Wednesdays on the Backstretch Blog are going to belong to Kansas' favorite son, Clint Bowyer. We will recap the previous week's race and look forward to the up coming weekend. But you won't just hear my take, you will also get a chance to find out what the Emporia native thought of the action.
This week we start with the granddaddy of the them all (no not the Rose Bowl), the Daytona 500. Bowyer was actually my pick to win the race. He is such a good plate racer and he was one of the top 5 drivers through out speedweeks, from the Shootout to qualifying to the Nationwide race, Bowyer was always the leader of the pack. He even managed to avoid the engine problems that plagued 2/3rds of the ECR engines. But he couldn't avoid an accident with 4 laps to go. His team was able to keep him on the lead lap, and he salvaged a 17th place finish.
"What can you say? It was just one of those racing deals," said Bowyer. "We had one of the best cars out there today and got caught up in someone else's mess. To tell you the truth, I still don't know what happened. It was all so fast. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) called a great race and, once again, we were right there at the end."
Now we go west to the desert as NASCAR makes the trek to Phoenix International Raceway. It's another pretty good track for Bowyer, he has a pair of top fives and four top tens at PIR. It's also the track where he made his Sprint Cup Series debut in 2005.
The last time he was in Phoenix (that would be just last Novemeber), Bowyer ran out of gas and finished 21st, but before that he put together a pair of top tens. But he still feels like the 33 team has some work to do to find victory lane at PIR.
"That's one of my favorite race tracks. We've really put a lot of emphasis on Phoenix this year in the off season because I know our package isn't right. I don't know what it is, but that's one of my best race tracks," said Bowyer.
It's also when most believe the season begins. With restrictor plate racing at Daytona being such a different animal, this is the first time teams really get a chance to see what they have.
"Phoenix is an important race track," Bowyer said. "It gives you that first shot at looking where you stack up against the competition. Do you have work to do? Are you behind? Are you looking good compared to the competition? That's your first look at how you stack up to the competition."
In addition to running the Cup series, Clint will also be in Kevin Harvick's #2 in Friday's truck race.