Bowyer trades rooftop finish for four wheels

Updated: February 25, 2007, 11:09 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

FONTANA, Calif. -- After crossing the finish line on his roof last week at Daytona, Clint Bowyer was happy to reach the line on all four wheels Sunday in the Auto Club 500.

Bowyer finished sixth in this version of the No. 07 Chevy, which he named Betsy. He was headed for a top-10 at Daytona before the last-lap crash caused him to slide home 18th.

"The old girl has been awesome since we unloaded here," Bowyer said. She's my favorite car. I had a blast out there today."

Bowyer ranks sixth in the standings. Not bad, but it's the lowest of the three Richard Childress Racing drivers. Jeff Burton is second and Kevin Harvick is fourth.

Going over like a lead balloon?
In the first Nextel Cup event with unleaded fuel, five drivers left the race with engine problems.

Before jumping to any conclusions, that's not an unusual number of motor problems for a 500-mile race at California Speedway. The 13 previous Cup events on the 2-mile oval had a total of 44 blown engines.

It's no consolation to the guys watching their car go up in smoke. Kasey Kahne, who won at California last September, was one of them. Kahne didn't blame it on the change, but he did say the unleaded fuel was an adjustment.

"It's definitely different in the way the car runs," Kahne said. "It's different with the way it takes off on restarts and how it shifts. We've got some things to work on to figure it out."

Ken Schrader had an engine failure and Dave Blaney left the race with a broken oil pump. The DEI cars of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. had engine failures, but they didn't blame it on the fuel change.

Thanks a lot
An early spin by Scott Riggs resulted in the second consecutive bad finish for Riggs and Jamie McMurray.

Riggs lost control of the No. 10 Dodge and spun into the outside wall, collecting McMurray behind him. Reed Sorenson also was involved in the accident.

"It was my fault," Riggs said. "I got loose and tried to catch it, but I couldn't. I feel real bad for Jamie."

Riggs has finished 37th and 41st the in the first two events. McMurray was 37th Sunday after a 31st-place finish at Daytona.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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