Bristol Weekend Preview: Bowyer hopes to continue bounce-back season at Bristol

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)

Clint Bowyer’s NASCAR career hit a crossroad last season. Racing for HScott Motorsports, the 2012 championship runner-up finished 27th in the points standings and only logged three top-10 finishes – both career lows.

Heading into this year as the replacement for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing, there was optimism Bowyer could get his career back on track. So far, he’s experiencing a bounce-back season. He’s already matched his 2016 total with three top-10 finishes and his third-place showing at Auto Club Speedway was his best performance since finishing third at Sonoma Raceway in June of 2015.

Bowyer will attempt to continue his strong start to his 12th full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on FOX) – a track where he’s been successful, but has never won.

In 22 starts at the .533-mile high-banked oval, Bowyer claims six top fives, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 15.7.

“You’re really wheeling that thing, trying to keep the grip under your tires, forward bite,” said Bowyer, describing his love of short-track racing. “Trying to keep the thing turning. Fighting the balance of the cars. Fighting your crew chief all race long because you’re whining in the car, and he is tired of hearing you whine. But all those things come together to win that race and be successful.”

Through seven races, Bowyer ranks ninth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 111 points behind leader Kyle Larson. The 37-year-old Kansas native hasn’t finished a season ninth or better since 2013 when he placed seventh in the final standings.

“This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, whether it was my first opportunity in this sport or my last, to drive for this manufacturer, Ford, and the support they are giving us – everyone at Stewart-Haas, the management and sponsors and my teammates,” Bowyer said. “You don’t put enough emphasis on the impact a good teammate can have on you. Drivers capable of winning races and championships. I have two championship-winning drivers (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch) as teammates. Danica (Patrick), everything she brings for our entire sport, let alone the company. This is the opportunity you are giddy about no matter where you are at in your career.”

Allgaier goes for second straight Xfinity Dash 4 Cash win

Justin Allgaier took home a $100,000 bonus by winning the first NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race at Phoenix Raceway last month.

Justin Allgaier, (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

He’ll try to earn another $100,000 when the Dash 4 Cash competition returns in Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FS1).

To take home the bonus, Allgaier doesn’t even need to win the race. He simply needs to beat the four Dash 4 Cash-eligible drivers to the finish line at the end of the race. The two top-finishing NASCAR Xfinity Series points earning drivers in each of the first two stages make up the four-driver Dash 4 Cash field for the final stage.

Allgaier has run well at Bristol throughout his career. In 12 starts at the Tennessee short track, he boasts one win (2010), five top fives and seven top 10s. He has finished in the top five in his last three Bristol races.

“Bristol has just been one of those places where the very first time I turned laps around the race track I felt comfortable,” Allgaier said. “Last year we he had great finishes, so I’m ready to head back there and hopefully pick back up where we left off with our Cheney Brothers Chevrolet. Plus it’s a Dash 4 Cash race. How great would it be to get another $100,000 for JR Motorsports? We’ve won one already this year, so I’d like nothing more than to go out there and grab another one for this team.”

Bristol Weekend Guide

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Race: Food City 500

Place: Bristol Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 125), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)

What To Watch For: Kyle and Kurt Busch attempt to seize the active Bristol wins lead. Both have five victories at The Last Great Colosseum. … Last summer’s Bristol winner, Kevin Harvick, goes for his second straight win at the Tennessee track. … Matt Kenseth can vie for victory at Bristol where he boasts four career wins. … Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson looks to extend his 17-point advantage over Chase Elliott.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Race: Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300

Place: Bristol Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, April 22 at 1 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 159.9 miles (300 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 85), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on lap 300)

What To Watch For: Six different drivers have won the first six NASCAR Xfinity Series races this season. … Darrell Wallace Jr. has finished sixth in his last five races. If Wallace finishes sixth next weekend at Bristol, he will tie Jack Ingram for the series record in consecutive single finishing positions inside the top-10. … William Byron is the only driver left in the 2017 season to complete every single lap (1,037 laps completed; 100%) of his scheduled go-arounds this season.

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