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Clint Bowyer faces big deficit to advance but remains undaunted

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 - Practice

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford, climbs into his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Clint Bowyer is 42 points out of a transfer spot to the championship race entering the final two races of this round.

With Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — the Big 3 — yet to claim a spot in Miami, Bowyer’s chances of racing for a title in two weeks seem slight.

Just don’t tell him.

“You can’t ever give up,” Bowyer said after qualifying second for today’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

“You leave Martinsville bummed out and dejected. We won there in the spring. That is the thing about this sport, it doesn’t matter what you did in the spring, it matters what you showed up with on Friday and how you do in practice and the rest of the weekend and how you race that race, that weekend. That is all that matters.”

Bowyer followed his March victory at Martinsville with a 21st-place finish there last weekend. He had contact with William Byron on pit road and spun after contact from Jimmie Johnson.

Bowyer was the lowest-finishing driver of the remaining eight playoff competitors. That’s put him far behind Harvick, his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, for what would be the final transfer spot.

“We are down … and dug a big hole,” Bowyer said. “But if you look at our playoffs, it kind of seems like it has always been that way for me. I guess I am thick-headed or something. I always have to do it the hard way. We started the playoffs in a good position and rolled into Vegas and had trouble (hit the wall during the race and finished 23rd), dug ourselves a hole and had trouble.

“We went to the Roval and dug deep and got ourselves out of the hole and put ourselves in the next round. You go to my go-to track. It has always been Dover. I wasn’t worried about it and knew it would be a good round for us and it was until the end of the race when we had the loose wheel (finished 35th). That one little mishap made it so we almost didn’t get out of that round. We went to Talladega and thank God we had four dominant cars and put ourselves right back in it.”

Although Bowyer didn’t back up his March win in Martinsville with another victory, he said “my head is not at doomsday or DEFCON 5.

“We don’t have to just win this race to get in. We just need to take car of business, not lose stage points, march forward and close that gap. If we can do that this weekend, I will feel confident going into Phoenix. Obviously the easy answer is to just win the damn thing and roll on to the dance.”