it loose from the carrier’s hand.

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch finished 24th in Stage 1.

Wednesday’s race, the Toyota 500, marked the second race back for NASCAR since the COVID-19 stoppage that occurred in March. The race is the sixth of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Finish Driver Team Points
1 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing 10
2 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 9
3 Ryan Blaney Team Penske 8
4 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 7
5 Joey Logano Team Penske 6
6 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 5
7 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 4
8 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 3
9 Matt Kenseth Chip Ganassi Racing 2
10 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing 1