Challenges posed by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car design and temperatures in the high 60s attracted Clint Bowyer and seven other drivers to a Kentucky Speedway test today.

Bowyer enters this week 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after his 26th-place showing at Michigan International Speedway June 15. The Emporia, Kan., driver capped off a string of seven top-10 finishes with a win at Richmond International Speedway May 3 and averaged a 28th-place finish in the five races that followed.

His search for a remedy to the recent ailments continued today.

"We're just trying to figure what went wrong in Michigan. We really struggled up there. We're working on the bump stops and things like that. We're getting closer, I think we have an understanding how of we went down the wrong path, so to speak.

"It's all about learning right now. This car is about a year old, but we're still learning about it. The packers and bump stops that we're running on the shocks are a lot different and they seem to react different from track to track on these mile-and-a-halves.

"Some of the bigger sweeping corner tracks like Michigan and California that have a little bit smoother transitions seem like they take a different package than a place like Atlanta or even Charlotte that has a lot of load. We're just trying to learn about those things. That's what testing is all about and why Kentucky is a good proving ground for us. It has the size and the speed in a lot of ways," Bowyer said.

The series race on the 1.99-mile Infineon Raceway road course June 22 should help him take his mind off his recent oval woes.

"I like that race track. It's the only road course I run well, so I enjoy racing out there. It's challenging, it's very technical, so, it's always fun. It's going to be a grueling weekend having to go from there to Milwaukee, but I'm up for the challenge and ready for it," he said.

The 250-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event on The Milwaukee Mile will open Bowyer's double-duty weekend June 21. He posted his sixth straight top-10 series finish with a ninth-place run in the "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" here June 14.

The solid effort gave him 13 top-10 performances this season. That bundle includes a win and six top-five runs through 16 events. He will start the Milwaukee race holding the lead in the Nationwide Series championship standings and a 170-point advantage over second-place driver Brad Keselowski, who earned his second straight top-five finish and fourth straight top-10 result with a fourth-place showing in the "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo." Bowyer recognizes consistency will play an important role in his Nationwide Series championship bid, but said his team needs to improve in light of the efforts of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team, which took its seventh and most recent series victory at Kentucky Speedway with rookie Joey Logano - the fourth different driver to earn a win in the car this season. JGR prepared Nationwide Series cars have visited Victory Lane 10 of a possible 16 times.

"We're leading the points but we definitely need to pick up our program and step up everything. It seems like whoever is driving that No. 20 car is winning. It's that dominant right now, that's all there is to it," Bowyer said.

"They are making mistakes and we've got to be able to capitalize on those mistakes. To win that championship, I've said from day one of this year it would be the one that makes the fewest mistakes, not the one that wins the most races. I still feel that way. The bar has been raised, we've got to answer the call and pick up our program, but we have to stay consistent and keep doing the things that we're doing," he added.

Other drivers testing at Kentucky Speedway today were A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Labonte, Logano, Michael McDowell, David Reutimann, Reed Sorenson and Michael Waltrip.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~