Clint Bowyer’s NASCAR career hit a crossroad last season. Racing for HScott Motorsports, the 2012 championship runner-up finished 27th in the points standings and only logged three top-10 finishes – both career lows.
Heading into this year as the replacement for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing, there was optimism Bowyer could get his career back on track. So far, he’s experiencing a bounce-back season. He’s already matched his 2016 total with three top-10 finishes and his third-place showing at Auto Club Speedway was his best performance since finishing third at Sonoma Raceway in June of 2015.
Bowyer will attempt to continue his strong start to his 12th full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway – a track where he’s been successful, but has never won.
In 22 starts at the .533-mile high-banked oval, Bowyer claims six top fives, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 15.7.
“You’re really wheeling that thing, trying to keep the grip under your tires, forward bite,” said Bowyer, describing his love of short-track racing. “Trying to keep the thing turning. Fighting the balance of the cars. Fighting your crew chief all race long because you’re whining in the car, and he is tired of hearing you whine. But all those things come together to win that race and be successful.”
Through seven races, Bowyer ranks ninth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 111 points behind leader Kyle Larson. The 37-year-old Kansas native hasn’t finished a season ninth or better since 2013 when he placed seventh in the final standings.
“This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, whether it was my first opportunity in this sport or my last, to drive for this manufacturer, Ford, and the support they are giving us – everyone at Stewart-Haas, the management and sponsors and my teammates,” Bowyer said. “You don’t put enough emphasis on the impact a good teammate can have on you. Drivers capable of winning races and championships. I have two championship-winning drivers (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch) as teammates. Danica (Patrick), everything she brings for our entire sport, let alone the company. This is the opportunity you are giddy about no matter where you are at in your career.”
Don’t take your eyes off of Bowyer, he may be the dark horse this week at Bristol!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!