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Jeff Burton tried to counsel his teammate about not letting the drama effect his performance, but knew how difficult it would be for Bowyer.

“They go to New Hampshire, win the race, second in points and thinking this thing is laid out really well. Two days later, you’re in this process of being called a cheater,” Burton said. “That’s a lot. There’s no way that it’s not a distraction. There’s no way that you can just shut it off and say it’s not happening.”

But Bowyer, who was defiant in his team’s defense during his media session at Dover, seemed much better Friday. His mood was light again, and he was resigned with his fate. He made a point several times to vow to help Kevin Harvick, who is fifth in the standings, and Burton, who is seventh, win the title.

Burton said Bowyer simply needs to continue his open communication, but Harvick said Bowyer could essentially become the organization’s R&D car for the final eight weeks of the Chase.

“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,” Harvick said. “Whether it be an engine that the engine shop may want to put in or parts and pieces that maybe the engineering department finds that they feel are going to be better, but aren’t proven on the race track.

“All those things can go into his car and they can go into just worrying about winning races and really being aggressive.”

Bowyer still has goals to achieve.

In two previous Chase appearances he’s never finished lower than fifth, and he’d like to at least match that this year. He’s still 12th in the standings.

“I want to continue that streak,” he said, “and want to continue that consistency in the Chase and I think that’s an attainable goal.”