The nightmare scenario unfolded for Clint Bowyer in Sunday night’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Entering the race a comfortable 31 points above the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cutoff line in the 15th position on the grid, Bowyer seemed to be safely in the series’ postseason. Eighty laps into the race, things took a turn for the worse. Bowyer’s shifter broke on the 80th lap, causing him to finish 38th, and Kasey Kahne clinched the checkered flag, eliminating a Chase spot for winless drivers. By the end of the night, Bowyer plummeted to 17th on the Chase grid, 23 points below Greg Biffle for the final spot.
“It seems like if it weren’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck,” Bowyer said. “We’ve been good at Richmond but we are going to have to have a really good finish, if not a win, to make it into the Chase.”
Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on ABC) could not come at a better time for Bowyer. Barring a minor miracle, he needs to win to get into the Chase and Richmond is a place where he’s a proven victor. Arguably his best track, Bowyer boasts two wins, three top fives and nine top 10s at the .75-mile, D-shaped course.