Bowyer, Waltrip rally for Top-5 finishes at Daytona (VIDEO)

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Overcoming a late run-in with each other on pit road, Clint Bowyer (pictured, #15) and boss Michael Waltrip (pictured, #55) both managed to grab Top-5 finishes in last night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Bowyer’s fourth-place finish enabled him to leapfrog Carl Edwards for second in the Sprint Cup standings behind race winner Jimmie Johnson, and Waltrip’s fifth-place run was his second Top-5 in restrictor-plate races this season.

It nearly went pear-shaped for the Michael Waltrip Racing duo however on Lap 129, when Bowyer went toward his pit stall for service but turned Waltrip around and sent him rear-first into his pit box.

That sent the two-time Daytona 500 winner all the way to 36th, but with help from David Gilliland, he drafted back towards the front and was able to avoid multiple incidents within the final ten laps before teaming up with Bowyer again for the green-white-checkered finish.

“We were just really fortunate because we got in a wreck on pit road and the team did an amazing job of fixing the car,” said Waltrip. “It was dragging the ground and they put some packer in the front, got it off the ground.

“We spend months building these cars and meticulously tweaking every inch of them, and they jacked me up and dropped me on a block of wood to get the nose off the ground and we were able to drive it to fifth.”

As for Bowyer, he opted to drop back from third starting position early on in an attempt to save his equipment for what proved to be a wild finale. The strategy paid off.

“I just saw all that stuff in the mirror,” said Bowyer of the chaotic final lap. “But, I mean I was pushing Michael and I got an opportunity to get to the bottom of him and got him passed. And, I was looking in the mirror and all hell broke loose. Man, that’s Daytona.

“I made a rule with myself at these restrictor-plate tracks to be easy, you know, ride around. It’s boring. You hate to do that for your sponsors – for your team. You want to be up there racing for every lap led. [But] it’s just kind of been working for me.”

Toro Rosso at crossroads after Kvyat’s point, Hartley’s strong debut

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In a weekend with something to prove at Circuit of The Americas, Daniil Kvyat rose to the occasion with what he called “his best race of the season for sure” at the United States Grand Prix.

But it may not be enough for the Russian to have saved his seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the three final races this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Brendon Hartley capped off his roller-coaster debut weekend in Formula 1 with a solid 13th place finish after starting from the rear of the grid, learning as the race went on and bringing home his Toro Rosso chassis to the flag.

Toro Rosso faces a dilemma of three drivers available but only two seats to fill for the final three Grands Prix, with the Mexican Grand Prix coming up just next week.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly will be back after missing Austin due to his Super Formula commitments at Suzuka in Japan, but ultimately that went for naught as the races were canceled due to a typhoon.

Kvyat qualified 12th, was promoted to 11th by way of grid penalties and ended 10th, scoring a point for only the third race this year and first time since coming ninth in the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

It was a weekend where he would have been expected to outdo Hartley, and did so, but not by a massive margin. And he was already coming in with a track time disadvantage, losing out in FP1 as Indonesian Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael ran in his chassis.

As it was, he rated his weekend performance highly and didn’t do his chances of staying in the car any harm.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Kvyat said, “Yeah, it was a perfect race. I did everything well. Brought the points home. It was close with (Felipe) Massa.

“We had some energy release issues on the engine. But it was a massive weekend. It was great. I really enjoyed myself. It was a good job by the team to keep it together with very limited running.

Hartley built up confidence throughout the weekend as he learned the car, the Pirelli tires and how an F1 race races versus an endurance race that he’d been used to doing for several years.

Having coming into the weekend with no expectations and just taking the race session-by-session, he felt good at the end of it.

“There’s so many little things to reflect on,” he told NBCSN. “I’ll put the eyes at rest and process it all. I did the standing start and it wasn’t the best… it’s been a long time.

“But yeah, (you’re learning) in terms of following in traffic, what 20 laps on these tires means, how much you can push it. I’m pretty satisfied. The pace was pretty strong. I made the mistake of getting passed by (Lance) Stroll. I couldn’t pass him back. Lots of challenges. I hope I can get another shot at it.

“Up until this moment… I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to do the job. I’m really relaxed. Now there might be some conversations.”

Toro Rosso figures to reveal its Mexican Grand Prix driver lineup early this week.