To Bowyer, qualifying counts

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Saturday, Sep 06 1457

Even though Clint Bowyer has an outside chance to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on points, if disaster befalls Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle, his only realistic path to the playoffs is a victory in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400.

Here’s a statistic that argues in Bowyer’s favor. In seven of his eight career Sprint Cup victories, Bowyer has started in the top six on the grid. So it’s safe to say that, when Bowyer has a race-winning car, it’s also fast in qualifying trim.

And on Saturday night, with one chance left to make the Chase, Bowyer starts sixth.

Of course, there’s always the exception that proves the rule. The only time Bowyer has ever come from deeper than sixth in the field to win was at Richmond in May of 2008, when he started 31st.

Denny Hamlin led 381 laps that night but fell victim to a cut tire. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading late in the race, but Kyle Busch slid up the track into the No. 88 Chevy with two laps left, opening the door for Bowyer to pass for the win.