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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Success for Bowyer in Richmond Could Defeat Scandal Setback

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Richmond International Raceway is one of the most significant tracks in Clint Bowyer’s career. It has been a place of triumph and disappointment, now set to represent a possible resurgence.

The Kansas native’s two victories at the short-track include his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in May 2008 and his second of three wins from his breakout season in 2012 as he won the September event.

His 12 top-10 finishes mark the second-most at any stop on the schedule, trailing Martinsville. A 12.8 average finish is his third best on all tracks, behind Dover and Sonoma.

This success shows that he favors the style of racing Richmond presents which continues to make him a threat in both races every year. However, scandalous conduct has haunted Bowyer since the Federated Auto Parts 400 there on September 7, 2013.

Michael Waltrip Racing’s plan to manipulate the outcome of the race and place both of its cars in the playoffs backfired in the regular season finale. Bowyer spun with less than ten laps remaining, following questionable radio communication. The ensuing caution helped former teammate Martin Truex Jr. earn a spot in the Chase.

The fallout included Truex Jr. losing his playoff spot and the largest penalty in NASCAR history being handed down to MWR. A $100,000 fine, along with indefinite personnel suspensions, ultimately contributed to organization closing its doors.

It sent Bowyer’s career on a downward trajectory for the next three-plus years as he performed poorly and lost his ride when MWR shut down in 2015. He then competed for HScott Motorsports last season where the struggles continued.

However, Bowyer is again moving forward in a positive direction for the first time since the Richmond scandal unfolded.

Joining Stewart-Haas Racing has revived the 37-year-old’s career, allowing Bowyer to regain his confidence behind the wheel, and put himself back in contention to score wins.

A second-place finish at Bristol demonstrated the No. 14 Ford team’s strength after eight races and four top-10 finishes this season. It marked his best performance since a runner-up result in April 2013 at Richmond.

Bowyer’s recent success and a return to Richmond offers an opportunity to redefine his history at the track and compete for a third victory.

Conquering the track where his struggles began nearly four years ago would mark a full circle recovery and reaffirm his position as one of the most competitive drivers this season.

A year ago after running 33rd in the Toyota Owners 400, performing this well and having the opportunity to turn his career around at Richmond seemed like an unrealistic scenario. Now following one of his best starts to a season through 12 full-time years, Bowyer will have victory within his reach.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.