With one race to go until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Clint Bowyer finds himself in limbo when it comes to qualifying for NASCAR’s 10-event, 16-driver playoff.
At the moment, he’s in the Chase as the 16th and final driver based on points. That could change in a hurry if there’s a new winner from outside the Chase Grid in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). In that case, Bowyer would have to erase a 10-point deficit to Paul Menard or an 18-point deficit to Jeff Gordon.
The No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing driver didn’t seem too worried about his Chase chances after a 17th-place finish at Darlington, but did note a berth isn’t guaranteed.
“I think we're still in good shape,” Bowyer said. “You're never good until you're in, but we did the best we could."
Fortunately for Bowyer, there hasn’t been a new winner since Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in the June 28 race at Sonoma. If there is a repeat winner on Saturday, Bowyer just has to maintain his 29-point lead over Aric Almirola and 31-point edge over Kasey Kahne, respectively, to make his sixth career Chase.
Or Bowyer could simply control his own destiny by winning outright at the .75-mile track where he’s taken two checkered flags (2012, 2008).
“Richmond is one of those tracks that I’ve always had a lot of confidence in,” Bowyer said. “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 race track, 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.”