Clint Bowyer is enjoying all the comforts of being home this week. After the past few weeks, he could certainly use them.
Bowyer, who is from Emporia, Kan., worked on the engine of his dirt-track car with some old friends, went racing at a local go-kart track and hit a casino just north of Kansas City.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Bowyer, whose life has been decidedly not fun recently.
Bowyer will enter Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway 12th in NASCAR's standings, 235 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
After winning the first Chase race at New Hampshire two weeks ago, Bowyer was second in points.
Then his Chevy failed a postrace inspection (exceeding height requirements by a fraction of an inch) and his team was docked 150 points, sending Bowyer plummeting in the standings. Crew chief Shane Wilson was suspended six weeks.
Admittedly distracted by all the fuss that came from the penalty, Bowyer finished 25th at Dover, Del., last weekend.
All of which gives Bowyer a fairly realistic view of his title chances now.
"I think the championship hopes are done for myself," he said.
Bowyer's chances at getting those 150 points back aren't completely gone. Although Richard Childress Racing lost an appeal Wednesday, Childress will have one final chance Tuesday with NASCAR's chief appellate officer John Middlebrook. History doesn't favor Bowyer: Of the 12 appeals heard at the final level during the past 12 years, eight penalties were upheld, three were reduced and one was overturned. Wilson also can work Sunday's race, pending Middlebrook's decision.
"I've told Richard it's not worth fighting," said Bowyer. "In my opinion (NASCAR's) minds are made up. He's fighting hard and I'm proud of the case put together. I think they worked very hard on it, they put a lot of time and energy and money into presenting a case that could prove less than a 16th of an inch that car could be out" of tolerance.
Bowyer said he will spend the season's final eight races helping teammates Kevin Harvick (fifth) and Jeff Burton (seventh) in their title efforts.
"The thing that I have to do is be the best teammate I can be," said Bowyer, who start 27th Sunday "We still have two shots at that, but I've never finished out of the top five in the Chase and I want to continue that streak. I think that's an attainable goal."
Harvick, who led the standings before they were shuffled for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, thinks Bowyer can contribute in different ways, like testing untried engine parts that might improve speed.
"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 on the performance side," said Harvick. "All those things can go into his car and they can just go into worrying about winning races and really being aggressive."
Said Burton: "The same thing we can do to help him and that is when you learn something, explain, 'Here's what I learned.' Just that communication and that communication is what makes us better. They don't need to quit. They need to go about it as if they have a chance to win the championship. If they do that, it will help us, too."
Bowyer's mood Friday seemed upbeat, and he said the whole experience wouldn't take too much of a toll on him.
"It is an ordeal ..., " he said. "But I don't think any ordeal, joke or whatever you want to call it, could change you. If it changes who I am, (I) would be fake to begin with."
Burton, who at 43 is RCR's elder statesman, said he told Bowyer it all would pass.
"I try to impress on Clint that we live in a moment and we think that in that moment everything revolves around that," Burton said. "In two weeks, there's going to be another conversation about another controversy. (But) you're ... being called a cheater and ... there's no way that it's not a distraction. (But) it's a blip on the radar. It will be a learning experience."