Clint Bowyer No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Richmond Preview

This is it. Saturday night under the lights at Richmond International Raceway, the field for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be set. Clint Bowyer and his 5-hour ENERGY team are poised to earn their third berth together in NASCAR’s playoffs.

Bowyer occupies the 16th and final Chase position with a 29-point lead over 17th place, but just 44 points behind 12th place.  Assuming one of about 15 drivers behind him in Chase points doesn't win the race, he needs to finish 28th or better to clinch a Chase spot. If he leads a lap, then 29th or better. If he leads the most laps, 30th or better puts him in the Chase that begins in Chicago next week.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver owns two wins (September 2012 and May 2008) and four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 19 races at the .75-mile track. Bowyer nearly raced his way into the field last year, coming up just short with a third-place finish. In the race this spring, he finished ninth, making more than half of finishes at the Virginia track top 10s.

What’s the key to Richmond?

“The key to Richmond is what it’s always been. Have a fast race car and a good group of guys around you and certainly we have that. It’s such a fun race track– perfect size. Everybody always asks what’s one of the best race tracks and I really do believe for the speed we go, the tires we’re on and the things we are asking for out of these race cars, that a 3/4-mile track like Richmond is certainly up there.”

What’s the toughest thing for you about getting around Richmond?

“The toughest thing about Richmond is that you’ve got drastically different corners. You know (turns) 1 and 2 are really sweeping, getting into it wide, really narrows down into a tight corner, not a lot of room off of 2. The car wants to get loose getting to it and then you get down in there and it lands and gets tight and oh by the way, you’re out of room and about hit the wall off of 2. And then you get into 3 and it’s exactly the opposite. It’s not a big long drastic turn in. You get in there and you have to pull on the wheel hard and it wants to rip that rear end out from underneath you and you get that thing pointed down this way and you look up and there’s a lot of track there on the exit . That’s the biggest thing about there is just balancing, not being too loose getting into 1 and not being too tight in 3 and 4.”

What’s your mindset with you being on the Chase bubble?

“Richmond is one of those track that I’ve always had a lot of confidence in. She’s been good to me. We’ve gone there and raced our way in there before and we’ve gone there and been locked in and won the thing on a fuel mileage deal. It’s a fun racetrack, challenging. The second time around when the money’s on the line, if you are on that bubble in the Chase, it’s a pressure cooker for sure and pretty intense.”