"We pitted and made a few changes and you know, of course, we got caught by the caution which got us two laps down," he explained. "But, at that point right there the car was fast. It was fast all day after that. We just battled, battled hard. We passed a ton of cars. Obviously, we got a few at the end there cause of the fuel mileage deal. We came from dead last there with the 'lucky dog' the last run and I was catching the #99."
Of the rest of the Chase contenders, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in 11th place and Kevin Harvick claimed 13th, which keeps them solidly in the midfield of the standings but nonetheless gradually falling away from the points leaders.
"Our car wasn't very good," confessed Harvick. "We got caught with that one caution and that kind of got us a couple of laps behind. We made some good adjustments and got it back to where we needed to, just couldn't make up those two laps."
Kasey Kahne had been looking set for a top five finish when a late vibration forced him back to pit road for an unscheduled stop on lap 362 with a loose front right tyre. Any hopes he might have had of recovering from there were dashed by a lug nut getting missed in the pit stall, which left him returning to pit lane a second time and ending up three laps down in 15th place.
"The car just started shaking really bad," he said. "I got nervous because it was getting worse and worse ... I was definitely upset about it, but things happen," he added. "The bad part was when we came down pit road and they changed right sides and left a lug nut off on one of the wheels then we had to come back down pit road that was what hurt us really bad. That stuff shouldn't happen."
"Right before it did that we were fast, we finally got our laps back that we lost early and we were coming on," he continued. "I could see I was eating Keselowski up pretty good and had plenty of fuel. We were sitting really good because we had just pitted and topped off ... Everybody was saving gas, so I thought we were in a really good spot and I could run really hard. I felt really good about where I was."
Kahne finished five places ahead of reigning champion Tony Stewart, who is finding it difficult to recapture the astounding form that carried him to the title in the 2011 Chase.
"We just got caught behind the eight ball there," he admitted. "It was just a domino effect. Every time you'd try to get a lap back it would run all the way to the end. And as soon as we'd pit, the caution would come out again. So, I don't know what we've got to do to change our luck, but that's just the story of the day for us.
"It was the best car I've had here for a long time," he added. "We were definitely the calibre of the #18 or the #11 or the #48." Unfortunately it hadn't shown in the race, and as a result Stewart slips down to fifth position in the Chase standings and is now 32pts off the leader.
Considering he's won two of the three Chase races so far this year, it's hardly surprising that it's Brad Keselowski who claims that lead of the Cup championship coming out of Dover - although he's just 5pts ahead of Jimmie Johnson. Denny Hamlin is 16pts back from Keselowski and Bowyer is 25pts off the lead, which indicates that the 2012 title may already be a four- if not three-horse race even this early in the proceedings.