However, the driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was upset the race fans weren’t at Bristol Motor Speedway to see an action-packed race, which included 21 lead changes and 17 caution periods for 102 laps.
“Starting to bother me. We're starting to see other racing, people in the stands, everything else,” Bowyer said. “This is such a special place. When you pull in here, you know all hell’s going to break loose. You don't know where it's coming from, where it's going to be, how it's going to be, who is going to be the benefactor, who is going to leave pissed off.
“That's short-track racing at its best. Nobody does it better than Bristol.”
Bowyer spent most of Sunday frustrated with his car’s lack of performance. His mood changed in the late going thanks to a pit stop for new tires, and he rallied from 10th on the final restart. He went from fifth to second with two laps to go when a crash involving leaders Chase Elliott and Joey Logano moved him behind race winner Brad Keselowski.
“We struggled pretty bad with our setup,” Bowyer said. “It was floating the nose really bad up off the corner all day long. I could gain and make some ground up in the center of the corner in, and in the middle, but if I had to pass somebody and turn underneath of them I didn’t have the real estate. I couldn’t get my front end to turn at all.”
SOLID RUN FOR SEVEN-TIME
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson finished third. He also benefited from the Elliott-Logano crash, though his No. 48 Chevrolet ran in the top five most of the race.
“We had a really competitive car today and it felt good to mix it up,” Johnson said. “Hats off to this racing team and all of Hendrick Motorsports. We had four fast cars here today. We had more of a long-run car. The one long run we had, I drove to second and was putting pressure on Kyle (Busch). After that, it was all short runs.”
HARVICK STREAK ENDS
Kevin Harvick had his streak of 11 straight top-10 finishes dating to last season end with an 11th-place finish.
The driver of the No. 4 SHR Ford still leads the NASCAR Cup Series points standings, up 331-317 over Logano. Harvick also has a win at Darlington, which should qualify him for the NASCAR playoffs.
Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has seven straight top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series dating to the 2019 season finale. He finished ninth in the series’ most recent race at Charlotte. Burton, son of 21-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton, captured his first career win at California’s Auto Club Speedway in February.
Jesse Little, driver of the No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series, has local ties. His mother, Donna, is a Dobyns-Bennett alum, and some of his family still lives in the Model City. Fittingly, Visit Kingsport is serving as his car’s primary sponsor for Monday night’s Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco.