FORT WORTH, Texas -- Clint Bowyer has bittersweet memories
of his NASCAR Busch Series debut in Texas last year.
Things started well when he qualified sixth. But Bowyer's first
race for Richard Childress ended with his beat-up car stalled in
the second turn, 106 laps off the pace in 36th place when Matt
Kenseth crossed the finish line.
"I haven't forgotten about that by any means,'' Bowyer said
No matter how good things are going this season.
Back in Texas for the O'Reilly 300 on Saturday, Bowyer is now a
full-time Busch driver and third in points. Rookies Carl Edwards
and Reed Sorenson are 1-2 in the standings, and fourth is Kevin
Harvick, with whom Bowyer split driving duties last year.
"It's a huge step. I wasn't ready for a full-time deal last
year,'' Bowyer said. "The race schedule Richard had for me was the
perfect stepping stone. ... I felt I was ready (in 2005), and
coming out of the box, our results are showing.''
Bowyer has two top-five finishes and two other top 10s through
seven races, while completing all 1,234 laps.
But his streak of four straight top-five starts will end when Bowyer
rolls off from the 29th spot Saturday -- the next time the Busch
cars will be on the 1½-mile track after qualifying Thursday.
Shane Hmiel earned his fourth career Busch pole with a
qualifying lap of 189.840 mph. Defending series champion Martin
Truex Jr. (189.640 mph) will also start from the front row in a
Edwards, among the drivers also running Sunday in the Nextel Cup
race at Texas, will start third in the Busch race.
Even with his success, Bowyer has been overshadowed.
Edwards got his first Nextel Cup and Busch wins the same weekend
last month in Atlanta for Roush Racing. Sorenson, the 19-year-old
driver for Chip Ganassi, has a win and a third-place finish the
last two races.
"Keep plugging away here and get us a win, and they'll start
recognizing us,'' Bowyer said. "When they don't talk about you, it
just makes you want to race harder and make them talk about you.''
Away from the track, Bowyer is never far from his car owner. The
25-year-old driver lives across the street from Childress in North
"We had a party one time over at my house, and Kevin and I
called him pretty late,'' Bowyer said. "He informed me the next
morning that wouldn't happen again.''
Childress would probably make an exception for a party to
celebrate winning a race.
Bowyer began racing at age 5, and had more than 200 motocross
wins over nine years. In 2002, he won NASCAR Dodge weekly series
championships at two tracks -- winning 10 of 19 races, with eight
other top-five finishes at one of them.
Bowyer made 17 Busch starts last season, and finished in the top
10 seven times. Still, the adjustment has been tougher than
"You go from winning 65, 70 percent of the races you're in to I
haven't won one yet. It's tough and it'll work on you hard,'' he
said. "We just need to get that first win and keep this momentum
going to help us out through the year.''