2008 Ride: No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2008 Primary Sponsor: Jack Daniel’s
2008 Owner: Richard Childress
2008 Crew Chief: Gil Martin
Stats: 36 races, 1 win, 7 top fives, 17 top 10s, fifth in points
High Point: It was another impressive season for the young Kansas native, who burst onto the scene with a third-place points finish in 2007. His 2008 campaign on the Cup side was nearly as successful, finishing fifth in the final standings, but the high point of Clint Bowyer’s season undoubtedly came at Homestead, where he won the Nationwide Series drivers’ title by a mere 21 points over 2007 champion Carl Edwards.
Bowyer had a strong Chase for the second consecutive season, but it nearly didn’t happen. In a tight fight for the 12th and final spot, Bowyer needed solid runs at Bristol and Richmond to secure a playoff berth. The No. 07 team responded in kind, as Bowyer finished seventh and 10th at the two tracks, respectively — starting a streak of 12 top 12 finishes in the final 13 races.
Low Point: After winning the spring race at Richmond and moving into fourth in points, his highest position of the year, Bowyer hit his biggest slump of the season. In the next five races, Bowyer’s best run was 15th, and he only finished on the lead lap once (Darlington). The slump dropped him to 12th in points and left him firmly on the Chase bubble for most of the next few months.
Summary: Everyone who thought Bowyer’s surge in 2007 was a fluke was left drinking a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Bowyer proved his critics wrong by having one of the most consistent Chases of the 12 playoff contenders. His worst finish in the final 10 races was still a solid 20th-place run, and he avoided the troubles that plagued several of the series’ premier teams.
If the past two years has been any indication, Bowyer and the No. 07 team has taken a page out of the Chad Knaus/Jimmie Johnson playbook and surged when they needed to — at the end of the year.
Team Ranking: Second of three teams for Richard Childress Racing.
2009 Outlook: While it appeared Bowyer and crew chief Gil Martin had developed a chemistry similar to that of the top driver/crew chief combinations in the sport, Bowyer will now switch teams within the RCR organization and try to get the No. 33 team off the ground with new crew chief Shane Wilson. It will be interesting to see if Bowyer can pick up where he left off, but growing pains are expected for a team seeing its first full-time season.
Quote of the Year: “I set out this season to beat the competition and that’s what I did. Hopefully, they’ll reward us well, but it’s not about that. It’s about that trophy. I love trophies. I’m a trophy guy. You can have a trophy for the rest of your life and be proud of it.” – Clint Bowyer on winning the Nationwide Series championship trophy
2006 Frontstretch Grade: B-.
2007 Grade: A.
2008 Grade: A.