A year ago, Clint Bowyer was on top of the world in the spring Martinsville race. After a snow out forced that race to Monday, Bowyer snapped a 190-race winless streak.
The 39-year-old could have collected his second grandfather clock in Sunday’s STP 500, but instead was in survival mode after two pit road speeding penalties.
After being a top-10 contender all race, Bowyer was first clocked for speeding during a pit stop under caution at lap 314.
This sent Bowyer to the tail end of the longest line.
As Bowyer fumed, he attempted to climb out of the hole.
50 laps after his first speeding penalty, Bowyer was busted again. Luckily for the Kansas native both penalties came under yellow, so he never lost laps as a result.
According to Bowyer, obstacles on pit road during practice made honing his pit road speed quite difficult.
“I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed. It’s such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything, Bowyer explained. “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 that. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just 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.”
Over the final 126 laps of the race, Bowyer kept his head down and dug deep. When the checkered flag was displayed, he had miraculously worked back into the seventh position.
In the end, Bowyer was quite frustrated because he knows he had a great car.
“I don’t think anybody obviously had anything for [Brad Keselowski] or [Chase Elliott, who] made some adjustments there early and was really fast,” Bowyer said. “I think we were a top three car for sure, but we kept beating ourselves.”
In Fontana it was a blown motor that doomed Bowyer. For Martinsville, it was pit road snafus. Can he and the No. 14 team finally put together a drama-free race next week in Texas?