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NASCAR

Bowyer accepts championship chances are over

Clint Bowyer has no faith his championship-ending penalty will be overturned by NASCAR's version of the Supreme Court.

He's accepted that he's got zero chance at winning the Sprint Cup title this season.

He's not given up on his teammates, though.

Bowyer returned to home track Kansas Speedway on Friday eager to put the drama surrounding his illegal car from New Hampshire behind him and focus on helping one of his Richard Childress Racing teammates win the championship.

"The championship hopes are done for myself. The thing that I have to do is be the best teammate I can be," Bowyer said. "We have to bring a championship home. We still have two shots at that."

NASCAR docked Bowyer 150 points because the car he drove to victory Sept. 11 at New Hampshire failed inspection, and an appeals committee this week denied RCR's bid to have the penalties overturned. Team owner Richard Childress has one last chance, an Oct. 5 hearing before NASCAR chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook.

Bowyer thinks the boss is wasting his time.

"I've told Richard it's not worth fighting," Bowyer said. "In my opinion, their minds are made up. It is what it is and if you want to be a part of this great thing we call a sport, you better just go on and enjoy what it is."

And that's exactly what Bowyer plans to do this weekend at Kansas.

He grew up in Emporia, about 90 minutes southwest of the Kansas track, and has spent this week in his homestate catching up with friends, family and fans. It was a welcome reprieve from the controversy that's ruined his season.

The last driver to claim a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field, his win at New Hampshire rocketed him from 12th to second in the standings, only 35 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. But as quickly as he climbed into the championship race, he was out of it.

NASCAR took the No. 33 Chevrolet back to its North Carolina research and development center for a second inspection and ruled the car was illegal. Bowyer and Childress were each docked 150 points, crew chief Shane Wilson was fined $150,000 and suspended six races, and car chief Chad Haney was suspended six races.

What was likely the high point of Bowyer's NASCAR career was ruined in a span of 72 hours.

"That's an emotional roller coaster that nobody wants to ride, trust me," he said. "This is a very humbling sport."

It contributed to Bowyer's poor showing last weekend at Dover, where he finished 25th and admitted Friday "our heads weren't 100 percent in the game."

Jeff Burton tried to counsel his teammate about not letting the drama effect his performance, but knew how difficult it would be for Bowyer.

"They go to New Hampshire, win the race, second in points and thinking this thing is laid out really well. Two days later, you're in this process of being called a cheater," Burton said. "That's a lot. There's no way that it's not a distraction. There's no way that you can just shut it off and say it's not happening."

But Bowyer, who was defiant in his team's defense during his media session at Dover, seemed much better Friday. His mood was light again, and he was resigned with his fate. He made a point several times to vow to help Kevin Harvick, who is fifth in the standings, and Burton, who is seventh, win the title.

Burton said Bowyer simply needs to continue his open communication, but Harvick said Bowyer could essentially become the organization's R&D car for the final eight weeks of the Chase.

"It's going to allow him to get out of the box and try things that maybe we don't want to try because we have to be a little more conservative," Harvick said. "Whether it be an engine that the engine shop may want to put in or parts and pieces that maybe the engineering department finds that they feel are going to be better, but aren't proven on the race track.

"All those things can go into his car and they can go into just worrying about winning races and really being aggressive."

Bowyer still has goals to achieve.

In two previous Chase appearances he's never finished lower than fifth, and he'd like to at least match that this year. He's still 12th in the standings.

"I want to continue that streak," he said, "and want to continue that consistency in the Chase and I think that's an attainable goal."