As the final notes of the national anthem faded over Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway’s public address system last May, amid the cheers of the crowd ready to watch NASCAR racing, Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) Clint Bowyer paused before climbing into his racecar to run 600 miles in one of the biggest events of the year.
The driver noticed tears in the eyes of Terry Wagoner’s family standing in front of his car. Bowyer had met the Wagoner family of Pelzer, South Carolina, earlier in the day as part of NASCAR Salutes – the industry’s collective expression of respect and gratitude for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present.
Bowyer would carry the 28-year-old Wagoner’s name on his windshield header during the race. Wagoner and two others died in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2007 from wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. Wagoner was in his second Iraq tour when he was killed. He followed in the footsteps of five uncles who also served in the military.
It had been smiles and laughs at the meet-and-greet that morning when the Wagoner family visited Bowyer at his motorhome, but the solemn prerace ceremony that included a moment of silence and national anthem brought out their tears. Amid the tension and chaos of pre-race activity, Bowyer walked over to the family to give each a hug and whispered some words in their ears.
Nobody outside the family knows what was said but, if there is a family that identifies with the sacrifice a soldier and his family make for their country, then it’s the Bowyer family of Emporia, Kansas.
Clint’s paternal grandfather Dale E. Bowyer was a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army. He won the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism while fighting the armed enemy in Germany during World War II.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army. It is awarded for extraordinary heroism.
While leading his platoon under heavy fire in an attack near Sinz, Germany, on Jan. 25, 1945, Lt. Bowyer was severely wounded by an enemy mine. He refused evacuation even though both feet were shattered. He shouted instructions and encouragement where he lay. Inspired by his bravery, the men re-formed, moved clear of the minefield and continued the advance. Only then did Lt. Bowyer allow himself to be evacuated, crawling clear of the minefield to avoid injury to people.
“His devotion to duty and to his men, and his courage and fearless determination, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service,” read the commendation he received.
Lt. Bowyer eventually lost a leg due to his injuries. After his career in the Army, he lived in Iola, Kansas, and worked in the dairy business. He passed away in June 1974. Bowyer never met his grandfather.
This Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600, his grandson Clint Bowyer will carry the name of New Hampshire National Guardsman Spc. Alan J. Burgess of Landaff, New Hampshire, who died in Iraq after a car bomb went off near his patrol in 2004. The 24-year-old father of one was on patrol as a vehicle gunner in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul when he was struck by shrapnel. Burgess was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Forward, headquartered in Berlin, New Hampshire.
Whether he wins or finishes last Sunday night in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600, Bowyer won’t forget the sacrifices his grandfather and family made to keep America free or the ultimate sacrifices of the Wagoner and Burgess families and thousands of others across the country and throughout history.
That’s the meaning of Memorial Day.
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation VF-1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|What are your thoughts on the service of your grandfather and others in the military?
“I never got to meet him but I’ve seen a lot of letters from the President, medals and all these awards that he got. I have the highest respect for him and every soldier who has served this country. I love getting to meet them when they come to the track and I like getting to meet their families and just tell them thank you. We owe so much to everyone who’s served and we will always remember the ones who have given their lives. I love that we’ll honor them this weekend at Charlotte.”
Do you notice the extra 100 miles in the Coca-Cola 600?
“It just depends on how your ole’ hot rod is, how your night’s going. The Coca-Cola 600 can be one of those deals where you feel like you could’ve gone another three or four hours, or it’s one of those where it’s like, ‘My God, is this thing ever going to end?’ You hope it’s the way I was describing before. You hope it’s, ‘This is easy,’ and wish it’d lasted a couple more hours.”
Is there a difference between your mental approach now that you have a victory in 2018?
“The confidence level is through the roof right now for our race team and myself. We’re capable of doing it. We’ve proven that we’ve got that behind us. It’s no longer, ‘Can they do it,’ it’s, ‘When will they do it again,’ and I feel that way when you get in that racecar. It’s not, ‘Can we win again,’ it’s, ‘When are we gonna do it and how are we gonna do it?’”
Are companies more interested in the No. 14 with the success you have enjoyed in 2018?
“There are a lot of good things going on with our sport and I feel like obviously, we’re running good and, I can tell you this, I’m gone a hell of a lot more than I was a year ago and even two years ago, three years ago. Things are picking up in a big way and that’s because of partners and sponsors starting to really pick up around the program.”
Clint Bowyer’s Haas Automation paint scheme celebrates the 30th anniversary of Haas Automation’s very first vertical machining center – the industry-leading VF-1. The “V” in the model name stands for vertical – an industry-standard designation for a vertical mill – and company founder Gene Haas added “F1” to unofficially designate it as the company’s “Very First One.”
Introduced in 1988 in Chicago, the Haas VF-1 established an industry milestone by being the very first American-built vertical machining center to sell for less than $50,000, an unheard-of price at that time. With a published price of $49,900 – another industry first – the Haas VF-1 quickly became the industry benchmark for affordable CNC technology.
