Clint Bowyer says he is not giving up on his hopes of making this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup despite being more than 100 points off from breaking into the top 12 with only two races left before the cut.
Bowyer has been in the series playoff for the past two years, finishing the championship third and fifth respectively. He is currently the only Richard Childress Racing driver who can mathematically make the Chase, ranking 15th in the drivers standing behind Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers. Despite having just an outside chance of making the title battle, Bowyer still considers it to be possible, as he believes he has the pace to win before the season is due.
"We're still not out of this thing," said Bowyer. "We're still on top of the board and still doing the things we're supposed to be doing. Our cars are running way better, we're having fun.
"Whether we're in this Chase or not, I think we're going to have a shot at winning one of these Chase races by the end of the year. That will cap off a good season for us. The guys have worked extremely hard this year."
Bowyer is optimistic about the coming two races at Atlanta and Richmond, where the Chase field will be set. He has finished in the top ten in four of his last five races at Atlanta, and he won last year in the spring at Richmond.
"Both of these tracks are good tracks for us," says Bowyer. "Atlanta, we have had four sixth-place finishes in the last five races here. We certainly know how to get around this place. The tyres are a little bit different and kind of throwing everybody for a loop a little bit, I think.
"The night race is going to be a factor, but Richmond - the last race before the Chase - I watched Jeremy Mayfield win his way into the Chase a few years back and don't think I haven't forgotten about it."
While some of the drivers currently in the top 12 are taking a conservative approach in the coming two races, the current Nationwide Series champion says for his team the only way to make the Chase is to be aggressive.
"In the situation we're in, as far as the Chase goes, it's full speed ahead," said Bowyer. "We take every chance we can, throw the 'Hale Mary's' and hopefully you come up with it. Like I said, I'm proud of our guys, we've worked really hard this year. We've overcome a lot this year.
"We've been behind and I feel like we're starting to hit our stride. Maybe a little too late, but nonetheless I think we can win a race before the end of the year."
This year Richard Childress Racing expanded to a four-car operation with Bowyer moving from the #07 car to the new #33 entry. Despite working with a new group, Bowyer and his team have been the best form the squad this season.