By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Last lap frustration was clear from Clint Bowyer, who felt he was denied of scoring a possible runner-up finish in Saturday’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.
As race leader Brad Keselowski took the white flag, and nobody seems to catch him, the battle was now for second as Erik Jones was running in third, battling with Alex Bowman until Jones went with a sharp block on Bowyer, who was charging towards passing both competitor on the high groove.
Neither driver wrecked, but Jones’ block hindered his momentum and lost track position. While Keselowski went on his way towards his third Cup win of the season, both scored their own top-five finishes with Jones equaling a season-best third, while Bowyer wound up in fifth for his fourth top-five result this season.
Then on the cool down lap, the action shifted towards Bowyer, who made his thoughts of Jones’ block clear as day, nudging him on the driver’s side of Jones’ No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry on the backstretch.
Once both entered pit lane, Bowyer got out of his No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang and let Jones know in a civil matter that he didn’t appreciate his blocking, stating that he’s smarter than that.
Meanwhile, Jones stayed in his car during that confrontation, with only a few crew members standing behind in case it got awry.
Once Bowyer made his comments to Jones, he walked away and quickly expressed why the move was dangerous, due in most part he didn’t want to dump Jones and create a violent crash that could’ve hurt his fellow competitors.
“What are you going to do? Turn him right in front of the field and hurt him? He put me in a bad situation, and I lifted for him,” said Bowyer. “It cost me three spots right there. We should’ve finished second. Everybody knows that. It was dumb on his part.
I guess that’s what he wants is just go down and wreck in front of the field. When you get a run like that, you just don’t move up. I should’ve just wrecked him, I guess.
“That wasn’t very smart. If it had been another scenario where I would have had some room I would have just turned him in front of the whole field and he would be back there wishing he wouldn’t have done that. Oh well.”
Bowyer added that while he had a top-five run that moved him up to ninth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points, he was still disappointed after having a strong car during Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions that put him on the outside pole.
“Our Rush Trucks Center Ford was fast all weekend long. God, that pisses me off but all in all it was a struggle,” Bowyer expressed. “It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be at home. We were fast yesterday in practice and qualifying. It’s just a chaotic ending.
Moments later, Bowyer went back to his humorous ways and commented that if today’s race was the Kentucky Derby, he would’ve finished ahead of Jones.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 12, 2019
Jones’ response towards his daring move was simply hard racing, and with the package they raced, blocking was the default move to protect valuable track position.
“I think it was just racing,” Jones on the block. “We’re racing hard and this package kind of leads into a lot of blocking and a lot of protecting your position. When I take the white flag, I’m not going to give up a lane to give up two, three or four spots if he would have got to the inside.”
Had the roles been reversed, Jones would’ve felt the Bowyer, but also doesn’t want to anger drivers in the progress.
“I’d be mad if I was him, but it’s just racing,” said Jones. “It’s unfortunate. You don’t want people upset, but feelings are going to get hurt and you’ll move on and we’ll be fine next week.”
On a bright outlook, the Byron, Michigan native added that with his third top-five of the season, his first since Texas, it’ll help his cause of keeping a spot in the playoffs, as he’s had a recent share of subpar results until tonight.
“The DeWalt Camry was good. We had a car that could have won,” Jones stated. “We just got in the srong spot at the end of the race and we weren’t able to capitalize on it. We’ll keep moving forward. It’s been two good weeks. This is the best car we’ve had in a long time – really since Texas. It’s nice to be up in contention and have that shot.”
Both fierce competitors will have a shot for a $1 million dollars as they’re competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway May 18. Neither competitor have won the bragging rights event, hoping they’re the one who takes the checkered flag in one of the most chaotic races on the calendar.