Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman had to race their way into a 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff berth – with their championship fate ultimately decided with their work in the regular season finale at Indianapolis.
Going forward, however, the two veterans have shown some of their best career work at Playoff venues.
Bowyer, the driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, goes into the Playoffs ranked 15th. And this week’s Las Vegas 1.5-miler hasn’t been a particular star on his resume with only one top five and four top 10s in 15 career starts at the track. His career best finish was runner-up in 2009, but he’s had only one top-10 (10th in 2017) in the last eight races at the track. He was 23rd in last year’s Playoff opener there and 14th this spring.
However, things look good for Bowyer historically-speaking, should he continue to advance in the Playoffs. Five of his 10 career wins have come at Playoff tracks including a pair of wins at Richmond and Martinsville. If you count his Charlotte win on the oval configuration – which is a ROVAL road course style event in the 10-race Playoffs – he has six wins in upcoming locales. He won the 2012 fall race on the traditional 1.5-miler at Charlotte.
On the season, Bowyer has six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s, including three straight top-10s in the races leading into the Playoffs. He was fifth at Indy last week and his best work of the season came in a runner-up finish at Texas, which is also a Playoff track
Newman, 41, probably feels more confident about his Vegas chances. He has four top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 20 races at the track. He’s started from the front row twice, including the pole position in 2005. His career-best finish is third in 2015. He was ninth in last year’s Playoff opener there and 24th in this March’s visit. He’s led a very respectable 112 laps at the track.
As with Bowyer, Newman has turned in a good record at the Playoff lineup of facilities. He has earned wins at nine of the 10 upcoming venues, including Texas (one win), Dover (three wins), Richmond (one win), Kansas (one win), Martinsville (one win) and Phoenix (two wins). That accounts for half of his 18 career wins.
As with Bowyer, Newman had to step up his game to earn that final Playoff position. In his first season driving the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford he has one top-five (fifth at Daytona-2) and nine top-10s including an eighth place at Indianapolis last weekend to secure his championship opportunity. He has finished 12th or better in six of the last nine races.