Slower is better as Bowyer wins in Charlotte - NASCAR Notes - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

NASCAR NOTES: Slower is better as Bowyer wins in Charlotte

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

Everyone knows that slowing down in a NASCAR race is not usually the winning strategy. However, that is exactly what Clint Bowyer and his No.15 Michael Waltrip Racing team did to capture their first Chase victory of the season in Charlotte last Saturday night.

After qualifying in the Top 5, Bowyer definitely had the horsepower to race for the win. Unfortunately, late caution flags turned the event into a fuel-mileage struggle and the young driver never got a chance to show what he had under the hood.

"To have an engine under your hood that can perform like it did qualifying in the Top 5, then to also have fuel economy to not have to pit late," said team owner Michael Waltrip after the race. "I think a lot of people need to look at what our manufacturer has done for our organization."

Bowyer's win not only put him in Victory Lane but also put him back into the championship picture as he moved to within 28 points of Chase leader Brad Keselowski.

"You have a setback where we all get wrecked at Talladega, it's easy to get down and get bummed out," commented Bowyer on his title hopes. "To be able to come back here and get all three cars back in the Top 10, to win this race, really set the standard of getting on down the road and putting that behind us."

Keselowski also tried the fuel mileage strategy but wasn't as fortunate as Bowyer as he ran out of gas attempting to stretch the last stop. That move sealed his fate for this event and he came home with an 11th-place finish.

Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson were close behind Bowyer at the finish and both were on the same fuel strategy as the race winner.

"We knew what he was doing and we saved the fuel that we needed, and we slowed down just enough to finish second," said a curious Hamlin after the race. "It'll be interesting to see how much fuel we had left and whether we could have cut the reins a little bit sooner and passed the 15. We just needed one more lap."

Johnson on the other hand admits he is not very good at saving fuel but managed to make it all the way to third place.

"You argue with yourself lap-after-lap how hard to go, how much fuel you're using, then you're wondering if you used too much or not enough," commented Johnson on his thoughts over those last few laps. "It's just a big head game."

Bowyer actually ran out of fuel during his victory celebration and had to be pushed to victory lane.

When asked how much fuel he had at the end, Bowyer sheepishly said, "About a burnout full."

Fuel mileage races don't often excite many race fans but Saturday night produced a truly dramatic finish. It was interesting to see so many teams on several different strategies with the possibility of the top three running out of gas on the final lap. That's what makes NASCAR so unpredictable and the Chase so exciting.

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