Clint Bowyer And Others Cannot Race Way Into Chase

Five laps from the finish of Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway, Clint Bowyer asked his team on the radio if he was going to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

There was no response.

The answer became evident when the checkered flag waved. Bowyer would not be in the Chase. Bowyer finished seven points behind Greg Biffle for the final transfer spot.

Entering the race both Ryan Newman and Biffle held the final two transfer spots. They kept those spots, as Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and others could not win or score enough points to surpass either.

"I didn’t have anything for them," Bowyer said on the radio to his team after finishing third to winner Brad Keselowski and runner-up Jeff Gordon.
"You did all you could," crew chief Brian Pattie said.

Bowyer’s woes were not new Saturday.

"That’s kind of been everybody’s problem this year (Keselowski and Gordon) seem to have the ball rolling for sure," Bowyer said.

"It’s not over. Ten races left … we need a win. If we keep running like we did tonight, we’ll get it."

But Bowyer also understands work remains for his team.

"If you make the Chase you want to compete for a championship," he said. "Truth be told, we're not there right now."

The challenge for Bowyer, though, was that for as good as his car was, he struggled with the front end and couldn’t challenge the top two drivers on a night when he needed to do so.

Unable to score a win and earn a Chase spot, Bowyer needed Biffle to have a poor night. While Biffle struggled, his 19th-place finish was enough to keep Bowyer out of the Chase.

Larson entered the race a point behind Bowyer but couldn’t mount a strong enough challenge to earn a Chase spot.

Larson struggled with his car’s handling throughout.

"Terrible," Larson said on the radio to his team about 100 laps into the race. "I’m pretty tight in the center and then I snap loose on exit. I guess we went the wrong way (on changes)."

The car got better. He went from 12th to eighth shortly after a restart before he lost the handling and began losing positions. From there, he spent much of the night trying to crack the top 10. He finished 11th.

McMurray, Larson’s teammate, needed to win to make the Chase and worked his way toward the front, running fourth with less than 100 laps to go but he could not climb any higher and placed fourth.

"We had a fast car," McMurray said. "Had a good night. I thought there were times when we maybe had a chance to get up and contend for the win, but after the third or fourth stop we just weren’t able to make the car better."

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