TORONTO - You can’t blame Clint Bowyer for being ticked off. After all, here he is the only driver in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with two victories — at New Hampshire and Talladega — yet he sits dead last in the 12-driver playoff format.
Throw in he fact that he came close to winning at California and you have a real head scratcher.
But looking at the mess that was the aftermath at Louden when NASCAR inspectors ruled the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was illegal and you get to the root of the problem.
As a result of that infraction Bowyer lost 150 championship points and his crew chief Shane Wilson. And prior to Martinsville he also lost his pit crew, which Childress moved to Chase contender Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 team.
So Bowyer has a right to feel wronged.
“Oh, yeah. I mean, I’ve thought that ever since the penalty, to be honest with you,” he said Tuesday by phone. “To win the opener at New Hampshire, then have the penalty, ever since then it’s just kind of been a pretty rocky road, truthfully not much to look forward to. You lose your crew chief, mojo, pit crew, everything is tumbling down.
“To win a race (at Talladega) got things back in the right direction, where they needed to be. We almost won California, too. We would have won three races.”
Without the penalty Bowyer would have 5,932 points, which would have put him in fifth place, not enough to win a championship but enough to at least be honoured at the championship gala in Las Vegas.
“There’s 12 Chase drivers in the Chase, but only 10 of them get recognized and get on stage,” he said. “I got to get within the top 10 to do that. That’s goal number one right now.”
Formula for failure
A sure way to back out of a championship in big time racing is to start going conservative, but that is exactly what Ferrari appears to want to do on Sunday at Interlagos at the finale of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi.
Just when it looked like the Italian squad had perfected an aggressive style of racing to finally overtake the Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel Ferrari, racing boss Stefano Domenicali starts spouting that the team will have to be “very careful” in the final two races of the season.
Domenicali’s logic is that the championship won’t likely be decided in Brazil, so he doesn’t want to take any chance on losing ground before Abu Dhabi.
The Italian squad’s Fernando Alonso is leading the championship following his win in Korea, 11 points in front of Webber.
“(Brazil) is unlikely to decide the outcome, but it will be a very important race. If one were to lose valuable points here it would make Abu Dhabi a bigger call,” Domenicali said. ”We have seen how complicated the races have been throughout the season, which means we have to be very careful.”
It says here that is not the right answer.
Some eyebrows were raised when Hendrick Motorsports announced that AARP (American Association of Retired People) would fork over $10-$15 million U.S. a season for the next three years to put their “Drive to End Hunger” logo on the No. 24 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon. But AARP V-P Kyle Lewis said that the group will re-coup that investment easily. “People ask: ‘Why not feed people with the money (spent on the car)?’ ” Lewis, said. “Well, as soon as we do that, we have to refill the kitty to continue feeding people. (The car) helps to keep that flow of funds full.” ... Chip Ganassi has still not made up his mind yet on whether to stick with Chevrolet for next season for his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team or switch to Ford. A final decision is expected at the end of this week.