Bowyer one to watch at Talladega

The Charlotte ObserverMay 2, 2013 

— When it comes to racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Clint Bowyer is either hit or miss.

He’s had a lot of hits in some of those misses, too.

In 14 career starts at the track, Bowyer has finished 12th or higher nine times. In the other five races, he didn’t finish better than 23rd and wrecked out of three of those.

Yet sandwiched in middle are two victories, which makes Talladega one of three tracks (New Hampshire and Richmond, Va., are the others) where he owns two wins. He also has one win each at Charlotte and Sonoma, Calif., in his Sprint Cup Series career.

For Bowyer, there may not be a better time for the series to stop at NASCAR’s biggest track.

Fresh off a career-best second-place finish in the series standings in 2012, Bowyer is already off to a better start this year. Entering Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, he is seventh in points with five top-10 and four top-five finishes.

A year ago at this time, Bowyer was 12th in the series standings. He didn’t earn his first win of the year until the season’s 16th race.

“I think we picked up right where we left off last year. Obviously everybody talks about that second-place jinx and everything else (but) it just isn’t the case with us,” Bowyer said.

“We were the first year in with a brand new team (in 2012), we finished second in the championship and won three races. There was absolutely nothing to be holding your head down.

“We were all super pumped up and couldn’t wait to get started in 2013.”

Talladega provides as good a chance as any for Bowyer to earn his first win of the season. Both of his wins at the track have come in the past five races.

Bowyer was 11th in the season-opening Daytona 500, the first race at a restrictor-plate track in the Cup series’ new model cars.

Ask what he expects this weekend, Bowyer replied, “Well, certainly hope that it’s better. Daytona wasn’t that bad,” he said.

“The Cup race, could it have been better? Probably. Was it the very first race with the brand new car fresh out of the box? Yes. There’re always things to be learned.”

While some fans were not pleased with the quality of racing at Daytona, Bowyer said what constitutes a good race seems to be a changing target of late.

“The goal of what a good race is and the vision of the fan changes from time to time, not for a bad thing, that’s facts,” he said. “What our fans ask for and what we strive for as far as a product on the race track on those superspeedways changes sometimes.

“The good thing about that, what I’ve seen is the restrictor-plate tracks are a heck of a lot easier to change and perfect and manipulate rule wise than are these mile and a half and short tracks.”

NASCAR has indicated it doesn’t anticipate altering the rules package for this weekend’s race, but it always has the ability to change the size of the restrictor-plates – and raise or lower speeds – on nearly a moment’s notice.

“If we get down there and (NASCAR) doesn’t see what it wants to see as far as racing, I think there’re some things we could possibly do to change the car ever so slightly and obviously change the product,” he said.

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