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Gamble Pays Off, Bowyer Steals Chase Opener At New Hampshire

- Justin St. Louis on 19 Sep 2010

Clint Bowyer and team celebrate their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory on the frontstretch at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)PHOTO: Clint Bowyer and team celebrate their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory on the frontstretch at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

Sylvania 300 weekend coverage presented by New England Dirt Track Championships and Subway of VT/NH

LOUDON, N.H. -- Clint Bowyer was left in a bit of a bind at the end of Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He had the dominant car, leading more than half of the race, and he was on the verge of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in two years.

But not having seen pit road in nearly 90 laps, Bowyer had to conserve fuel and was forced to let Tony Stewart lead. Stewart, though, was in the same pit cycle and was in danger of running out of fuel in his own car. Bowyer’s crew chief, Shane Wilson -- as well as team owner Richard Childress and spotter Mike Dillon -- urged Bowyer to slow down, save fuel, and hope that Stewart fell out.

And with two laps to go, that’s exactly what happened.

Stewart coasted out of the fourth turn coming to the white flag, his engine fuel-starved and silent, allowing Bowyer’s No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet to cruise past and take the lead.

The next time the two cars met, Stewart’s was limping across the finish line in 24th place, while Bowyer’s billowed smoke from its rear tires, its driver celebrating not only an important victory, but a brilliant gamble.

“They were kind of taking their turns telling me to let off,” laughed Bowyer, of Emporia, Kansas. “I don’t think they wanted me to run out.”

The victory was reminiscent of Bowyer’s first career victory in 2007, which, like Sunday’s win, came in the first race of that year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire. It was Bowyer’s third career win on the series and the first for South Royalton, Vt.-native Wilson.

The outside polesitter, Bowyer first broke into the lead on lap 29. He led a total of six times for 177 laps and was at no point in the race lower than fourth place. Point leader Denny Hamlin recovered from a spin with 85 laps remaining to finish second ahead of Jamie McMurray. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., drove from 32nd at the start to finish fourth, and Kevin Harvick was fifth.

Jeff Gordon was sixth, followed by David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, and Sam Hornish, Jr., who earned his first top-ten finish of the season. Chase contender Jeff Burton was running inside the top-five when his car ran out of fuel in the final corner; he finished 15th.

Four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson was involved in two incidents in the race and finished 25th, the first car one lap down. Only five of the twelve Chase contenders finished inside the top ten.

SEASON OPENERS

ACT LATE MODEL TOUR
Feb. 13/14, 2011
New Smyrna Speedway
New Smyrna Beach, FL

MODIFIED RACING SERIES
March 27, 2011
Waterford Speedbowl
Waterford, CT

PASS NORTH SUPER LATE MODELS
April 30, 2011
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway
Scarborough, ME

SPRINT CARS OF NEW ENGLAND
2011 Schedule TBA

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