All New Is Not All Good for RCR’s Bowyer
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Indianapolis – It’s a new Clint Bowyer who is turning laps in the Sprint Cup Series this season. New number on his car, new sponsors on the hood and quarterpanels, and new color on the driver suit.
And that’s all cool.
What is not so cool is Bowyer’s new place in the Sprint Cup point standings. Not cool because unless he and his Richard Childress Racing team can pull together a bunch of top-10 finishes, Bowyer’s two-year run of participation in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship may come to an end this season.
Bowyer, standing in his team’s hauler in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, reluctantly nods his head in agreement as all that is brought up for discussion.
“Yeah, it’s been tough,” Bowyer says. “And we just need to fix it.”
Bowyer is 15th in points right now. He has yet to win a race this year.
The good news is he is just 126 points out of the 12th and final Chase berth and there are six races left before the playoff starts.
But the fact is, Bowyer and his team and the RCR operation in general are not fast right now.
And the team which a year ago had three drivers in the Chase will be extremely lucky to get one in this year.
Great question, Bowyer said.
If you’re looking for a simple answer, the ban on testing this year might be a good place to start.
“Yeah, testing, that is part of the problem,” Bowyer said. “It just caught us a little off guard.”
In a way, the 2009 season has been defined by how teams have dealt with the testing situation. There are teams that have adapted well to the ban and there are teams that have not.
Those that have had the most success are the ones that have adapted best.
And RCR, appears to be on the wrong side of that equation.
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 RCR Chevrolet, agreed with teammate Bowyer on that one.
“I think the testing ban has been a big negative for us,” Burton said. “Now that’s not NASCAR’s fault. That’s our fault. We need to be quick enough on our feet where NASCAR makes a change we’re not sitting there holding the bag. The reality of it is if you look at the number of times the No. 31 tested last year, the number of times that the No. 29 tested last year I would venture to say that as an individual team we tested more than most.
“I’m not aware of a team that tested more than us. We received a lot of benefit from that. We weren’t testing because we just wanted to be at the race track, we were testing because it was effective. Now that we haven’t been able to test, I think that’s hurt us some. But that’s our fault. We’ve got to adapt our program so we don’t have to go test to be successful.”
Bowyer said there are no simple answers to why the team is in a down cycle this year. That is, do not just blame it on the testing ban.
It is more everything than just one thing.
Right again, Burton said.
“It’s been my experience that when you’re running well it’s not because of one thing and when you’re running poorly it’s not because of one thing,” Burton said. “Our preparation going into this year was wrong. We didn’t know it was wrong but obviously we did some things wrong getting ready and that’s showing up right now.”
Burton is proably toast when it comes to the Chase. He is 17th in points and jumping past five drivers in six races is just too much to ask no matter how fast RCR get its cars moving.
Bowyer, however, is holding out hope. He knows he will need help in addition to fast cars, but making up 212 points is possible.
“We hope to hit our stride and hit the Chase,” he said.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment