Here comes Bowyer!

Clint Bowyer bump-drafts Martin Truex Jr. during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam...

Clint Bowyer bump-drafts Martin Truex Jr. during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Getty/AFP)

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:40 PM ET

TALLADEGA, ALA. - There are a whole lot of nervous nellies among the dozen NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in the Chase for the Championship as they head into Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

One of them, however, is not Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, and winner of last year’s wreck fest at the 2.66- mile banked oval.

He said on Friday he can’t wait to get out there and start waging war on the track he said can change the whole complexion of NASCAR’s post season in one furious second.

“This can be a game changer,” he said. “This is one of the tracks that can separate somebody and possibly win you a championship. It seems like each and every week these first few, it’s just been a point or two here, a point or two there. This is one that can swing 20, 30 points and take you out of the running or push you into it.

“Everybody is anticipating those last few laps here. I love racing here. It’s so much fun. It’s such a thrill to be able to go around there and know the storm is brewing and all hell is fixing to break loose and you’re fixing to be a part of it. It’s a pretty neat situation to be in.”

Bowyer said he has a plan and it is simply to try to stay clear of the inevitable “big one” in order to be in position to make a run for the lead in the final few laps.

“You’ve got to be able to get yourself to the end of the thing, then get yourself in position,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you lead all the laps and run up front all day long, if you’re not there when that checkered flag falls nobody knows who led the most laps in most of these races anyways. Nobody even cares.

“They all care about who won and, more importantly, where this Chase bunch finished, because that’s what it’s all about right now.”

Bowyer, who sits fourth in the Chase, 25 back of Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, said Talladega is an opportunity for him to make up ground, or even pass the guys in front of him on the leaderboard.

“It is fun to be able to be in my situation,” he said. “I’ve got to make up some ground and this is the one track where I can make up a lot of ground on those guys. You’ve got to use it as an opportunity.”

Bowyer also threw cold water on the theory — put forward by Keselowski — a driver has to be super smart to survive a superspeedway race.

He said luck can be more important at Talladega than brains.

“I’ve been here, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m the smartest human being in the world and I’ve won this thing a few times myself,” he said. “Let me tell you, a lot of luck goes into it and you’ve got to be able to strategize and get yourself into the right situation that you think you want to be in. But, you’ve got to have the luck to make it happen.”

At the end of the day Bowyer said he just plans to relax and “have a damn good time all weekend.”

JUNIOR GOING FOR IT

There was a time when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the king of Talladega.

In fact between 2001 and 2004 Earnhardt won five of seven races at the big track.

In the past eight seasons, however, he has been shut out.

So Earnhardt said he’s going full tilt boogie on Sunday to try to get some of his Talladega mojo back.

“I guess because I have nothing to lose,” he said on Friday. “And that fits right into how you sort of race this race track. It’s kind of a no-holds-barred, lay-it- out-there kind of thing.

“Anytime you’re cautious, you tend to get yourself in trouble and the guys that are a lot more aggressive seem to find themselves toward the front of the mess when it all goes down and end up being the ones that for some reason will finish.”

Earnhardt said he doesn’t want to lose the race, lamenting that he left something on the track.

“We’re just going to throw it all out there, man,” he said. “We’re in a position where it really doesn’t matter. We can’t be conservative at all. We’ve really got to take a lot of risks.

“With just a few races left and as good as everybody is running, we really have to get pretty aggressive and that should play right into this race track’s hands.

“It’s a place that really kind of asks for that and you’ve got to really take some risks and be pretty daring out there to make some things happen.”

 


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