After a rather unmemorable start to his 2019 season, Clint Bowyer has turned up the heat in the last four Cup races, earning four straight top-10 finishes.
The last three have seen the Stewart-Haas Racing driver in the mix for a win, only to have it slip away.
Saturday night at Richmond Raceway, Bowyer hounded eventual race winner Martin Truex Jr. for much of the final 35 laps
But a tight car and late brush with the wall caused his No. 14 Ford to fall prey to Joey Logano with four laps left as Bowyer settled for a third-place finish.
“This place is a challenging race track,” Bowyer told Fox Sports afterwards. “I got to (Truex) and couldn’t keep the nose with the air on it and it got really tight. As I continued running in his wake, I got tighter and tighter, and all of a sudden Joey ran us down.
“Next thing you know, he’s on the outside of you and the rest is history.”
Two of Bowyer’s 10 Cup wins have come at the .750-mile track and Saturday’s result is his first top five there since the fall 2014 race.
“It is frustrating,” Bowyer said. “In hopes of still trying to win the race I needed to stay on the bottom and hope that (Truex) slipped up in traffic or something. Next thing you know I lost my nose down there and (Logano) got to the outside. If I didn’t give up that spot (Kevin Harvick) was gonna get me too. You had to give up one to save one.”
Bowyer was one of two SHR drivers to place in the top five, with pole-sitter Harvick following him in fourth.
Harvick was in the top 10 most of the night and placed in the top five in all three stages, like Bowyer.
It was strong showing after Harvick placed 13th last week at Bristol, a result of penalties for inspection failures that sent him four laps down to start the race.
Harvick has placed in the top 10 in seven of the nine races this year. His four top-five finishes this year have all been in fourth place.
“I like nights like this when we can take a car that is a seventh to ninth-place car and adjust on it and make it so it is capable of contending at the end,” Harvick said. “We ran those guys down but we just ran out of time. I am proud of everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford for hanging in there and fighting and we had another good night on pit road. It was a solid night.”