Bowyer escapes trouble at Bristol to remain in the chase
Despite a few spins and a story made public last week that he is a looking for a ride after Michael Waltrip Racing announced it will shut its doors after the 2015 season, Bowyer still sits 16th in the Sprint Cup Chase Standings.
After MWR teammate David Ragan and Jimmie Johnson got together after a restart with 133 laps to go in Saturday’s night Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol, Bowyer was in the wrong place at the wrong time as Ragan’s Toyota came down on him and made contact. The #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry did not suffer a lot of damage and was able to continue and rally for a fifth-place finish in the race won by Joey Logano.
"You hate to have that good of a car -- have two good cars and the last person you want to get into and have trouble with is your teammate," Bowyer told NBC Sports Network after the race.
"I'm sick to death about that. We had two top-five cars and MWR really needed that run. With that being said we desperately needed a solid run right there. I mean obviously you're hungry for a win with this organization given everything it had and I drove my butt off, we just came up short."
Last Sunday in Michigan, Bowyer was running near the top ten when he was tapped by Ryan Newman and went flying towards the inside backstretch wall. Despite repairs to the rear end of the car, crew chief Billy Scott and team could only muster a 41st place finish in the Irish Hills.
Then rumors throughout the garage area over the last month became reality when Michael Waltrip Motorsports officially announced it will not field a full-time Sprint Cup team in 2016, making Bowyer a NASCAR free agent with 13 races to go in the season.
While Bowyer had just a 23-point cushion on Aric Almirola for the 16th spot going into Bristol, he now leads the Richard Petty Motorsports driver by 35 heading for Darlington on Labor Day weekend. Bowyer is ahead of Kasey Kahne by 37 points.
Bowyer cannot afford a bad finish in the next two races. He also could be bumped if a driver outside of the top 16 wins one of the next two races.
"This was a big night for us. We needed this," Bowyer said. "Great night for us given everything that's happened this week this was certainly what we needed as a group, as an organization to have two cars run in the top five. Sick with what happened with the 55 (Ragan). David has done such a good job of stepping in and filling in that seat and being a good teammate. We certainly didn't want to see that."
Bowyer has pledged to be the consumate teammate and give his all to MWR for the rest of the year. But he knows he is now one of the hottest free agents out there for the 2016 season and new alliances can happen in a hurry.
"Absolutely, what I'm going to have in the future ... will be another announcement and I'll tell you as soon as possible. It's as simple as that.”
"I'm confident in the sport, I love this sport and the sport has been good to me and my family -- (I've) had a lot of great partners and a lot of great organizations that I've worked for, and I see no reason why somebody that works hard and wants it like I do ... can't have a job for as long as they want."
Bowyer’s top five on Saturday was his second on the season to go along with 10 top tens.
Josh was raised in Northeast Ohio attending open wheel racing, but attended his first Daytona 500 in 2002 and was instantly hooked. Since then he has attended races from Las Vegas to Talladega to Indianapolis and beyond. Josh works in game entertainment with many professional sports teams, but motorsports is a true passion. He started writing his own blog, Speed 4 Thought (www.sabosite.wordpress.com), in 2014 and he can’t get enough of any type of auto racing.