FORT WORTH, Texas Clint Bowyer figures he's in an ideal position with three races left in NASCAR's Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.
All the attention heading into today's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is focused on series leader Jeff Gordon and runner-up Jimmie Johnson, just nine points off the pace.
Virtually everyone has conceded the title to four-time champion Gordon or reigning champion Johnson. That's fine with the third-place Bowyer.
"Jimmie and Jeff, they deserve it," said Bowyer, almost an afterthought despite being within striking distance of the lead, 111 points behind Gordon after the first seven races of the Chase.
"You just go out and try and beat them," Bowyer said. "If you can, you can and if you can't, you can't. You can't wreck your race car trying to do something that is not there. You have got to take what it is going to give you and do the best you can, if it is meant to be, it is meant to be."
That attitude is what has allowed Bowyer, a second-year Cup regular, to turn into this season's biggest surprise.
He made it into the 12-man Chase, along with fellow Richard Childress Racing drivers Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton and has outshone his better-known teammates, who are seventh and eighth in the points.
A lot has changed for the 28-year-old driver from Kansas since he began the stock car postseason as the only Chase driver without a win and with few expectations. That changed when he won the Chase opener at New Hampshire.
"Our expectations have changed a lot since the start of the Chase," Bowyer said. "You go from wondering if you can be a part of it, to winning your first race in the Chase, to wanting to go on and win the championship.
"Race car drivers are greedy ... and we are all guilty of it. It is funny. I didn't have a race win, was hoping I could (get) to the top 10 in the points so I could go to the (awards) banquet. Then we win the first race of the Chase and everything changed."
Gordon isn't counting Bowyer out."He and his team have done a great job and, as long as he is mathematically in it, we can't count him out," Gordon said. "Obviously, most of the attention is on our team and Jimmie's, but that doesn't mean Bowyer is out of it. At this point, none of us can afford a big mistake or a bad day."
Harvick wins race; Edwards takes title
FORT WORTH, Texas Kevin Harvick won another race and runaway points leader Carl Edwards finally wrapped up his first NASCAR Busch Series championship Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.Edwards, who built a lead of more than 800 points in the first half of the season, stumbled through the second half of the year before putting away the title with an 11th-place run in the O'Reilly Challenge. He leads runner-up David Reutimann by an insurmountable 552 points with two races to go.
1. Jeff Gordon 6,201
2. Jimmie Johnson 6,192
3. Clint Bowyer 6,090
4. Carl Edwards 5,940
5. Tony Stewart 5,879
6. Kyle Busch 5,873
7. Kevin Harvick 5,809
8. Jeff Burton 5,801
9. Kurt Busch 5,782
10. Denny Hamlin 5,777
11. Matt Kenseth 5,753
12. Martin Truex, Jr. 5,688