FORT WORTH, Texas — There are election-themed signs all around Texas Motor Speedway touting top challengers Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, and even ballots for fans to pick their favorites.
Those signs and ballots have no mention of Clint Bowyer, the next-closest competitor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship chase.
"Certainly the focus is on that championship and those two guys are neck-and-neck," Bowyer said. "Certainly one little slip up on either one of their parts, then Kasey (Kahne) or I can be right there for the taking. ... It really doesn't matter if the focus is on me or now. We have fun and go about our business the way we're going about our business and enjoy ourselves."
Bowyer, in his first season in the No. 15 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, has been in the top 10 in six of the seven Chase races so far with a win at Charlotte three weeks ago. Overall, he has 21 top 10s in 33 races.
While Jimmie Johnson carries only a two-point lead over Keselowski, Bowyer is 26 points back of the lead with only a three-point edge over Kahne.
Asked what it would take to beat Johnson for the championship, Bowyer pondered the question momentarily.
"Hit man is probably out of the order," Bowyer said with a chuckle. "He rides his bicycle a lot. I was hoping maybe he would blow his knee or something. Nothing career-ending or anything. Maybe painful, something painful to keep him out of the car. You have to beat him."
Johnson is the pole-sitter for Sunday's race, and Bowyer starts fourth.
Even Michael Waltrip has acknowledged that his team probably wasn't the first choice at the end of last season for Bowyer, who was unable to put together a contract extension with Richard Childress Racing after six full Sprint Cup seasons there.
But they have had some big success.
"There was so much potential there. You saw the potential and saw what could be. If everything played out and the plan played out and the talk, if they could back up the talk, it was going to be what we're seeing this year," Bowyer said. "It's been above and beyond."
HEALTHY CHILDRESS: Richard Childress Racing is going the full Nationwide Series season next year with Texas-based health and wellness company AdvoCare as the primary sponsor on Austin Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet.
AdvoCare is expanding its sponsorship with Childress and his grandson's car from 20 Nationwide races this season.
Dillon has been the top rookie in the Nationwide Series this year. Going into Saturday night's race at Texas, he was third in season points – 26 behind leading Elliott Sadler.
DELI DELIGHTS: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and SMI chairman Bruton Smith now have sandwiches named after them.
In marking National Sandwich Day, Texas Motor Speedway and Weinberger's Deli unveiled the three special sandwiches Saturday. The deli, which has three stores in North Texas, originates to the family's stores in Chicago that opened 60 years ago.
There is Johnson's "48 Special" (oven-roasted turkey breast), Stewart's `Smoke" stromboli and Bruton Smith's Billion Dollar Beef, hot roast beef grilled with bacon and mushrooms.
The sandwiches will now be on the deli's menu.
SPARKPLUGS: Jack Roush leads all car owners in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Texas with nine. That includes Greg Biffle in April. Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick are the next closest with three each. ... Chevrolet clinched the manufacturers' championship in the NASCAR Truck Series at Texas this weekend. With a third-place finish Friday night by Nelson Piquet Jr., Chevy got its eighth title since the series' inception in 1995. With 20 of 22 races completed, Chevy Silverado drivers have won 11 races this season. Season points leader James Buescher has won four races.