Clint Bowyer says with a smile: “He won the race. Lucky little turd. That could have been me! Can you protest?”
On Sunday, Charlotte Motor Speedway brought in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to their brand new road course. The Roval was long expected to bring excitement and drama from both the race fans and the drivers.
The race turned out to be somewhere tame. Until the end when all hell broke loose.
Coming to the line on the final lap, we saw a big mess. Jimmie Johnson was on the back bumper of Martin Truex Jr for the race win in the first ever running of the Bank of America 400.
Johnson wheel hopped into turn 16. He spun and collected Martin Truex Jr. With just one corner to go (after making 1852 turns), the two leaders were spinning just short of the finish line.
Ryan Blaney slipped through the both of them to pick up the win. Jamie McMurray ran 2nd and Clint Bowyer ran 3rd.
Clint Bowyer also drove through the spinning cars en route to the finish line: “Smoke and cars everywhere!”
“I’m thinking, ‘I think I’m in. Whoa! Don’t hit one of these guys. I can’t remember who was backed up against the wall. But, if he had put that in gear, he would have smoked both of us.”
“My eyes were big,” Clint Bowyer says of his reaction as he drove by the former leaders who were now crashed just a few hundred feet short of the finish line.
Turn 1 incident
On the restart before, Brad Keselowski cooked turn one. He slid all the way through the corner. The car didn’t even attempt to turn.
As a result, Keselowski went straight and took out the outside lane. Most notably Kyle Larson, who had dominated for most of the day.
However, behind that crash, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney were four wide with Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch heading through turn one. On the outside, Blaney caught a piece of the accident with his right front. Blaney got into the back of Paul Menard, who was parked against the tire barrier.
At the same time, Kyle Busch all but came to a complete stop ahead of Daniel Hemric. That created a stack up in the middle of the track out of turn one. Bowyer pushed through Hemric and Blaney was back on his outside once again.
Blaney picked up enough damage to knock out the toe. However, he ran to 3rd after the next restart. As the leaders wrecked on the final lap, Blaney drove by the crashed cars and took away the win.
But, at the time of the yellow flag… Was Bowyer ahead of Blaney?
Upon watching the video, that must have been a very tough call to make from the tower.
“I don’t know about the #12 though,” Clint Bowyer says from the Charlotte Media center with a smile. “Let me speak my mind on that.”
“I guess they just couldn’t come up with where everybody was at when the caution come out. Because, I’m pretty positive he was over in the pile up when I went by him.”
“I look up and finally the caution had come out. All the sudden, they put him in front of me.”
“Then, he won the race. Lucky little turd. That could have been me! Can you protest?”
“No, look he come a long way,” Clint Bowyer continued. “He and I, we were racing for a position for most of the race. Blaney, he tore a lot of stuff up in practice and things like that. He got those problems behind him and ended up winning.”
“It’s neat to be able to see those kids rise to the occasion. He did a damn good job. Won the race.
“Now, it’s time to think about a cold beer. Because, my god, I want one.”
NASCAR explains the call on Blaney
“It goes back to the start of that lap where he was scored. He was accurately scored,” NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell stated.
Since that’s the rule, Blaney and Bowyer were side by side at the line. He led Bowyer by about 3 feet at the line when they dropped the green.
Blaney was involved in the turn one crash. Since he was able to keep going, he was able to keep his position.
Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney will both advance to the round of 12. The first race in the second round of the NASCAR playoffs is up next.
You can watch the video of the incident in question below.
Related: 2018 Roval race results