Bowyer: Talladega could decide the Chase

(L-R) Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women Toyota, talks with Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 5, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

TALLADEGA, Ala. — If there’s a race track in the Chase that can be a massive game changer, Clint Bowyer believes Talladega is it.

Bowyer, who won the last two fall races at the 2.66-mile track, hopes Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 affords him the opportunity to gain significant ground on the three drivers ahead of him in the standings, Chase leader Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

“I think this track is the reason why everybody in the Chase is still in it,” Bowyer said Friday. “This is the only track that all of us can get wiped out, or maybe all of us but one or two . . . This is a dangerous wild-card race for the Chase, and you’ve just got to go out there and be as careful as you can and also be as aggressive as you can and try to get yourself in the situation to win this thing.”

Bowyer, who trails Keselowski by 26 points, underscored just how important Sunday’s race could be.

“This can be a game-changer,” he said. “This is one of the tracks that can separate somebody and possibly win you a championship. It seems like each and every week these first few (Chase races). It’s been a point or two here, a point or two there.

“This is one that can swing 20, 30 points and take you out of the running or push you into it. . . . I love racing here. It’s so much fun. It’s such a thrill to be able to go around there and know that the storm is brewing, and all hell is fixing to break loose, and you’re fixing to be a part of it.”

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