Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – KANSAS CITY, KS – To say Clint Bowyer was annoyed at the end of Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway is putting it mildly.
In the two-lap overtime shootout that decided the race, Bowyer had a strong run through the tri-oval coming to the white flag, but as Bowyer’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford flashed across the start/finish line, Erik Jones steered his No. 20 Toyota up the track and blocked Bowyer’s progress.
Bowyer could have driven through the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s car, but he broke momentum, essentially giving Jones a break, rather than wrecking him. That kindness, however, cost Bowyer positions at the finish.
“We should have finished second,” said Bowyer, who had to settle for fifth. “I had a huge run on both those guys (Jones and race runner-up Alex Bowman), but that kid, I guess he was willing to wreck himself to hold the position …
“Yeah, that wasn’t very smart. If it had been another scenario where I would have had some room, I would have just turned him in front of the whole field, and he would be back there wishing he wouldn’t have done that. Oh, well.”
ERIK JONES HAS NO REGRETS ABOUT PROTECTING HIS POSITION
Though Clint Bowyer had a few choice words for Erik Jones after the race, Jones wasn’t about to surrender his position after the final restart, even if it meant blocking Bowyer’s run.
As it was, with his third-place run, Jones matched his best finish of the season, and he was unapologetic about blocking Bowyer to start the final lap.
“I think it was just racing,” Jones said. “We’re racing hard, and I think this (competition) package really kind of leads into a lot of blocking and a lot of protecting your position.
“And we’re taking the white flag. I’m not going to give up a lane and give up two, three, four spots if he would have gotten to the inside. Besides that, the DeWalt Camry was good. We had a car that could have won. We just got in the wrong spot at the end of the race, and we weren’t able to capitalize on it.”
Jones’ third-place performance followed a sixth on Monday at Dover.
“We’ll keep moving forward,” he said. “It’s been two good weeks. This was the best car we’ve had in a long time—since Texas (where Jones finished fourth on March 31)—and it’s nice to be up in contention and have that shot.”
CHEVROLETS MAKE STRONG SHOWING IN KANSAS NIGHT RACE
When the curtain fell on Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway, seven Chevrolets—starting with runner-up Alex Bowman—were scored in the top 10, a high-water mark for the manufacturer this season.
Stage 2 winner Chase Elliott ran fourth and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, capped a late-race charge with a sixth-place result.
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson came home seventh and eighth, respectively, and Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher were ninth and 10th. It was the second Cup start for Reddick.
For Buescher, it was the second top 10 of the year and his best run since finishing ninth at Atlanta in February.
Race winner Brad Keselowski took note of the collective results of the Chevys and of Bowman’s third straight second-place run.
“Yeah, the 88 (Bowman) the last two weeks has looked very, very strong,” Keselowski said. “He looked when I was behind him here today, very, very strong. I think they’re definitely starting to hit their stride, for sure, and we can’t let our guard down.”