(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
The No. 14 Haas Automation Ford driver for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Clint Bowyer has enjoyed his fair share of success over 22 races in his career at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The Emporia, Kansas native has led 85 laps on his way to three top-five finishes and 10 top-10s on the 1.5-mile oval.
Through that experience, it would be expected he knows well the secrets to success in Texas that he’ll apply once again to Sunday’s 500-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race.
But that’s not the case. Just ask Bowyer.
“Whatever has been the key to success is Texas is probably the opposite of what you will want to do this weekend,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “It’s literally a whole new ballgame.”
That’s because a dramatically different racetrack will greet Bowyer and the NASCAR Cup Series drivers when they begin practice Friday.
The track and pit lane underwent a complete repave since the series last visited in November, and turns one and two were re-profiled, altering the configuration of the oval after its second full repave since it opened in 1997. The first time occurred in the summer of 2001 as the speedway had the racing surface repaved with a granite-based asphalt compound from the original limestone-based asphalt.
All racecar drivers dread repaved racetracks. It dramatically increases grip, which usually limits racing to a single groove that makes passing difficult.
I’m not a fan of repaves,” Bowyer said. “It’s disappointing for everybody, including the tracks, but it was time. Tracks are like a bottle of wine in that they age really well. But, at some point, you pop the cork and drink the wine. After you drink it, the bottle is empty and it’s time for something new.”
One of the reasons for the Texas repaving project was the result of unusually lengthy rain delays that plagued all three NASCAR and IndyCar Series race weekends last year. The aging racing surface made it difficult to dry the track in a timely fashion.
Bowyer applauded Texas track officials.
“I remember being down there last year and thinking we might not get a chance to race on this track,” he said. “They kept pumping, but the water kept seeping up through the cracks and crevices in the racetrack. You can’t have that. You can’t have fans camped out in the infield waiting on something to happen while the sun is out and we can’t get on the track.”
The re-profiling of the speedway reduced the banking in turns one and two by four degrees, decreasing it to 20 degrees. That change added additional racing surface with the width expanding from 60 to 80 feet in that section of the track. The result is a more unique and challenging layout than the previous symmetrical layout of 24 degrees in each turn and racing surface width of 60 feet in those turns.
The changes will prompt a new strategy for Bowyer and his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz-led team that arrives at Texas eighth in the standings as it rides a streak of five consecutive top-13 finishes, including three top-10s.
“In years past, it’s been tire management and finding a groove where you can work, but I really do think that will be all thrown out the window,” Bowyer said. “Now, you will probably need to find the shortest way around the track, which means riding around the bottom will be the fastest way around.”
What are the new secrets to success on the newly repaved Texas Motor Speedway?
“For Texas it’s all about having the sheer speed. On those 1.5-mile tracks, you have to have a car that unloads fast. You can be a little bit tight or a little bit loose but, if that car isn’t making grip, making downforce and having the speed on the racetrack, then you are going to struggle. Unloading a fast hot rod right off the truck is going to be so important because you are going to have to qualify well and have that track position to be a contender.”
- Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford will carry a special decal on the hood this weekend highlighting Haas Automation’s Demo Day 2017 planned for May 10. The annual event provides Haas Factory Outlets an opportunity to feature the latest CNC machines, innovations, and technology from Haas Automation. The outlets will showcase machine cutting demonstrations, as well as educational seminars to explain how the latest Haas machines and options can you make you more efficient and profitable. Current Haas users, potential customers, and anyone in the manufacturing industry is invited to attend and learn how the latest Haas machines can help a business be more productive, efficient, and profitable. For more information, please contact your local Haas Factory Outlet.
- Sunday’s race will mark Bowyer’s 404th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and 23rd career Cup Series start at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, where he owns three top-five finishes and 10 top-10s and has led 85 laps.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 59 top-five finishes, 170 top-10s and 2,338 laps led in 402 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories. He is eighth in the Cup Series standings after six races.
- His most recent Cup Series victory came at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (Oct. 13, 2012).
- His most recent Cup Series pole came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007).
- Bowyer in 2017: A 17-car accident on lap 127 of the Daytona 500 collected Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford and left him with a 32nd-place finish. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bowyer started 24th and climbed to third with 85 laps remaining before contact with another car and a cut tire left him with an 11th-place finish. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the No. 14 Ford team struggled early but improved throughout the race to finish 10th. At Phoenix International Raceway, Bowyer drove from 17th to 13th in overtime. Bowyer repeated his overtime feat at Auto Club Speedway when he drove from sixth to third in the added laps to record his best finish of 2017. Last weekend at Martinsville, Bowyer overcame a midrace accident to finish seventh, posting his fifth consecutive top-13 finish.
- Tony Stewart and Gene Haas co-own Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), which has recorded 37 victories and 31 poles since its inception in 2009. Stewart won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title and Kevin Harvick gave SHR its second title in 2014. SHR’s Kurt Busch won this year’s season-opening Daytona 500.
- SHR owns one victory (Stewart in April 2010), six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 46 starts at Texas. SHR cars have led 535 laps at the Fort Worth oval.
- Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is in his second season after overseeing Tony Stewart’s final campaign in 2016. Bugarewicz’s pit strategy played a key role in Stewart’s victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June 2016. The Lehighton, Pennsylvania native served as the lead engineer on Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) No. 4 entry in 2014 and 2015. The Penn State University graduate was the only rookie crew chief to be part of last year’s Cup Series playoffs.
- Bowyer Cup Series Career Victories:
- 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:
- 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 Stewart-Haas Racing
- 2016 HScott Motorsports
- 2012-2015 Michael Waltrip Racing
- 2006-2011 Richard Childress Racing
- 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!