Already annoyed by having played a role in an earlier incident that took out Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer was further agitated by what he saw as an unnecessary debris caution with six laps remaining in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver had pitted for two tires under an earlier caution at Lap 361 and was homing in on Brad Keselowski for third when the debris yellow struck.
Bowyer would hang on for a fourth-place finish on the older tires, picking up his second Top-5 finish of the year. However, that didn’t keep him from being frustrated.
“The [two-tire] strategy had us in the contingent to win the race, but unfortunately these cautions keep coming out,” Bowyer told NASCAR.com after the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.
“We’ve gotta figure something out. You know, that’s about five or six weeks in a row that a mysterious debris caution comes out, and then, lo-and-behold, right after they throw that – wouldn’t you know it – actual debris is on the race track when they could throw it for real.”
He also added that if NASCAR was going to throw such cautions late, then there should be “a rule to where everybody can know about it and strategize around it and a guy can go have a beer in the stands or something.”
Bowyer quickly moved into the Top 5 in the first quarter of the race, but on Lap 124, he moved up in an apparent pass of Busch and made contact with him instead.
Busch went into the outside wall off of Turn 4 and the damage was too much for him to continue. After briefly staying on the track to possibly retaliate against Bowyer, Busch heeded crew chief Dave Rogers’ pleas and went to the garage.
Bowyer also sustained damage in the incident and was knocked back to 24th after pit road repairs. Luckily for him, his car remained stout enough to move back into the Top 10 with 100 laps to go.
He would claim the lead thanks to the two-tire stop on Lap 361 but couldn’t hold it against eventual winner Jimmie Johnson and his fresher tires.
Still, Bowyer held out hope that his fuel mileage would enable him to perhaps steal a win – until the yellow flew with six to go.
“I was saving a lot of fuel and [crew chief Brian] Pattie did a good job of strategizing to be there for the end and unfortunately another debris caution comes out and forces everybody to figure it out from there,” he said.
“Kind of hard to strategize around these races when the facts change.”