A broken shifter last week at Atlanta has put Clint Bowyer in desperation mode at Richmond. He needs a win on Saturday night to grab a dramatic last-grasp berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The broken part was a devastating blow to Bowyer, who lost two spots in the standings and fell behind Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle in the jockeying for the final two spots in the 16-driver Chase field.
Under NASCAR’s new win-and-in system, 17 different drivers can race their way into the Chase in the final “regular season” event.
Bowyer, a two-time winner at Richmond International Raceway, likes his chances.
“If I possibly could ever pick a track which i had to go to that I had to try to fight my way into this Chase, it’s that one,” Bowyer said. “This is one of my favorite tracks. I love this place and love racing here and competing here. Hopefully, she’ll be great to me one more time.”
Newman may be the only driver in control of his fate and can clinch a spot in the Chase if he finishes 18th or better when there is a first-time winner this season that isn’t Matt Kenseth. Biffle needs to see a repeat winner, or Newman or Kenseth, and finish of 22nd or better.
But he expects a tough challenge from Bowyer, the Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, and Paul Menard. Those drivers view Saturday night as “their last lunge for a lifetime to get in,” Biffle said.
“Whether it’s staying out and taking two tires or whatever, getting up there and blocking or managing a guy out of the groove, they’ll do whatever they can to win to get involved with the Chase,” he said. “We hope it is uneventful and something of the guys that have won already wins it, however i know that it is going to be dicey in advance with those guys looking to get their win.”