11/03/2006
Third Time’s the Charm for Bowyer in Texas

Clint Bowyer has barely dabbled in the Craftsman Truck Series this season but in just his third series start he found Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 1.5-mile speedway was reestablished as the fastest track on the circuit when Bowyer set a new track qualifying record of 184.464 mph and scored his first pole award in the Truck Series.

Bowyer led the first 49 laps before Mike Skinner spared no horsepower on a restart after caution and took over the top spot. During the fifth caution of the race the Morgan Dollar Motorsports crew threw down a stop that gave Bowyer the lead again and he never relinquished it.

Things got interesting with about 35 laps to go when Skinner tried an inside move for the lead and Bowyer blocked him into the infield grass. Skinner fell back out of contention and gave Kyle Busch a shot at the victory. Busch got a final chance to take Bowyer when Kerry Earnhardt crashed and set up a green/white/checker finish.

Busch gave it his best shot but Bowyer beat him to the checkers by 0.278-second. “The guys in the pits won this race for us,” said Bowyer. “They beat ‘em on pit road and that’s what put us in position to win this race. Racing up there with Skinner and all those guys is hard racing. You’re blocking and you’re trying to hold them back. I blocked Skinner down there but I felt like I was leaving him plenty of track up high to go around me. I’m sure I’ll hear about it.” Like Bowyer, Busch is a Nextel Cup regular who moonlights in the Truck Series from time to time and in six starts this year he has finished no worse than tenth. “That was good for Chevrolet to finish 1-2 here tonight in the Silverado 350,” noted Busch. “We were really, really tight in the beginning part of the race and I just couldn’t turn through the corners the way I wanted to. So we just kept freeing up the back and let the back do all the work. Most guys don’t like that but we had to do it here tonight in order to finish up front.”

Skinner salvaged a third place finish out of the night but he did have plenty to say about Bowyer’s race strategy. “That’s a pretty chicken way to race somebody with that many laps left to go,” said Skinner. “It’s something that you would expect somebody to do – and I would do it – with five laps to go or so. It’s just one of those deals and hey, it worked for him. It knocked our front end out of whack there a little bit. When he started doing all that I should have wrecked him and I didn’t. That’s just how it goes.”

For the second consecutive week Johnny Benson suffered mechanical failure and this time it was an engine failure that cost him 51 points and quite possibly the championship. “Something broke, not really sure what it was yet,” said Benson. “We had a chance to capitalize, and we didn't.”

Todd Bodine had his own trouble when contact to the right rear of his truck pulled the exhaust off the end of the header and bent the bodywork in. Despite that he managed a 14th place finish and extended his lead to 137 points with two races to go. “I lost horsepower and I lost rear downforce all in one shot and the truck went to junk after that,” Bodine explained. “We just kind of rode around and finished the best we could. Unfortunately for Johnny he had problems and fortunately for us we ended up finishing. We can’t complain too much. I guess I’ve got that horseshoe this year.”

Bodine will carry his horseshoe to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend and prepare for battle at the 1.0-mile speedway in the Valley of the Sun.