Aug 25, 2013, 1:14 PM EDT
No one could blame Clint Bowyer for being a bit frustrated after last night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, even though he, along with race winner Matt Kenseth, managed to clinch a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Earlier on Saturday, Bowyer had been setting himself up as a potential contender for the victory. After starting 24th, he got past Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the lead at Lap 126 and then led the next 50 laps.
But it all went by the boards after he made contact with a lapped car and was spun out of the lead on Lap 176. A sliding Bobby Labonte then came along and hit Bowyer from the side on the front stretch.
“I felt like we had a shot at winning and then I got spun out there by a lapper of all things,” said Bowyer. “When I got hit up there, it hit that left-front tire and the car never turned the center as good the rest of the night.”
Although he was able to stay on the lead lap, Bowyer was mired in the field once more, which led to his team playing the pit strategy card to get back track position.
The gambit almost worked out, with the Kansas native coming back into the Top 5 again by Lap 350 and then putting himself in second place for a restart with 50 laps to go. But then more bad luck came along as he ran out of fuel on the last lap.
The final outcome for Bowyer was a 14th-place result – a far cry from what he’d been hoping for. And thus, even with the accomplishment of making the Chase for the fifth time in his career, he still felt unfulfilled.
“[The Chase berth] means a lot, but I’m just really disappointed tonight because we had a really good car,” he said. “Absolutely nothing really went our way all night.”