Race Weekend Central

The Frontstretch 5: Things That Have Happened Between Clint Bowyer’s Most Recent Wins

1. More than half the field from the 2012 Bank of America 500 is no longer racing in the Cup Series

Take a look at the field for the 2012 Bank of America 500. One thing fans will be sure to notice is the number of drivers who have exited the Cup ranks since that night. Of 43 starters, 24 are no longer racing in the Cup ranks, at least not full-time. A few, like Landon Cassill, JJ Yeley and Reed Sorenson still run on occasion.

One other full-time Cup driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t race that night due to an injury (Regan Smith filled in) but has also since retired.

A few went on to race in different series. Five (Smith, Bobby Labonte, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon for those keeping score) are now television analysts. Three (Burton, David Gilliland and Dave Blaney) have sons now racing in NASCAR’s national touring divisions. In addition, only one of the four drivers who failed to qualify for that race (which puts the entry list at 47) is still racing: Cole Whitt, and he’s running a partial schedule this year as well.

Also, no longer in NASCAR is the team Bowyer drove for, Michael Waltrip Racing.

2. Five different drivers have won titles

A few weeks after Bowyer’s Charlotte victory, Brad Keselowski was crowned the series champion.  Bowyer was runner-up.

Keselowski was the first first-time champ since 2006, but three of the next five titlists — Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — were also first-timers. Only Jimmie Johnson was a repeat champ during those years, and he won two of them, bringing his total career titles to seven.

Bowyer finished seventh in 2013 but hasn’t made a title run since.

3. Active win leader Johnson has won 25 times

Johnson may be in the midst of a losing streak of his own right now, but he has earned 25 race victories since Bowyer’s 2012 chart topper. The driver of the No. 48 is currently tied for sixth on the all-time wins list. In October 2012, he was eighth, just below Dale Earnhardt and above Rusty Wallace.  Johnson is currently tied with Cale Yarborough at 83.

4. William Byron became old enough to get a driver’s license

2018 Rookie of the Year candidate Byron was all of 14 years old when Bowyer wheeled his pink 5-Hour Energy machine into Charlotte’s Victory Lane, over a year away from being able to legally drive a car. He was just getting started racing Legends cars. By the time Bowyer won again this weekend at Martinsville, Byron was racing against him.

5. Martinsville changed its hot dogs twice

The famous loaded tube steak underwent an overhaul a few years ago, switching from local favorite Jesse Jones to Smithfield, and the fans were not happy. Sure the toppings—mustard, chili, slaw and onions—remained the same and the dog was still a shocking shade of hot pink, but it wasn’t quite the same.

Starting in 2018, the speedway brought back the original Jesse Jones version, and there was much rejoicing and bragging about the number consumed.

What hasn’t changed since Bowyer’s 2012 win, and in fact hasn’t changed since Richard Petty was still racing, was the $2 price tag. It’s good to know that some things remain constant as the sport changes around us.

About the author

Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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Bill B

Danica’s cup career came and went during that period.

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