Today, the Haas VF-1 still sells for less than $50,000 – in fact, it’s only $46,995 – and Haas Automation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC machine tools with an extensive lineup of more than 100 high-value, high-performance products.
|No. 14 Haas Automation VF-1 Racing Team Report
Round 13 of 36 – Coca-Cola 600 – Charlotte
|Car No. 14: Haas Automation VF-1 Ford Fusion
At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication (Drew.Brown@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Driver: Clint Bowyer
Residence: Emporia, Kansas
Crew Chief: Mike Bugarewicz
Hometown: Lehighton, Pennsylvania
Car Chief: Jerry Cook
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Engine Specialist: Matt Moeller
Hometown: Monroe, New York
Engine Builder: Roush Yates Engines: Mooresville, North Carolina
Spotter: Brett Griffin
Hometown: Pageland, South Carolina
Front Tire Changer: Daniel Coffey
Hometown: Granite Falls, North Carolina
Rear Tire Changer: Shannon Myers
Hometown: Salisbury, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki
Hometown: New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener
Hometown: Fortuna, California
Jackman: Ernie Pierce
Hometown: San Diego, California
Windshield: Chris Trickett
Hometown: Grafton, West Virginia
Truck Drivers: William “Stump” Lewis and Rob Fink
Hometown: Linkwood, Maryland and Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.
Engineers: Lee Deeseand Chris Chidgey
Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida, respectively.
Mechanics: Tony Silvestri and Rich Letendre
Hometown: Sylvania, Ohio and Lowell, Massachusetts, respectively
Tire Specialist: Russell Simpson
Hometown: Medford, New York
Shock Specialist: Wayne Smith
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
- Bowyer owns career totals of nine wins, two poles, 67 top-five finishes, 187 top-10s and 2,660 laps led in 445 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories.
- His most recent Cup Series victory came at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018).
- His most recent Cup Series pole came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007).
- The 2018 season marks the 10th anniversary of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). The Kannapolis, North-Carolina-based team is co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and has recorded 45 points victories and 38 poles since its inception in 2009. It also owns two non-points victories in the Cup Series and two Xfinity Series victories. Stewart won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title and Kevin Harvick gave SHR its second title in 2014. SHR’s Kurt Busch won last year’s Daytona 500, and Harvick has won five times in 2018 while Bowyer owns one victory this season.
- 2017 Coca-Cola 600: Bowyer started ninth and climbed to eighth by the first of four stages at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. He reported his car would not turn in the corners and that dropped him to 14th-place finishes in Stages 2 and 3. He climbed as high as 12th in the final stage, but several cars stretched their fuel mileage in the closing laps and Bowyer finished 14th.
- SHR has five poles and one points-paying win at Charlotte (Kevin Harvick in October 2014) plus seven top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 54 starts.
- 2018 All-Star Race: Bowyer started third but faded to the back of the field in the opening laps. The crew worked to improve the handling, but a lap-74 accident left the No. 14 with a 19th-place finish.
- One of Bowyer’s nine career Cup Series victories came at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 13, 2012. Bowyer led 29 laps and ran out of fuel on his victory celebration lap. His crew pushed the car to victory lane.
- Crew chief Mike “Buga” Bugarewicz is in his third season as a Cup Series crew chief. He oversaw Tony Stewart’s final campaign in 2016 and his pit strategy played a key role in Stewart’s victory at Sonoma in June 2016. Bugarewicz and Bowyer’s first season together in 2017 saw the duo post the 11th-best average finish of all full-time teams. In 2018 they earned their first victory together winning at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March. The Lehighton, Pennsylvania native served as the lead engineer on SHR’s No. 4 entry in 2014 and 2015. The Penn State University graduate was the only rookie crew chief to be part of the Cup Series playoffs in 2016.
- Bowyer’s Best Finishes at SHR (2017-2018):
- Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018)
- 2nd place:
- Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May 6, 2018)
- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 24, 2017)
- Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 25, 2017)
- Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (July 1, 2017)
- 3rd place:
- Atlanta Motor Speedway (Feb. 25, 2018)
- Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (March 26, 2017)
- Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (Oct. 29, 2017)
- Bowyer’s Stage Victories In 2017
- Pocono (Pa.) Raceway Stage 2 (July 30, 2017)
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Victories:
- Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018)
- Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (Oct. 13, 2012)
- Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (Sept. 8, 2012)
- Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 24, 2012)
- Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 23, 2011)
- Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 31, 2010)
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 19, 2010)
- Richmond International Raceway (May 3, 2008)
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007)
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Poles:
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 14, 2007)
- Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (May 11, 2007)
- Bowyer Career Cup Series Points Finishes:
- 2017 18th
- 2016 27th
- 2015 16th
- 2014 19th
- 2013 7th
- 2012 2nd
- 2011 13th
- 2010 10th
- 2009 15th
- 2008 5th
- 2007 3rd
- 2006 17th
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Stops:
- 2017- Present Stewart-Haas Racing
- 2016 HScott Motorsports
- 2012-2015 Michael Waltrip Racing
- 2006-2011 Richard Childress Racing
- Bowyer Xfinity Series Championship:
- Bowyer Xfinity Series Career Victories:
- Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 26, 2009)
- Daytona (Fla) International Speedway (July 3, 2009)
- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (March 15, 2008)
- Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (May 4, 2007)
- Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in Avondale (April 20, 2007)
- Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 23, 2006)
- Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park (Oct. 22, 2005)
- Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway (June 12, 2005)
- Bowyer Camping World Truck Series Victories:
- Kansas (Kan.) Speedway in Kansas City (June 4, 2011)
- Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in Avondale (Nov. 12, 2010)
- Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nov. 3, 2006)
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!