Tag Archives: Clint Bowyer

The Time I Almost Met Tony Stewart

Unless you have been living under a rock, Tony Stewart announced this week that he will retire at the end of the next NASCAR season. Clint Bowyer will take over duties of the No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet. It was not expected but it was just the same.

I have never been a NASCAR fan who was into any one particular driver or drivers in general. I have always been into cars and the racing. That took me and my racing buddy who got me into this craziness to Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP). Racing in Indianapolis took us from watching, what was then the Busch series at IRP and the Brickyard 400 to watching the same plus the Trucks at IRP. In 2004 we stepped it up to also watch the USAC Silver Crown race at IRP on Thursday night.

If you had ever gone to the USAC Silver Crown race at IRP it was a big deal; but more importantly if you had a ticket you also had access to the track and infield prior to the race. Many NASCAR drivers who, like Tony Stewart, came up through USAC, raced in this race and were there. We took advantage of that.

We went into the infield and started walking around the inside of pit road. We saw a lot of famous NASCAR drivers and soon to be famous NASCAR drivers. This is the place to be for hardcore racing fans.

We came upon Tony Stewart and my friend says “Hey, lets go talk to Tony”. I answered back “No way! He is working on his car.” So we didn’t.

There in front of us was Stewart changing his tire on his own car. There was no one helping and no one standing by watching. That is the Tony Stewart I know; someone who, as famous as he was, just wanted to race and worked on his own car. He was alone; no public relations people, no handlers, just there to have fun and race. Though I didn’t meet him that day I will always remember that. When they say you are judged by your actions and not your words, that is totally true.

Tony Stewart, I wish you nothing but the best the rest of this year and your final year racing in NASCAR. I enjoyed watching you race and your passion for racing. I’m sure the racing fans will miss you; I know I will.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 313029 Racing Photo Archives/Getty Images

What I Hate About NASCAR

On opening day of the first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway the Michael Waltrip Racing team of Clint Bowyer was found to have beveled washers that would allow travel of the Track Bar under load; that is what I heard but it wasn’t really documented. This was caught in the initial inspections and the No. 15 team was subsequently fined and penalized by NASCAR.

The original penalty assessed included a $75,000 fine, three-race suspension and six months’ probation for Billy Scott (Crew Chief) and loss of 25 championship car owner and 25 championship driver points to both Robert Kauffman and Clint Bowyer. This more or less effectively takes that team out of the Chase.

On many occasions NASCAR has penalized a team with only a reference to some obscure rule leaving the rest of us to only wonder.

Today those fines and penalties were upheld under NASCAR’s appeal process which was expected. This is what I hate about NASCAR. I think that everyone, fans, teams, and media could learn more about the technical aspects of both the inspection process and what NASCAR intends for completion by knowing exactly what was done and why it hurts completion.

Maybe it is just the engineer in me coming out, but some pictures would be nice. A virtual demonstration on how this would help the car would be too cool. Think about it. The MWR teams thought that they were with-in the rules, so much so that they appealed. If they think they are that close shouldn’t we all be left to know and understand what they actually did and what that means for competition?

I can see NASCAR’s point of view, do they really need more Sunday morning quarterbacks? That makes sense but here I am. Here is the one thing I think that they are not thinking about. If we see it and it is explained then if other teams do something similar then they have even less to stand on for appeal. The reason being that a simple google search would show that one just doesn’t do that because guys like me will write about it.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312734 Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying is Rained Out at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series came to Chicagoland Speedway to kick off the Chase to the Sprint Cup. With the weather man predicting rain at the end of the day prior to qualifying many of the teams cut practice short to run qualifying runs. Unfortunately the weather man and the teams were correct and the rains did come.

In practice, Kevin Harvick was the class of the field in his mock qualifying run posting a time of 28.675; 62/100 faster than Joey Logano. Harvick was the only driver to get into the 188 MPH level. Since qualifying was canceled the lineup will be started according to the rule book and Kevin Harvick will lead the field to green this Sunday with Joey Logano alongside.

As expected most of the sixteen Chase Nation drivers were fast and at the front of the leaderboard. Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. will be in the second row. The other Chase drivers are as follows: Ryan Newman 6th, Kyle Busch 7th, Kurt Busch 10th, Jeff Gordon 11th, Jimmie Johnson 12th, Matt Kenseth 13th, Jamie McMurray 14th, Carl Edwards 15th and Paul Menard 17th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin had trouble during practice and will start 20th, 27th and 30th respectively. Of those three, Denny Hamlin appeared to struggle the most. When Hamlin’s crew got him ready for a mock qualifying run it did not help. He remained 30th quick. Later in the garage they were making wholesale changes to the car, even changing the rear axle. Fortunately for those teams there is another practice on Saturday to work on making those cars better.

