Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Rheem team returned to Bristol Motor Speedway Friday night for the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ second visit of the season. Bowyer qualified the Rheem Chevrolet in the ninth position for the start of the 250-lap event. The driver led twice for 52 laps and did not fall outside of the top 10 for the entirety of the evening.
Bowyer launched from the ninth position at the start of the race and steadily worked his way forward in the opening laps. By lap 20, the driver pushed the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet to the fifth spot.
The night’s first caution came on lap 35 for a single-car spin in turn four. Bowyer radioed to his KHI crew that the Chevrolet was handling well, and the team opted not to pit during the caution.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 42 with Bowyer running in the third position. Lap-by-lap the driver closed in on the No. 20 car running in the second position. On lap 71, Bowyer made the move on the low side of the No. 20 in the middle of turns three and four and moved into second. With lap times faster than the leader, the No. 18 car, the Emporia, Kan., native powered his way to the lead on lap 113 and pulled ahead of the field.
The yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 125. Bowyer made the trip to pit road for four tires and fuel. The Rheem crew executed a quick, flawless stop and returned the No. 33 machine to the track with the race lead.
Bowyer led the field back to green on lap 132 as the night’s third caution fell shortly after on lap 136. Again, the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet took the field back to green on lap 141 and yellow quickly followed with the fourth caution on lap 144.
The green flag waved bringing the field back to full speed on lap 150. After the restart, the No. 18 car raced to Bowyer’s bumper and the two cars engaged in a tight, door-to-door battle for the lead as they raced around the .533-mile concrete track. On lap 163, the No. 18 muscled his way past Bowyer, and the No. 33 settled into the second spot.
NASCAR waved the yellow flag for a fifth time on lap 191. Running in the second position at the time of caution, Bowyer followed the race leader and made the trip to pit road for four tires and fuel. Three cars behind the No. 33 chose not to pit and remained on track, leaving Bowyer to line up fifth behind the No. 18 car as the race resumed green-flag conditions on lap197.
Bowyer maneuvered his way to the third position with 46 laps remaining in the event. The driver fought hard to power his way back to the race lead but maintained the third position to the checkered flag.
Kevin Harvick will climb behind the wheel of the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet next weekend as the Nationwide Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Great Clips 300. Tune in to ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET to watch the racing action live and listen to PRN beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Comments from driver Clint Bowyer:
“It was a good race and a lot of fun. This No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet was really fast, I just couldn’t catch the 18 and 20 cars there at the end. I’ll be back with this KHI team at Dover and hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate in victory lane.”