Fitness Carter

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Clint Bowyer stressed? Oh, c'mon - ESPN


Originally Published: September 28, 2013

By David Newton[1] |

DOVER, Del. -- Clint Bowyer[2] stretched out on a pink towel as his Saturday morning yoga instructor took him through the cool-down phase of this rather satirical demonstration on the Turn 1 grass at Dover International Speedway.

She told him to clear his thoughts.

She asked him to calm his mind chatter.

She pleaded with him to be at one with himself.

"Is there something you'd like to release?" asked Jessica Coyne, a Dover yoga instructor who seemed to the Sprint Cup driver to be more into torture than relaxation.

If you're expecting this to be where Bowyer confessed that he intentionally spun out in the regular-season finale at Richmond to help Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.[3] get into the Chase, it didn't happen.

It probably won't ever happen.

But if there was anything this Chase needed, it was relief from the stress that everything surrounding Richmond brought.

Bowyer in particular needed relief after two weeks of criticism from fellow drivers, boos from fans and average performances. He enters Sunday's race (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) 10th in the standings, 48 points behind Matt Kenseth[4] , who won the first two races.

He has gone from a driver many believed would contend for the title to one five-time champion Jimmie Johnson[5] said has "an extra force out there weighing on him" because of all the penalties, drama and embarrassment that followed the spinout.

So, Saturday morning was a chance, as the instructor said, to clear the mind of all the past. That it was put on by 5-Hour Energy to promote breast cancer awareness had to help, given that, 24 hours earlier, the sponsor had announced it would stay with Bowyer[6] despite the embarrassment he had triggered.

"She said this was a stress reliever, and it actually put more stress on me," Bowyer deadpanned afterward.

Bowyer didn't bite on whether the yoga class was therapeutic after everything he's been through. But we did learn that he can't touch his toes and that his version of the downward dog is different from the instructor's.

"Just say 'ass in the air,'" Bowyer joked during the session.

We also learned that Bowyer hasn't given up on getting back into Chase contention even though it looks like a three-man race between Kenseth, Kyle Busch[7] (minus-14) and Johnson (minus-18).

"Hey, don't kid yourself, 48 points, that's a long ways," Bowyer said. "But I think within four races we closed a 100-point gap on Jimmie Johnson for crying out loud. It wasn't like we were running down a start-'n'-park."

It wasn't 100 points, either. But Bowyer did go from 77 points behind then-points leader Johnson after Pocono to within 18 at Bristol with finishes of sixth, fifth and 14th. That's 59 points in three races, so 48 isn't impossible with eight remaining.

The difference now is that Bowyer, who finished second in the Chase to Brad Keselowski[10] a year ago, has to pass nine other drivers. When he made up the gap on Johnson, he was second the entire time.

But at least Bowyer is getting back some of his fun-loving self that has been missing since Richmond. Before the first yoga pose, he asked whether there was an ambulance nearby. Told there was a paramedic, he immediately noticed the man was wearing a Johnson hat.

"Will you still take care of me?" he said with a laugh.

Here's hoping Bowyer or somebody can do something to put more fun into this Chase. With consecutive 1-2 finishes by Kenseth and Busch, it has become rather predictable.

The debate all weekend has been whether everyone behind Johnson should give up. Greg Biffle[11] , who won the first two Chase races in 2008 only to finish third in the final standings, made it clear this is far from over.

"Those guys that are saying it's a three-man race are stupid," he said Thursday at Dover Air Force Base during an event for sponsor 3M's Give Kids a Smile program. "I mean, there's no possible way you could call this a three-man race right now."

History tells us Biffle might be -- no offense, Biff -- the stupid one. In the past six years, the eventual champion has been in the top three in points after two races. In the past five, the eventual champion has been in the top two after two races.

There have been a few exceptions. In 2005, Tony Stewart[12] was fifth in points and then finished ninth or better in six of the last eight races to win the title.

In 2006, Johnson was eighth, 136 points back under the old system, before putting together a victory and four second-place finishes in his last eight races to capture his first title.

But, for the most part, a strong start has been an accurate indicator of the eventual champion. The driver who won five consecutive titles seems to get that better than most.

"I'm certainly looking forward and there are only two guys that I'm paying attention to right now, so, in that mindset, sure you can call it a three-man race," Johnson said.

Stupid would be to say this is a one-man race because Kenseth has opened with two wins. Since the Chase began in 2004, only Stewart in 2011 won the title after leading after the first two races.

And he fell to seventh after four races before winning three of the last four to edge Carl Edwards[13] in a tiebreaker.

Biffle, in fifth place 38 points out, finished 217 points behind Johnson under the old system after his fast start in 2008.

So, from that standpoint, this is far from over.

The spring race at Dover is an example that anything can happen. NASCAR penalized Johnson for jumping the final restart with 19 laps remaining after he had led 143 laps. He finished 17th.

Kenseth had a dominant car early. He blew an engine on Lap 159 and finished 40th. He followed that with a 25th-place finish at Pocono and, in two weeks, dropped from third to sixth in the standings.

Busch had a stretch at Kansas, Richmond and Talladega in the spring when he finished 38th, 24th and 28th and went from second in points to 10th.

Johnson went 40th, 36th, 28th and 40th over the final four races of the regular season to turn a seemingly insurmountable 75-point lead to a one-point deficit to Edwards before the standings were shuffled.

Bowyer made up 62 points in that stretch before NASCAR penalized him 50 points for the Richmond controversy.

So there is hope for everyone, including Bowyer, even though he did struggle with what his yoga instructor called a "victory breath."

"I clearly had a different opinion on what yoga was," said Bowyer, who on Friday tweeted that he had realized yoga wasn't a "message" when he meant to say massage. "This is a serious thing. I don't know how you get one with yourself and calm down.

"I'm full of stress right now. I don't think this helped."

But it did bring some comic relief to a Chase that needed some.


  1. ^ David Newton (

  2. ^ Clint Bowyer (

  3. ^ Martin Truex Jr. (

  4. ^ Matt Kenseth (

  5. ^ Jimmie Johnson (

  6. ^ would stay with Bowyer (

  7. ^ Kyle Busch (

  8. ^ #Yoga (

  9. ^ September 28, 2013 (

  10. ^ Brad Keselowski (

  11. ^ Greg Biffle (

  12. ^ Tony Stewart (

  13. ^ Carl Edwards (

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