Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 9/15/14
The high flying Michael Waltrip Racing house of speed is getting shockingly close to rubbing shoulders with Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and more such NASCAR team elites. With their third win of the season earlier this month at Charlotte courtesy of Clint Bowyer’s fuel reserves, the organization is moving in on legitimate championship contention in 2012. What about this fellow Bowyer? Can he take home the real big trophy–you know, the one from Sprint that’s kinda shaped like a cup–back home to Mr. Waltrip? After dropping from one of the sport’s premier clubs (Richard Childress Racing) last year, the man Bowyer has defied preseason expectations with a consistently strong season and late-season championship fighting chops. Is this for real? To be sure, Clint Bowyer is one of the more interesting case studies in the NASCAR garage. Like RCR stablemates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton, he has a knack for quiet consistency, top-10 runs, and a sprinkling of choice wins here and there. He sports a handsome visage and an able hand at the wheel, but he keeps glamour and pizazz to a down-to-earth minimum. And somehow, he is prone, at the peak of his performance, to be spotted just below the horizon line of heavyweights as that thorn in the flesh that seems to appear out of nowhere. Word in the garage has it that he’s one of the more peer-respected drivers in the sport, and trophy magnate Jeff Gordon even went so far one time as to proclaim him as a potential heir to the Johnson throne over the next decade. High praise indeed, but is the matter shot through with truth? Like Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and others, history still has yet to prove that Bowyer has that “closer” factor that often defines a title-winner in top-level NASCAR. That’s the long way of saying that until proven otherwise, there are often only a handful of drivers that will actually win the championship. There have been a great number of drivers who have made valiant runs at the cup over the last two decades, including Bowyer and his own top-five run in 2007, but it’s taken only three drivers combined to win over 50% of those titles (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart). While it might be bad form to be so logically simple about this question, it’s truly rather a straight-forward issue. Will Bowyer win the cup in 2012? Perhaps a better-put question is, “can he win the cup”? Yes, he can. And yes, he’s an able contender amongst the likes of Johnson, Kahne, and Keselowski. A red flag of reserve gets waved for question number one, but as for question number two, Bowyer at least gets to stand in good company. With a shot of 5-Hour Energy to spare, Bowyer gets the green flag of elite approval; right now, he’s a prize-fighter with the best of them. The post Can Clint Bowyer win the Sprint Cup title? appeared first on Race Review Online.

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