NASCAR's Bowyer in it to win itNo quit in Clint even though chasing down Cup series leader Johnson a longshot
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
|Clint Bowyer drives the No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota during practice for Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway as he attempts to close the gap on NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship leader Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer is in third place. (Getty Images/AFP)
Clint Bowyer is not giving up on his chances for a first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. But even in his most optimistic moments he knows there is a steep hill to climb for him and the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota team.
Bowyer sits in third place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, 20 points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team with three races left — Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway; next week at Phoenix International Raceway; and the finale at Homestead Miami Speedway Nov. 18.
Bowyer joked on Friday that not even Hurricane Sandy could slow down Johnson, but he mused there might be other ways to keep the No. 48 driver from winning his sixth Sprint Cup trophy.
Johnson, of course, lives in New York City with his former-model wife Chandra and daughter Genevieve.
“Well, Jimmie wasn’t in New York when Sandy hit; he was in North Carolina so it looks like he made it (to Texas),” Bowyer said. “So, scratch that from the list of (ways) that I could win this championship.
“I think a hitman is probably out of order. He rides his bicycle a lot — I was hoping maybe he would blow his knee out or something. Nothing career-ending or anything. Maybe painful — something painful to keep him out of the car.”
On the serious side, Bowyer said he has to admire Johnson and knows that the way to a championship for anybody in NASCAR Sprint Cup has to go through the No. 48 team.
“You have to beat him,” he said. “It’s incredible the job they do each and every year and it’s a challenge for everybody to try to outrun him. They are so solid.”
Bowyer said even when misfortune strikes Johnson, as it did when he hit the wall at Kansas two weeks, he still managed a top-10 finish in a bashed-up race car.
“We saw in Kansas, just about the time you think, ‘Oh boy, they’ve done stubbed their toe now,’ they had a hell of a Band-Aid and got it fixed right back up,” Bowyer said. “I think he finished right behind me and its like, ‘How did they possibly do that?’ That’s what it takes to win a championship and if we do that, it’s going to be pretty cool.”
The 33-year-old native of Emporia, Kan., isn’t about to roll over and play dead, however, no matter that the odds are stacked against him catching and passing Johnson.
“We just have to keep digging,” he said. “We came up a little bit short in Martinsville. We had a good car we just unfortunately lost a few points there. Nonetheless, we have to make up for it here in Texas. We’ve got three races to go and everyone is still set on kill.”
Bowyer said it is particularly frustrating because the team has been very good in the first seven Chase races, giving him good cars every time out.
“We’ve been solid,” he said. “We’ve been more solid than I think I’ve ever been in the Chase and still we found ourselves losing points and it’s just incredible to me how competitive this sport is. It just keeps getting harder and harder and harder.”
For his part Johnson said on Friday that he fears Bowyer, even if he is 20 points back, and fourth-place Kasey Kahne, who is 26 points back.
“Clint is a serious threat, so is Kasey,” Johnson said. “Those guys have been very strong. I think both have shown their best in the Chase and have really delivered and stepped up.
“I’m glad that we have a gap over those guys. If we slip up they are going to be right there.”
Bowyer agrees, saying, he is willing to be patient and pounce if Johnson does make a mistake over the final three Chase races
“Anything can happen,” Bowyer said. “Three races is still a lot of racing. You can go into Homestead 20 points out and win this thing. You never know what’s going to happen.
“It could come down to the last lap, Jimmie runs out of gas and you win the championship. We’ve seen that before. There’s just so many crazy things that could still happen.”
Sad news Friday that former Canadian racing champion Craig Hill, who was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1996, passed away at his home in West Lorne, Ont. ... After a season without a win by either Juan Pablo Montoya or Jamie McMurray, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will use Hendrick Motorsports engines to power its Cup cars next year, ending a four-year relationship with Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines.
WINNING FORMULA PRICIER
The cost of winning in Formula 1
just took a dramatic and expensive turn upward.
FIA, the governing body of F-1, shocked teams on Friday by releasing new entry fees for 2013 that would add about
$4 million US to the cost of the championship team.
According to the new scheme, the constructors’ champion would be forced to pay an initial $500,000 plus $6,000 for each point earned during the season.
Everybody else pays the same initial fee but just $5,000 per point.
Based on last season’s Red Bull championship team, which ended up with 650 points, that would mean a jump from about $400,000 per season to $4.4 million a season.