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.”