Clint Bowyer focused on deer?

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Clint Bowyer, third place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, joked that he was still thinking about a big deer that he wasn't able to get over this weekend while hunting in Kansas.

Sounds like a focus issue, Clint.

"Focus is a huge problem for me anyway," Bowyer said, chuckling. "I woke up thinking about that deer. That deer yesterday was huge. It was huge."

No, Bowyer didn't shoot the deer.

"It was on the wrong side of the fence," Bowyer said. "I needed it on the other side of the fence. If it's on the wrong side of the fence, you'll get shot for things like that in Kansas."

Bowyer did, eventually, start talking about racing. His fifth-place finish combined with Denny Hamlin's struggles at Martinsville has him at third place in the standings. But Bowyer is 24 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and 22 back of Brad Keselowski. There's talk that this has become a two-man race and Bowyer knows he needs some help to get even closer to the top. So what needs to happen for him to claim this championship?

"Jimmie wasn’t in New York when Sandy hit. He was win Charlotte, so he made it (to Texas for the race)," Bowyer said. "So scratch that from teh list of ideas that I could possibly when this championship. A hit-man is out of the order. He rides his bicycle a lot, maybe he'd blow his knee out -- not career-ending, but painful enough to keep him out of the car.

"You’ve got to beat him. It’s a challenge to try to outrun him. We saw in it in Kasnas. You think, 'Well they’ve stubbed their toe now,' and they have a hell of a band-aid and they finish right behind us."

Bowyer does feel he's got some confidence at 1.5-mile ovals thanks to his win in Charlotte a few weeks ago. That same car was unloaded at TMS on Friday with the team hoping they've got the right setup to win on Sunday. Bowyer noted he has run better at TMS in the fall races. He was ninth in last year's AAA Texas 500 and had top-10 finishes in last four November races at TMS, including a four-place showing in 2008. He was the runner-up in the spring race in 2011.

"We need to win this weekend," Bowyer said. "We need to answer the call and get ourselves back in the race."