Ryan Blaney and the #21Wood Brothers Ford will miss the race for a third time due to rain. Blaney would most likely made the race on time had there been qualifying. Michael McDowell #95 and Travis Kvapil #30 will also miss the race.

If you cannot get to Chicagoland Speedway for the myAFibRisk.com 400 it will be broadcast on NBCSN on Sunday September 20th starting at 3 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312735 Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images

The Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway

The regular season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is over. 26 races with 11 individual winners, eight who won multiple times, the Chase Contenders have been decided. The first of the three elimination rounds in the NASCAR playoff format begins at Chicagoland Speedway.

There are 16 contenders for the Championship. Their standings in the points have been reset based on the number of races they have won during the regular season. Those drivers with no wins start with 2000 points. Those drivers with wins get an additional 3 points for each win.

1 Jimmie Johnson 2012
2 Kyle Busch 2012
3 Matt Kenseth 2012
4 Joey Logano 2009
5 Kevin Harvick 2006
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr 2006
7 Kurt Busch 2006
8 Carl Edwards 2006
9 Brad Keselowski 2003
10 Martin Truex Jr 2003
11 Denny Hamlin 2003
12 Jamie McMurray 2000
13 Jeff Gordon 2000
14 Ryan Newman 2000
15 Paul Menard 2000
16 Clint Bowyer 2000

The Challenger Round begins at Chicagoland Speedway then moves on to New Hampshire Motor Speedway the next week and then Dover International Speedway the week after. The four Chase contenders who are lowest in points after Dover will be eliminated from the Chase.

The “Rub” as they say is that any of these drivers who win a race regardless of their point standings gets a pass on this round. If that driver happens to be one of those lower in points then it is possible to be 12th in points and still miss the next round. It is highly unlikely but can happen that the three races could be won by a driver at the bottom of the standings so 10th place may not be safe either.

Looking at the reset points Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer really are starting in a hole even though it is only three points. Three points equals three positions on the race track. There are no bonus points for leading laps, only for winning races. It makes these races much easier to follow.

The new Chase Format puts an emphasis on winning but in reality due to the elimination feature teams must be on top of their game each and every week. Brad Keselowski put this feeling into perspective.

We are ready to go. We have some momentum with the top-10’s lately but we need to turn some of those into wins and we know that. We have 10 weeks though to make that happen. We want to be in the Chase and we want to not take that for granted but on the other side we aren’t just happy with just being in it. We want to do more than just that. That is what we are here to do, to make some noise and hopefully bring home a second championship.

Keselowski knows how it works as much as anyone. He opened the Chase at Chicagoland last year with a three wide pass to win and guarantee himself into the Contender Round. He followed that up with a win in the last race of that round at Talladega to move himself into the Eliminator Round. He wasn’t able to back that effort up in that round and was seven points shy and eliminated from the Championship.

Click on this link to read more on Strategies to Win the Championship.

None of these drivers are going to win the Championship at Chicagoland Speedway but they can dig themselves into a hole. A big hole, one of which the only way to crawl out of is by winning one of the next two races.

Let the Challenger Round begin. It is going to be a great one.

If you cannot get to Chicagoland Speedway for the myAFibRisk.com 400 it will be broadcast on NBCSN on Sunday September 20th starting at 3 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312197 Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

NASCAR Race to the Chase Final Report Card

The 2015 NASCAR Race to the Chase for the Sprint Cup is now in the record books. This is the second Race to the Chase for this format. Did the teams learn anything from last year? Did the results of the completion under this format change? This article will build upon what was found last year.

This year we had 11 different winners, eight of which won multiple times compared to 13 winners and seven multiple last year. Just like last year that statistic doesn’t lend itself to indicating a larger “Win and You’re in” mentality. In reality the only driver to “Win and in” was Kyle Busch who missed 11 regular season races due to injury and boy did he win. Busch won four races and will be seeded tied for first in the standings after the reset when the Chase starts. Other than Busch all the other winners ended the regular season in the top 11 in points and would have made the Chase under the previous format.

Year Winners Multiple Winners
2015 11 8
2014 13 7
2013 13 6
2012 14 7
2011 15 5
2010 11 6
2009 13 7
2008 10 4
2007 14 5
2006 11 7
2005 12 6
2004 12 7
Average 12.42 6.25

In the end not much has changed. Jamie McMurray was the only one who would have made the Chase under the previous format on points alone. Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard made the Chase via points but only in the four expanded positions.

Each and every driver who made the Chase worked hard the entire season. Other than Kyle Busch the first 15 drivers in points made the Chase. The one and only benefit of this new format is injured drivers are no longer stuffed into cars in order to get the points and make the Chase. That is the best thing ever to happen in NASCAR.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday September 20th for the myAFibRisk.com 400. If you cannot get to Chicagoland it will be broadcast on NBCSN starting at 3 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312201 Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images