|The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be a hot, slick, challenging racetrack for the 40 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers competing inSunday’s 24th annual Brickyard 400. But, there are few tracks where raising the trophy at the end of the day means more than it does at the 108-year-old Indy oval.
Clint Bowyer knows a win Sunday afternoon would top the list of his career accomplishments in the Cup Series. Only 13 drivers have their likeness on the Brickyard 400 trophy permanently housed in the track’s infield museum. The Emporia, Kansas native will drive the No. 14 most recently driven at Indianapolis by Hoosier racing legend and Bowyer’s boss Tony Stewart, who retired from NASCAR competition last year.
“I love going to Indianapolis,” said Bowyer, whose No. 14 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will carry the Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers paint scheme this weekend. “The history and tradition behind it is very special. It’s a huge opportunity, and a privilege, to be able to race on it. I understand the significance of Indianapolis. I enjoy not only the city, but also the racetrack. Knowing Tony’s thoughts about Indianapolis only makes it more important we do well this weekend.”
Indy is a difficult track for the stock car crowd, whose cars lack the downforce of their open wheel counterparts in the IndyCar Series. The rectangular oval track includes two 5/8-mile straightaways and four nearly identical quarter-mile turns connected by short, eighth-mile straightaways. The turns are banked about nine degrees – far flatter than the 30-plus-degree banking at tracks like Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and others that are part of the NASCAR schedule.
“Indy is just so unique,” said Bowyer, who has posted two top-five and three-top 10 finishes in 12 starts at Indianapolis. “You’re going so fast. The corners are so flat. You’ve got to have that baby flat to the floor, all the way around. It’s just a hard, hard track to get around.”
He said the key to racing success there is managing risk behind the steering wheel.
“The challenge is trying to be patient,” Bowyer said. “You just have to be patient. You push it to the edge there. You come off of them corners and you’re like, ‘There’s no way. I’m gonna hit the wall. Whoo.’ By the way, I gotta do that 400 more miles.”
Bowyer has more incentive than just winning at the world’s most famous racetrack. He and his No. 14 team led by crew chief Mike (Buga) Bugarewicz are battling for one of the final berths in NASCAR’s 16-team playoffs. Bowyer arrives at Indianapolis 15th in the standings, just 54 ahead of the cutoff for the final playoff spot. A win would secure a berth and make for a much more pleasant summer stretch, but Bowyer knows that without a regular-season win, accumulating every available point is mandatory.
He’s done a good job of that in 2017. The No. 14 team has scored the 10th-most points of any team. It’s a significant accomplishment for Bowyer and Bugarewicz in their first season together and first season with Ford Performance. The Roush-Yates-powered team has posted three second-place finishes and eight top-10s this season.
Last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Bowyer rallied in the closing laps for a seventh-place finish. It marked his third top-10 in the last four races. Bowyer has scored the third-most points of any driver in the last four races that included second-place finishes at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“We go into each weekend thinking we need to win to make the playoffs,” Bowyer said. “Indianapolis is no different.”
If successful this weekend, he’ll join a handful of drivers who’ve won at the Brickyard, secured a 2017 playoff berth and taken a place in the history books.
That’s a lot of incentive.
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Center Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What makes winning at Indianapolis so special?
“Oh, I think it’s the racetrack, man. It’s the history behind it. It’s a hard race. It’s a hard place to get around, as a driver. But it all comes down to the history, the people who have won that race and won at that racetrack before you. That’s why you want to win there so badly.”
|Team Report for the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Center Ford Fusion
Round 20 of 36 – Brantley Gilbert/Big Machine Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis
|Car No. 14: Mobil 1/Rush Truck Center Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing
At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication (704-498-7596 or 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, S.C.
Front Tire Changer: Ira Jo Hussey
Hometown: Manchester, New Hampshire
Front Tire Carrier: Brett Morrell
Hometown: Windham, Maine
Rear Tire Changer: Chris McMullenHometown: Canton, Michigan
Rear Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki
Hometown: New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener
Hometown: Fortuna, California
Jackman: Getty Cavitt
Hometown: Owensboro, Kentucky
Windshield: Justin Peiffer
Hometown: Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Truck Drivers: William “Stump” Lewis and Rob Fink
Hometown: Linkwood, Maryland and Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.
Engineers: Lee Deese, Chris Chidgey and Kenny Oates
Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina, Gainesville, Florida and Huntersville, North Carolina, 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
- Sunday’s race will mark Clint Bowyer’s 417th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 12th Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he has two top-five finishes and three top-10s.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 62 top-five finishes, 175 top-10s and 2,355 laps led in 416 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories. He is 10th in the Cup Series standings after 19 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).
- Tony Stewart and Gene Haas co-own Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), which has recorded 38 victories and 33 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, and Kevin Harvick won June 25 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
- SHR has won once at Indianapolis (Ryan Newman in 2013) and posted five top-fives and 11 top-10s in 23 starts.
- Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is in his second season after overseeing Stewart’s final campaign in 2016. Bugarewicz’s pit strategy played a key role in Stewart’s victory at Sonoma in June 2016. 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 last year’s Cup Series playoffs.
- Bowyer’s Top-Five Finishes In 2017
- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 24)
- Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 25)
- Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (July 1)
- Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (March 26)
- Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (April 9)
- 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!