It may not be a points race win, but for Clint Bowyer, a win is a win after a year-long drought since his last regular season triumph in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Bowyer took the lead twice in Friday night’s Sprint Showdown, once from AJ Allmendinger on Lap 19 and again past Allmendinger and Austin Dillon on Lap 24 to take the overall lead after an intermission between the two 20-lap segments.
At that intermission, Bowyer opted to take four tires while some of the other cars ahead of him only took two. Once he got into the lead, he stretched his lead by more than two seconds to take the win and advance into Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race.
Allmendinger wasn’t challenged for second and will also advance.
Casey Mears finished third ahead of Richmond sparring partner Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola. Polesitter Austin Dillon finished eighth.
Meanwhile on the strength of the Dogecoin-supported effort, Josh Wise won the Fan Vote and from 18th, will advance in as well.
At the halfway mark, Bowyer led Allmendinger as well. Bowyer took the lead from Allmendinger with an inside move of Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 19. Polesitter Dillon fell to third with Paul Menard fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The rest of the top 10 was Mears, Ambrose, Kyle Larson, Danica Patrick and Almirola.
The “holy cow!” moment of the race occurred in the early laps when Stenhouse Jr. contacted Ambrose in Turns 1 and 2. Ambrose slid his car through the turns, and while putting up a smoke show, managed to save the car without spinning or contacting anyone else. Ambrose made it back to seventh by the end of the first 20-lap segment.
At the intermission, most of the field pitted with Dillon emerging at the head of those coming in. He, Menard, Allmendinger and Patrick took two tires with everyone from there on back taking four.