After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are now going to start taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.
Finishing seventh following a memorable season – if not always for the right reasons – was Clint Bowyer…
No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
2013 Stats: Seventh Place, No Wins, 10 Top-5s, 19 Top-10s, 354 Laps Led
Average Start: 14.2
Average Finish: 11.9
Estrada Says: Between enduring a winless season and starting a sport-shaking controversy with his late spin in September at Richmond International Raceway, Bowyer probably won’t look back on this year too much. The thing is, though, he ran well over the majority of the regular season. A 35th-place finish at Fontana in March left him 13th in points, but through the summer, he was able to climb up to second in the standings behind Jimmie Johnson. With two races left in the regular season, things took a turn for the worse with engine failure at Atlanta and then a 25th-place finish to the aforementioned fateful night in Richmond. Stuck with the No. 8 seed in the Chase, Bowyer’s inability to contend for wins (his best Chase finish was a third at Martinsville) kept him from mounting a serious bid for the title.
DiZinno Says: Bowyer had a career year in 2012, finishing second in points and winning three races, so a regression was inevitable unless he took the step to the next level in 2013. Bowyer’s year was really a roller coaster of inconsistency and outside of runner-up finishes at Martinsville and Richmond in the spring, he didn’t even seem a realistic race winner. The downside, inevitably, was the Richmond regular season finale and “the spin heard ’round the world,” but Bowyer did end the year with a pair of top-fives in the last four races and an engagement just after the season ended. Already due for a rebound in 2014.