After battling with the rain all weekend long and a delayed start to the race, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series was able to get in the race this weekend at Michigan for the Fire Keepers Casino 400. The drivers were racing to the conclusion of stage two all afternoon, the point where it could officially be called and scored in the record books, and Clint Bowyer was able to outlast SHR teammate Kevin Harvick to secure his second win of the 2018 season.
Crew Chief Mike Bugarewicz made the call for two tires on the stop following the conclusion of stage two that put that No. 14 out in front to start the final stretch run to the finish. Bowyer was able to hold off the charging No. 4 on the restart with some great racing, stealing the win from his teammate who had dominated most of the race, and when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun and brought out the caution on lap 129, the rain picked up again and the race was called. There was no way to get the race back going tonight, so NASCAR made the right call and Mr. Bowyer burned ’em down in the pouring rain then celebrated back in the garage with some Busch Beer.
“It took something crazy on a restart to be able to get Kevin. That was a gutsy call. When we went out there on two tires, I looked in the mirror and I was so far ahead of everybody else (coming off pit road), I was like, “Oh man, we are in trouble,” Bowyer sad in his victory lane interview.
Bowyer did a heck of a job holding his teammate behind him, Harvick who had the better, car might have reacted differently to some of the moves if it wasn’t his teammate, but figured he would soon get passed him. Unfortunately for the driver of the Jimmy Johns Ford, the rain broke Bowyer’s way and the race was called. He took home second place and acknowledged the 14 team made a heck of a gamble and it worked out and if he had to be on this side of the racing luck at least it was a teammate stealing the win.
Bowyer has now scored his second win of 2018 to go with Martinsville, and where you think of where this guy has gone in recent years, grinding it out for top-25 finishes in lesser programs to winning races driving the No. 14 having replaced the great Tony Stewart, it’s easy to see why this guy shows so much raw emotion with each win, and really every time he’s at the track. Bowyer is truly blessed with this opportunity to run in the best equipment and compete dong what he loves, and it’s easy to root for the beer drinking, funny guy from Kansas.
Bowyer is a fun, energetic driver that brings all sorts of life with him through every interview and he’s great for the sport. The emotion is pure and raw, as are the celebrations. With the bye week for Father’s Day upcoming, I wouldn’t be surprised if he celebrates all the way through until cars are back on the track at Sonoma. He’s now scored two wins this season, rain-shortened or not, and is a threat come the playoffs to sneak into the Championship 4 at Homestead. The speed from the Stewart-Haas Fords as well as his short-track ability at Martinsville (Round of 8) could punch his ticket to Miami. Just keep that in the back of your minds.
Bowyer, Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top three as the trio of teammates ran up front from start to finish to epitomize the great day for Ford in their own back yard as 7 of the 8 top finishers ran a blue oval. Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-10 at Michigan. Kyle Larson could not make it four straight at the Irish Hills as a late spin in stage two caused him to lose a lap and come away 28th.
Whether you’re a fan of him or not, everyone loves to root for Clint Bowyer and see his reaction to winning a race. It’s priceless.