Clint Bowyer not only is coming off a victory last weekend at Talladega, he’ll get his crew chief back this week with the series heading to Texas Motor Speedway as well.
Crew chief Shane Wilson has completed a four-race suspension for Bowyer’s illegal car that won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the opening Chase For The Sprint Cup race.
Richard Childress Racing, which denied intent and that the quarter-thin height advantage played a role in the victory, appealed the original penalty, and Wilson’s suspension was reduced from six to four races while the 150-point penalty remained the same.
Wilson missed NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway in California, Charlotte, Martinsville and Talladega.
During the two weeks while appealing the penalty, Bowyer finished 25th and 15th. In the next four races with Richard Childress Racing competition director Scott Miller as crew chief, Bowyer has had finishes of second, 17th, 38th and the win.
Bowyer, whose Talladega car passed all inspections, is still 12th in the standings and 367 points out of the lead. Two weeks ago, Bowyer’s pit crew was moved to RCR teammate Kevin Harvick’s car to give Harvick a better chance at winning the title.
“To win the Chase opener at New Hampshire, then have the penalty, ever since then it’s just kind of been a pretty rocky road, truthfully not much to look forward to,” Bowyer said. “You lose your crew chief, mojo, pit crew, everything is tumbling down. To win a race got things back in the right direction, where they needed to be.
“We almost won California, too. We would have won three races. The greedy side of me wants to think of that.”
Wilson and Bowyer have worked together since the start of 2009, and Bowyer said he would be glad to have him back. But he also is trying to look at Wilson’s respite as a positive.
“It’s been good for all of us,” Bowyer said. “It’s opened our eyes to a couple things that we’ve been missing. Communication side of it on race day is one. Scott Miller did a great job.
“Things are intense. When they get heated up, things can get out of control, spiral downhill pretty quick. Scott did a great job of managing that situation, keeping things pointed in the right direction. It helped me having to pick my end of it up a little bit, take the reins myself, be a little bit more of a quarterback instead of just having Shane do it all.”
So what was Wilson thinking when Bowyer won?
“It’s kind of a bittersweet deal,” Bowyer said after the victory. “I’m sure he’s probably sitting at home, celebrating as he always does. Probably had a couple extras just for the depression side of it, as well.”
While Bowyer and Wilson are out of championship contention, Bowyer is only 50 points out of seventh. Bowyer wants to finish in the top 10 because only 10 drivers get to speak at the postseason awards banquet.
“The goals from here, obviously getting my crew chief back this weekend … and getting things headed in the right direction for next year is huge,” he said. “I think we can win another race by the end of the year, I really do. We’re running good.
“Being able to walk across the stage and thank your sponsors at the banquet is very important. There are 12 drivers in the Chase, but only 10 of them get recognized and get on stage at the championship banquet. To get on there, thank your sponsors, all your team members that have gotten you that far in the season is very important to me.”