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.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.