Clint Bowyer showed how excited he was to win this past weekend at Martinsville Speedway. So excited, he started his burnout in Turn 3. That desire probably came from anticipation, having to wait to race until Monday, due to a snowstorm that hit the track Saturday. Although, the excitement of victory was probably even more prevalent to the Stewart-Haas Racing driver because it was his first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the fall race at Charlotte in 2012, 190 races ago. Bowyer sure proved how badly he wanted to win, leading a race-high 215 laps in the STP 500. Bowyer’s win on Monday gave SHR four wins in the first six races. Bowyer’s teammate, Kevin Harvick won three-in-a-row, at Atlanta, Las Vegas and ISM Raceway in Phoenix, to begin the season.
Bowyer, who finished 1.146 seconds ahead of Kyle Bush, said his team learning last year is a part of what helped lead to victory on Monday.
“We learned last year,” Bowyer said. “Obviously, Harvick came on strong at the end of last year, but it was a learning year for our team and the 14 bunch. It was just time.”
Bowyer was confident before the race. Bowyer even expressed that to his son as they drove to the speedway.
“For whatever reason, it felt right driving up here,” Bowyer said. “I told him (Cash) this morning, I was like, ‘Dammit, we’ve got to get a picture in Victory Lane.”
Bowyer took the lead from eventual third-place finisher Ryan Blaney, who led 145 laps, on Lap 285.
The only caution of the day for an incident came on Lap 385, and resulted from Turn 2 contact between Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon.
Bowyer said it took him a while to learn about the challenging track. Monday’s finish gave Bowyer his sixth Top-5 in 25 starts at the paper-clip shaped track.
“This place is an acquired taste,” Bowyer said. “When I first got here I was a duck out of water, just like everybody else that starts here at first. I learned from Jimmie Johnson and learned from Jeff Gordon, sometimes the hard way, but nonetheless I learned over the years and finally put it to good use.” “To keep Kyle Busch, one of the best in the business, behind you in those closing laps, the nerves were through the roof. It’s unbelievable how it all came true,” Bowyer said.
Martin Truex Jr. ended the day in fourth. Harvick finished fifth, after a run-in with 12th place finisher, Denny Hamlin midway through the race. Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, AJ Allmendinger, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski completed the Top-10.
Jimmie Johnson, who leads active drivers with nine victories at Martinsville, finished 15th on Monday, a lap down.
Hamlin won the first stage, while Blaney claimed the second green-white checkered flag at the end of Stage 2.
The series now takes a break for the Easter holiday before returning to the track at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 8th.
Take a listen to Episode 6 of Track Talk, below.