Last night, Clint Bowyer was hoping to cap off what had been a stellar week for him off the track with a victory in front of his fellow Kansans.
In the days leading into the 5-Hour Energy 400, the Emporia, Kansas native not only earned himself a multi-year extension with Michael Waltrip Racing but also found out that he and his wife, Lorra, were to become parents in the fall.
And it seemed that he had another good omen for Saturday as his mother was brought in to wave the green flag for the race.
But things went poorly instead for Bowyer, who finished three laps down in 23rd place.
“Well, that was disappointing and certainly not how I wanted to finish the race at my home track,” Bowyer said in a brief post-race statement.
“We just couldn’t seem to get the handling right tonight on our No.15 Cherry 5-hour Energy Toyota. Just a disappointing end to a great week.”
Starting 23rd, Bowyer made early headway and moved into the Top 15. But while battling Marcos Ambrose on Lap 47, Bowyer got loose off of Turn 2 and spun out down the backstretch.
Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were able to evade Bowyer, who came to a stop without hitting anything. However, that incident would put him two laps down to the leaders and he was rendered a non-factor for the rest of the 267-lap event.
Bowyer will now shift focus to the Sprint Showdown on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The top two finishers in the Showdown will move on the Sprint All-Star Race the next night.
Another “local” driver, Jamie McMurray, will also look to bounce back on All-Star Weekend after a tough night in the Heartland.
McMurray, who hails from Joplin, Missouri and considers Kansas his home track on the Sprint Cup circuit, went into the Turn 3 wall hard on Lap 149.
Running fourth at the time, McMurray’s car quickly caught on fire after the impact. When it came to a stop on pit road, some of his crewmates on the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team helped their driver get out of the smoking Chevrolet.
“I’m not 100% sure what happened,” said McMurray, who was credited with 39th place. “I entered Turn 3 and heard a small pop, then just lost all the steering and got into the fence and knocked the oil-lines off and had a little fire.
“Not sure, because we didn’t have any tire issues all weekend. So, not sure if it was a bad tire or if we ran over something, but a disappointing end to a really strong run for our McDonald’s Chevy.”