If Clint Bowyer could get a redo of Saturday night's race at Richmond, he'd start over all the way back to before the green flag even flew.
Bowyer ultimately finished last Saturday after a fire in the right-front tire area of his car, but his issues began in turn one on the first lap.
He started third and had a run on polesitter Kyle Larson into turn one. Since he had an opening on the bottom lane and momentum, Bowyer went for the lead. However, Larson came back down to the bottom of the corner and the two made contact, spinning Larson's car around.
“I really hate that happened," Bowyer said. "I really like Kyle (Larson) and I’m a big fan of his. Him and (Brad Keselowski) kind of spun the tires and I just got such a big run him when he moved up. Then I was like, ‘Okay, I guess I’m going to go to the bottom if you’re going to give me the bottom.’ Then at the last minute he arched it in and I just wasn’t ready for him. I tried to get on the brakes and just got into him. I’m so glad he didn’t hit the wall. I was afraid he hit the wall and ended his night. It certainly didn’t help it at all.”
When the race went back green, Bowyer's car didn't have much long-run speed. He faded back and was forced to pit for a tire issue. Not long after that, the caution came out and Bowyer was caught a lap down.
Then, while pitting for another tire issue, there was a small fire under the right front of Bowyer's car. As he exited the pits, the fire didn't extinguish itself. Instead, it intensified. Bowyer's car, and his night, was cooked.
Mechanical and pit road issues have been a theme for Bowyer this season. While teammate Brian Vickers has found consistency in 2014, Bowyer hasn't. He's now 21st in the standings after qualifying for the Chase and finishing second and seventh in the past two seasons.
There's plenty of time for Bowyer's season to turn around, and a win in the new Sprint Cup win-and-you're-in Chase format would go a long way to doing so.
Right now, his team doesn't look like it's close to winning. Though Talladega, the roulette wheel of NASCAR tracks, is up next. And Bowyer's been pretty good there.
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