Clint Bowyer led 120 laps Saturday night and was in control late at Bristol before getting snookered by a Stewart-Haas Racing teammate on a restart.
Kurt Busch passed Bowyer on the Lap 478 restart. At the moment, Bowyer and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz were not happy with how they saw Busch race them, making door-to-door contact.
“Payback’s a b****,” Bowyer’s spotter, Brett Griffin, told the driver going into the race’s final restart on lap 488.
But Bowyer couldn’t mount a challenge restarting on the bottom lane and slid back to finish sixth.
“I just clearly didn’t do a good job on the restarts,” Bowyer said. “When I had the lead, I thought I got a good jump, and about the time I shifted Kurt hit me in the door, and it just lit the tires up. He didn’t do anything wrong; it’s just a product of it. I don’t know.
“Then when I was on the bottom, I spun the tires real bad, and they all got around me. It’s disappointing. You get a car that good and you get that close you hate to not come home with it, but, all in all, for as terrible as we started the weekend and as bad as our yesterday was, to lead laps or even be in the top 10 I was pretty surprised, to be honest with you. In the grand scheme of things, it was a pretty good run for us, but you hate to give them up like that.”
Bowyer’s bad Friday saw him 23rd and 27th on the practice charts, and then 16th in qualifying. Saturday night, in addition to his laps led, Bowyer earned stage points in both stages.