Clint Bowyer called it “horribly disappointing” to finish seventh Sunday afternoon at Bristol.
“We had a good car,” he said. “You get that close. Long runs were my strong suit [but] I couldn’t take off all day long. We were down a little bit on air [pressure], and it took a little bit of time for [the tires] to come in. The problem is when you balance around that, and you just pump the air pressure up, that doesn’t work either, and you don’t handle. It’s just disappointing.”
Running inside the top five and battling with Joey Logano just past the Lap 430 mark, Bowyer’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Ford was damaged when he and Logano made contact. Underneath Logano’s No. 22 coming off Turn 4, Bowyer’s right front rubbed Logano’s left rear. Already showing damage, Bowyer then slid into Turn 1 and hit the wall.
Chalking it up to a racing deal, it was a significant enough incident to hinder the rest of his day. Bowyer’s was one of the strongest cars, especially late into runs after struggling to launch on restarts. While he didn’t lead a lap in the Food City 500, he challenged the Team Penske Fords throughout.
“[Joey] was racing me pretty hard; I could get under him [but] he would diamond it and that didn’t leave me much room. It’s time to race; there’s no question about it.
Of the contact, Bowyer said, “We just barely touched and it must have cut the valve stem out of it or something — must have hit it just right.
“We put ourselves in a good position. Our Stewart-Haas, Haas Automation Ford, was good. I wanted to get that thing into victory lane. It’s such a good-looking car — I think it’s racy looking. I appreciate Gene and the opportunity; I just didn’t get it done.”
Not only did Bowyer keep pace with the Penske cars (which led 344 of 500 laps at Bristol and have three wins this year), but he was also highest-finishing of the SHR bunch. The organization is still searching for its first win of the season, and Bowyer admits there is still plenty to do to catch the competition.
“We know that,” said Bowyer. “This is a different beast — a different short track is a different beast. Early on, those Penske cars have more speed — you see that on restarts and stuff like that. My strong suit, just like last week [in Texas], was long runs. We just slowly kept picking away at them.
“I couldn’t take off worth a damn, but I could really come on strong on the end of a big run.”