The last victory for Clint Bowyer before Monday at Martinsville Speedway came at a drastically different time in his career. The 2012 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked his third win of the season and kept him in the midst of a championship battle.
While he ultimately finished runner-up in the standings, it seemed to place him on a path towards stardom in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
However, the next four years played out unexpectedly as Bowyer failed to win a race, suffered the effects of a cheating scandal that derailed and ultimately led to the closure of Michael Waltrip Racing, and only made the Playoffs twice.
Joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 marked a new beginning for the 38-year-old as he once again competed in equipment capable of performing well and proved it with three runner-up finishes.
While he didn’t break through for victory, changing organizations laid the groundwork for a comeback.
Harvick won five races and took home the championship in his first season at SHR after leaving his longtime home of Richard Childress Racing.
Truex Jr. didn’t ultimately decide to change teams, but when NAPA Auto Parts parted ways with MWR following the Richmond scandal, it left him without a ride before a new opportunity at Furniture Row Racing emerged.
After a rough 2014, Truex Jr. found his footing in 2015 and has made his presence known ever since, becoming one of the most dominant drivers in the garage and winning the championship last season.
Now Bowyer will look to follow in their footsteps, and his performance en route to victory at Martinsville showed that he has the potential to rise similarly.
It’s an ideal time for Bowyer to flourish as SHR continues to experience unprecedented success. The organization has won all but two races in 2018 and nearly won the DAYTONA 500 with Aric Almirola before a last-lap crash.
Bowyer showed signs of his 2012 self in the STP 500 and now has the confidence to match his potential, which may lead to a title run with continued dominance throughout the remainder of the regular season.
“This is a year that’s starting to shape up to where I feel like I’m accustomed to, way back when when I was confident that we were going to go to the end of the year and we were going to compete for a championship,” Bowyer said.
Truex Jr. has been the most prolific breakout star in recent years, but Bowyer is now in a prime position to inherit that role.
While one race can’t determine the future, Bowyer sent a statement at Martinsville and could be dangerous by competing at this level moving forward.
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