| Life comes at you fast. Especially at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visits the wide, sweeping corners and long straightaways of the 2-mile, D-shaped oval in the state’s scenic Irish Hills region this weekend for the 15th race of the 2018 season. Last year’s Michigan races provided the fastest two qualifying laps of the 2017 season with each pole winner’s speeds exceeding 202 mph.
It’s a far cry from the 206.558 mph track record set by Jeff Gordon in August 2014, but it’s still fast.
Just ask the drivers.
“Michigan will surely get your attention,” said No. 14 Haas Automation VF-1 for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer, who qualified third and 11th at Michigan in 2017. “You better have everything right at Michigan. That’s engine, aero, handling and everything else. You are going so fast there that anything slightly off will show up.”
Bowyer arrives at Michigan after a good run but disappointing result at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last weekend. Bowyer finished fourth and third in the race’s first two stages and appeared destined for a top-five finish. But a missed shift with five laps remaining in the race left him “sick to my stomach” with a 20th-place finish.
The stage points earned Sunday, coupled with trouble encountered by competitors in the race, moved Bowyer from eighth to sixth in the standings. The No. 14 owns a victory, three top-five finishes, and seven top-10s in 2018. His average start is 17.7 and average finish is 18.7 at Michigan.
Bowyer showed speed at Michigan in 2017. In June, he started third and ran as high as second early in the race. He finished sixth in both Stage 1 and Stage 2. He restarted the race seventh with 15 laps remaining but visited pit lane after right-side contact with the wall. The damage relegated Bowyer to 26th
In July he finished 23rd after enduring two speeding penalties and contact with another car with 50 laps remaining in the race.
Bowyer’s average finish of 11.4 in 2018 is the second best of his career. In 2012 he averaged a 10.9 finish. His 2018 numbers would be even better were it not for accidents caused by other drivers at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City that saw Bowyer’s good runs end early.
SHR drivers own one points-paying victory at Michigan – Kurt Busch in June 2015 – and 10 top-fives and 18 top-10s in 54 starts. The organization arrives at Michigan as strong as ever. In 2018 SHR cars have won six points-paying Cup Series races – five for Kevin Harvick and one for Bowyer – and the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race, and have earned three poles and led 1,427 of the season’s 4,462 laps. An SHR Ford has led approximately one-third of all laps in 2018.
SHR drivers are high in the standings, as well. Harvick is second, Bowyer sixth, Busch seventh and Aric Almirola 11th.
“Life is good right now at SHR,” Bowyer said. “Our Fords are fast and we hope to keep making them faster. It being Michigan, I know Ford will have a lot of folks at the track this weekend. We are going to meet a lot of them on Sunday and tell them how much we appreciate their support and hard work. I’d really like them to come get their picture with us in victory lane.”
|CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation VF-1 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|What is the key to victory at Michigan?
“She’s a fast, fast racetrack. It always gets your attention. You have to have grip and a ton of horsepower. If you have both of those, you will be just fine. As the track ages, it will keep getting better and better. Right now, it seems the middle groove is where you want to be.”
What is the key to your 2018 success?
“A fast hot rod goes a long way in this sport. We’ve been running up front, we have to stay there and get a little bit better. Improvement is always what you want. You want to just keep improving and getting better. That is really all you can ask for. I am pretty proud of us getting better. Hopefully, we will keep improving as we go on.
|Haas Automation in Michigan
The Haas Automation logos that adorn the No. 14 Ford this weekend are familiar to the Michigan automotive industry as thousands of Haas machines populate local businesses.
Haas equipment resides in various Ford Motor Company facilities, including Ford Engine Manufacturing Development Operations in Detroit. A customer on the west side of the state uses Haas machines to make engine mounts for Ford F-150s while another customer uses Haas machines on several different suspension components for multiple Ford vehicle.
Haas machines are popular for clients making a variety of automotive related molds. A “Big Three” manufacturer’s design lab uses about 20 Haas machines making components for concept cars and future vehicles.
Bowyer’s Haas Automation paint scheme this weekend 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 Team Report
Round 15 of 36 – FireKeepers Casino 400 – Michigan
|Car No. 14: Haas Automation VF-1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing
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 Deese and Chris Chidgey
Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida, respectively.
Mechanics: Tony Silvestri and Rich Letendre
Hometown: Sylvania, Ohioand 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 447 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-paying victories and 38 poles since its inception in 2009. It also owns three 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.
- Bowyer at Michigan: He’s earned one top-five finish and 11 top-10s in 24 starts at the 2-mile track. In June of 2017, Bowyer started third and ran as high as second early in the race. He finished sixth in both Stage 1 and Stage 2. He restarted the race seventh with 15 laps remaining but was forced to pit lane after right-side contact with the wall. The damage relegated Bowyer to 26th. In July he finished 23rd after enduring two speeding penalties and contact with another car with 50 laps remaining in the race.
- SHR has one points-paying victory at Michigan (Kurt Busch in June 2015) and has 10 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 54 starts.
- 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!