Bowyer happy just to have a shot at Chase

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA – SEPTEMBER 11: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. –  Three months ago, Clint Bowyer probably would have considered earning a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot for lame duck Michael Waltrip Racing a lost cause.

But an uptick in performance by the No. 15 Toyota team, after a crew chief swap began to bear fruit, has Bowyer poised to claim the last of 16 spots in NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.

Bowyer has several routes to the Chase. If he wins Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway , he’s in. Two of Bowyer’s eight career victories have come at RIR.

If of the 15 other drivers currently in Chase-eligible positions wins on Saturday, Bowyer makes the Chase if he remains ahead of Aric Almirola in the standings. Bowyer leads Almirola by 29 points entering the final regular-season race, with each point equaling one position on the track.

Even if a driver outside the top 16 happens to take the checkered flag, Bowyer can still qualify for the playoff by moving ahead of one of the drivers in front of him in the standings. Closest within reach are Paul Menard (10 points ahead of Bowyer) and Jeff Gordon (18 points ahead).

“I’m telling you, two months ago I didn’t see this even being a shot, and they (the No. 15 team) really dug deep and worked hard. We switched crew chiefs (before the June race at Michigan), we switched some key components of the organization around and, boom, it took off and we marched our way into the Chase talk.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.