It has been a frustrating season for Clint Bowyer and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team. His best finish this season was second at Texas in March. Since then, Bowyer has had up and down results.
It seems as though when Bowyer would finish in the top five or top 10 in one race, he would wind up the 20s or 30s in the next race. He’s finished seventh at Bristol, third at Richmond, 29th at Talladega, ninth at Dover and fifth Kansas, while finishing 24th at Charlotte, fifth again at Pocono, 35th at Michigan, 11th at Sonoma, 37th at Chicago and 34th at Daytona prior to Kentucky.
After the stretch of bad luck, Bowyer and his team were hoping to leave Kentucky Speedway with a decent finish, at least a top-10, and if the opportunity presented itself, a win. He came close to doing just that.
On Friday afternoon, he qualified in the seventh position giving him good track position at a track where you need it if you want to have a shot at the win.
As the race started, Bowyer had a decent car throughout the night. He ran as low as 34th, obviously after green flag pit stops. He finished 18th in Stage 1 but earned a fifth-place finish in Stage 2.
When Stage 3 began, Bowyer was out front leading the race with former teammate Kurt Busch. He led from Lap 164 to Lap 201 for 38 laps. It would be the only time Bowyer was out front, as he would settle for a sixth-place finish.
At the end of it all, Bowyer was pleased with the effort and the speed of his No. 14 team.
“It was really crazy,” Bowyer told PRN in his post-race interview. “You look at that and think, could’ve, would’ve, should’ve with a fifth place run right there. However, with the month of June we had, where you go for it in that situation and get wrecked out, we can’t afford any of those. We gave up a position there. Again, you’re frustrated with that, but a good momentum boost for our team, a positive night for us.”
“Made some good calls on the box, Mike (Bugarewicz, Crew Chief) gave us some good track position. Our cars are really fast out front. Our Stewart-Haas cars have shown great speed, we have to work on race trim in traffic, things like that. We have some good tracks coming up for us, have a little positive mojo back for a change. Hell, I’ll take it.”
It was Bowyer’s ninth top-10 finish of the season and he currently sits 14th in the playoff standings. He will need more consistent finishes like those and possibly a win if he wants to compete for a championship later this season.