Entering Sunday’s Pure Michigan International Speedway, Clint Bowyer was holding on to the 16th spot in the Chase standings with just four races left before the Chase field is set.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver had been on a bit of a hot streak as of late, scoring three consecutive top-10 finishes at Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen.
However, on Lap 127 of Sunday’s race, Bowyer was battling just outside the top 10 when his No. 15 Toyota got bottled up behind Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson at the exit of Turn 2. As Bowyer made a move up the track, he was turned into the outside wall hard and shot back down the track into Ryan Newman.
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The contact with Newman sent Bowyer’s car into a long side down the backstretch, where he made contact with the rear of the car on the inside wall to bring out the sixth caution of the day.
Newman’s team was able to make repairs on pit road and keep the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet on the lead lap.
Despite trying to make repairs on pit road, the team led by crew chief Billy Scott was forced to take the car to the garage before the race restarted with 70 laps to go to work on the right-front suspension.
With little attrition in Sunday’s race, Bowyer fell to 41st on the leaderboard when the race went back to green-flag conditions. And after making lengthy repairs, Bowyer rejoined the race with 49 laps to go, but was still listed in 41st and 26 laps down to the race leader.
When Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag at the end of the day, Bowyer was still 41st on the leaderboard, unable to make up any ground.
While Bowyer entered the race 16th in the Chase standings, the MWR driver does not have a win yet this season. Bowyer had a 50-point advantage over Aric Almirola, who entered in 17th, and 51-point advantage over Kasey Kahne, who entered in 18th.
Finishing 41st, Bowyer heads to Bristol Motor Speedway with a 23-point advantage over Almirola and is now 33 points behind Ryan Newman. While Bowyer is still inside the top 16 in the Chase standings as of now, he cannot afford another poor finish or a winless driver earning a victory over the next three races.