Clint Bowyer recovered from two speeding penalties for a top-10 finish at Martinsville, but was still frustrated afterward.
Busted on Lap 314 and again on Lap 374, Bowyer fell to the tail of the field. Fortunately, he never fell off the lead lap, but his No. 14 went from looking like a potential contender to playing catch-up.
“I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed,” Bowyer said after finishing seventh. “It’s such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything. We push it to the limit, but it’s so hard to practice pit road speed.
“You’ve got trucks on pit road when you’re trying to practice (early in the weekend). I’m not making any excuses; it’s just that when you’re trying to pinch every little thing out of it .. it was hard this week to practice pit road speed because of all the stuff on pit road.”
Bowyer and his Stewart-Haas team were naturally frustrated, wondering over the radio “what the hell could have changed” from early in the day when he was legal on pit road to being over the limit.
After receiving his second penalty, Bowyer radioed he felt he couldn’t have been speeding but was told he’d been faster than the first time he was called for the infraction.
“It’s obviously on us,” he said. “We just weren’t on the same page. It’s frustrating.”
Starting 10th, Bowyer moved quickly toward the front of the pack early in the first stage. As the field started to get strung out and the leaders began threading through traffic, Bowyer found himself in clean air and was told he was quicker than those around him. Spotter Brett Griffin even radioed confidence about being able to grab the lead before the end of the first stage. Bowyer, though, wound up sixth and was eighth in Stage 2.
Asked if he had a winning race car, Bowyer said, “I don’t think anybody had anything for the 2 (Brad Keselowski) or the 9 (Chase Elliott). [We] made some adjustments early and [the car] was really fast. I think we were a top-three car for sure, but we kept beating ourselves.”