Clint Bowyer feels heat for final spot in NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason Chase

Veteran in group making a run at final spot in Chase

August 18, 2010|By George Diaz, Tribune newspapers

Clint Bowyer will peek into his rearview mirror for the next few weeks, cautious of the rumble coming his way.

Mark Martin is on his bumper, only 35 points behind and trying to clinch a berth in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Only three races remain before the 12-driver field is set, with the last stop Sept. 11 at Richmond.

Martin dropped in the standings after finishing 28th on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, losing the 12th position to Bowyer.

I don't envy Bowyer's spot.

Now 51, Martin has been the ultimate warrior on the NASCAR circuit for years. He has one of the strongest work ethics in the business.

How could you root against him?

"It's real different than last year," Martin said before Sunday's race. "Last year, it was so intense because we knew that if we got in the Chase, we could win it — and we nearly did. It would have been a major crime to have missed the Chase last year.

"This year, we have to continue to build momentum quickly, if we make the Chase, to be relevant once we get in."

Here's a peek at the other "bubble boys" as everyone heads to Bristol for a Saturday night race.

Ryan Newman (103 points behind Bowyer): He didn't help his chances by finishing 23rd on Sunday after a run of bumper cars with Joey Logano and a nasty exchange in the pits.

Jamie McMurray (105 points): It has been a good year already for McMurray, who won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. Getting into the Chase would make it a great one.

Kasey Kahne (126 points): He is in his last few months with Richard Petty Motorsports and will race for Hendrick Motorsports next season. Not exactly the place you want to be. "The guys want to work hard and do a good job through the rest of the season," Kahne said. "Hopefully that doesn't change."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (129 points): NASCAR's most popular driver is simply mediocre on the track. Not much worth celebrating this season. Making a late run to get into the Chase would change everything. If not, Earnhardt will miss the Chase for the third time in four seasons.

gdiaz@tribune.com

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