Perhaps cosmic payback is indeed a thing.
It might help explain why Clint Bowyer is 32nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, just seven points ahead of Michael McDowell.
Bowyer is right in the middle of a race to irrelevance, and that’s not a good thing. Bowyer is not only one of the funniest guys in the business but also a darned good driver. He has finished in the season top 10 four times during his 12-year Cup career, including a career-best second in 2012. And then there’s 2013 in Richmond, where that cosmic turn probably took place.
Bowyer spun with seven laps remaining, helping his-then Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. secure the final spot in the Chase.
It was a bogus ploy in the eyes of NASCAR (and anyone with deductive reasoning who could read the intent of those code words). NASCAR booted Truex out of the Chase and docked Bowyer 50 points (although he still qualified for the Chase).
Since then, MWR has disbanded, leaving Bowyer to fend for himself as a one-man show with HScott Motorsports. It doesn’t have the means or resources to stay competitive, leaving Bowyer on an island against the big boys on the circuit.
“I’m pretty miserable right now and I don’t aim to be that way for a year,” Bowyer told Kickin’ the Tires and Motorsport.com last week. “Here’s the thing, in the situation you’re in, yes, you want to rip the leather off the steering wheel and get mad and everything else, but it doesn’t do any good.
“And you know these guys are working ... to get you to where you are even at. It’s just they don’t have the tools that these other teams have.”
If only it were this season. Since the 2013 season, when he finished seventh, Bowyer has ranked 19th and 16th in the points standings. This season is more humbling than ever.
It will get better. Or well should, anyway. He will take Tony Stewart’s ride at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 after Stewart retires. It’s a big bump up to a super team that has seen mixed results.
Great: Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Not so great: Danica Patrick and Stewart.
“We are definitely behind a lot farther than I was ready for, but, you know, a year is a long time and I know what my future holds,” Bowyer said. “That’s the positive that keeps me going, but I won’t rest at night until I know that Harry Scott is where they need to be when I get out of the seat.”
Bowyer is owning up to his responsibilities. He’s no slacker. He is also a fine driver. But for things to run smoothly, the mix of man and machine have to work. It’s not likely ever to happen at HScott Motorsports.
Maybe this has everything to do with what happened at Richmond. Or maybe nothing at all.
Regardless, Clint Bowyer is now a backpacker, and it just seems so wrong.
Here are three things that rarely go well together: politics, religion and sports. NASCAR managed to stir all three into that combustible pot during the Duck Commander 500 in Texas this past weekend.
“All right, Texas, we got here via Bibles and guns. I’m fixin’ to pray to the one who made that possible,” Duck Commander patriarch Phil Robertson beseeched in his invocation before the race. “I pray, Father, that we put a Jesus man in the White House. Help us do that and help us all to repent, to do what is right, to love You more and to love each other.”
Cue implosion on the Internet.
Robertson managed to pull off the volatile trifecta, drawing outrage from those with more diverse viewpoints and, of course, rally cries of “amen” from supporters.
Just what NASCAR needs: another food fight in the culture wars.
NASCAR’s pre-race invocation usually calls for the safety of the drivers. Nothing wrong with that. But Robertson clearly sends a mixed message about how we should all “love each other.”
It just might want to check the message it wants to spread. Not everybody got here via “Bibles and guns.”
Stewart on hold
Stewart’s last run continues to be on pause, waiting for the first lap.
A broken back in a dune-buggy accident in the Southwest earlier this year cut short his season before it started, and he remains in rehab mode. He awaits a scan later this month to determine when he can get back to racing.
“I don’t [know my return] — not until they do the next set of scans,” Stewart said last Thursday when he was honored for raising $1.5 million for the Texas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. “The first thing they did were X-rays [in early March] just to make sure the rods and screws were in place. When we do the scans at the end of the month, then they’ll be able to have an idea exactly when it’s going to happen.”
“I feel great,” Stewart said. “I’ve been doing everything now over the last week that I’ve wanted to do. If you step off a curb wrong or step too hard, you’re definitely reminded you have these rods in your back. Other than that, I feel really well. I’m anxious to get the scans. It’s driving me crazy wanting to see what it looks like and what is the diagnosis and when they think they’re going to let me go.”