It may have been inadvertent, but Clint Bowyer channeled the late Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra after Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
Berra was known for many sayings, including “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
For Bowyer to get to the “over” point – a second-place finish – he went on a wild ride, tearing up his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford by making contact with a number of drivers, as well as spinning out at one point.
“You’re not down and out until you’re out,” Bowyer quipped with a Yogi-like explanation, tying his season-best finish (Bristol in April) and earned his third top-five of 2017.
Despite his Ford looking like it been through a demolition derby, it still held together to help deliver a 1-2 Stewart-Haas Racing finish with race winner Kevin Harvick.
“You run over them and you don’t mean to; you get frustrated and get a little bit farther behind and a little bit farther behind,” Bowyer said of his car’s condition.
Among the incidents Bowyer was involved in was a tangle with pole sitter Kyle Larson and A.J. Allmendinger.
“I saw (Larson) check up and I get into him, and I was thinking, ‘Well, we’ll both survive this,’” Bowyer said. “And then all of a sudden (Allmendinger) was coming through him and I smoked him and hurt the left front.
“We were fast all weekend. With clean air and a long run, that’s always my strong suit.”
The key to Bowyer’s strong finish was a long run leading to the checkered flag.
“Thank God we got a long run there, I was out of tires,” Bowyer said. “By the time I got done tearing the hell out of my car, I was out of tires.
“Those stages, you know, I mean, obviously this is the first crack at it. That’s what lends to tore-up race cars. It’s such a short stage, there was some technical strategy that you’ve got to try to play and get track position, and then all of a sudden you’re on the bad side of tires trying to hold guys off and you’re blocking.”
In 12 starts on the 1.99-mile road course, he has one win, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
“You know, it’s just patience and try to take care of my stuff,” Bowyer said when asked about the key to his success at Sonoma. “I just do all my normal stuff that’s always gotten me to be good out here.
“And thank God I got that long run and was able to lean on some of my expertise here, if there is any, just taking care of my stuff and babying it and not spinning the tires and being good on the end back of a run.”
Now that Harvick has broken through for his first win of the season, and teammate Kurt Busch won the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowyer said his time to win is at hand.
“Let’s face it, yeah, we’ve got to win,“ Bowyer said. “We need a win in a big way, and today would have been a great win.
“But after everything that happened, I mean, to get second place is, I guess, really good, as a matter of fact.”