Digesting Bowyer’s win, other MIS notes

Clint Bowyer now has two Cup wins in 2018 and no doubt that feels pretty good after going winless for five years and 190 races.

The 39-year-old needs one more victory to equal his career best – his only three-win season to date came in 2012 with victories at Sonoma, Richmond and Charlotte while driving for the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing.

Overall, Bowyer’s now won at seven of the 23 tracks hosting Cup Series points races.

And he’s tied with Alabama Gang member Donnie Allison and two-time Daytona 500 champ Sterling Marlin with 10 victories. Talk about a trio …

Both wins for Bowyer this year involved races impacted by weather – the STP 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway ran in its entirety on a Monday after a snowstorm hit the region; Sunday’s race made it to lap 133 before rain returned and officials ended the race.

It was the first rain-shortened Cup win since Chris Buescher won at Pocono in 2016.

Stewart-Haas Racing, home of Bowyer and Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola, has won seven of this season’s 15 points races. That’s a high-water mark for the organization. Six wins on multiple occasions but never seven. It’s unlikely that the group is finished winning for the year.

The 1-2-3 sweep by SRH (Bowyer, Harvick, Busch) at MIS was also a first for the organization.

Some folks say no single group has swept the top 3 spots in a race since 2008 when Roush Fenway Racing did it. That was the Dover playoff race and the top three were Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

It also happened earlier that year, in Bristol, when Jeff Burton, Harvick and Bowyer finished 1-2-3 for Richard Childress Racing in the Food City 500.

And there was the Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Ricky Craven 1-2-3 finish in the 1997 Daytona 500 for Hendrick Motorsports.

So, it happens every now and then.

Ford teams led all but 12 laps Sunday. Chevrolet teams led the dozen Ford didn’t and Toyota, for just the second time this season, failed to lead a lap.

Kasey Kahne led 11 laps for Leavine Family Racing and that’s the most laps led in a race, and an entire season, since the organization debuted in 2011.

The view from afar was a bit confusing Sunday when NASCAR chose not to open pit road in an effort to end Stage 1 under green-flag conditions.

NASCAR closes pit road two laps before the end of each stage. It appeared the field was coming to what would have been two to go when Kenseth had his issue.

The caution flag waved, but the pits were closed and stayed that way until a one-lap, green-flag run was completed to end the stage. I don’t know that NASCAR has ever thrown the yellow, then closed pit road until going back to green. Maybe it’s happened before …

With stage and a playoff point up for grabs, though, I would have liked to have seen what crew chiefs would have done has NASCAR not closed pit road and left that option on the table.

As for the “split field” at the end of the race … fortunately, the issue of half the field coming to pit road and the other half staying on the track as the rain started to fall didn’t impact the finishing order.

It just looked messy. And for a race ending in the rain, that’s really not much of a surprise.

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