By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Things may finally be looking up for Clint Bowyer in 2016. For the first time this season, Bowyer, driver of the 5-hour ENGERY Chevrolet, earned a top 10 finish after finishing in eighth in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. This is his first top 10 since the Talladega Chase race last year, 13 races ago.
The weekend did not start out as bright as it ended for Bowyer as he qualified 36th. In the three practices for the Sprint Cup Series, Bowyer could not post a time better than 32nd fastest.
The race started like most others have this season for Bowyer, as he struggled in the back of the pack. For the first 200 laps, Bowyer sat outside the top 30, hoping his luck would change. On lap 219, Bowyer’s luck began to change as he received the free pass under the sixth caution of the race.
Bowyer finally broke into the top 25 after 275 laps. However, Bowyer slipped back out of the top 25, into 27th by lap 300. Fortunately for Bowyer, another caution allowed him to make another push forward.
By the 10th caution of the day on lap 350, Bowyer broke into the top 20 on the running order. Slowly, Bowyer began to pick his way forward, climbing to up 17th by lap 375. With 100 laps to go, Bowyer sat in 16th, just outside the top 15. Bowyer hovered around the top 15 for the next 50 laps.
With just 25 laps to go, Bowyer had finally worked his way up to the 12th position. After staying out of trouble for the final two cautions, Bowyer found himself inside the top 10 on the final restart. When the checkered flag waved, Bowyer found himself in the eighth position.
After the race, Bowyer told the media, “It was a good finish and I’m proud of the finish. We had some luck which helped but proud of the result and it was good that the 5-hour ENERGY Chevrolet was able to get a top 10 today.”
The eighth place finish moves Bowyer up three spots in the Cup Series points standings to the 29th position. The eighth place finish is also refreshing for Bowyer, who until this weekend, had yet to post a top 15 finishing, with a season best finish of 18th at Fontana, three races ago.
Bowyer and his HScott Motorsports team now look forward to next weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway, hoping to ride the momentum from their top 10 finish.