| Clint Bowyer’s been racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 12 years and admittedly he was lost last Friday.
“I was freaking out all day,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “I literally kept looking at my phone. I looked at it in the morning and I looked at it at about lunch. I was over at the lake this week with my family at a family vacation and I looked at my phone at lunch and I’m like, ‘This doesn’t feel right.’ I looked at it again at about 3 o’clock and I’m like, ‘It’s Friday. We’re missing something.’ ”
Bowyer’s discomfort came as NASCAR experimented with a shortened race-weekend schedule at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, giving drivers and teams Friday off, then combining practice, qualifying and the race on Saturday and Sunday.
NASCAR will stage another two-day format this weekend when the Cup series visits Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Drivers will practice on the “Tricky Triangle” Saturday, then qualify at11:30 a.m. ET and race at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Watkins Glen (N.Y) International will implement a similar schedule for its event the following weekend.
Count Bowyer as a strong supporter of the new format, citing the demands on race teams to run 38 races each season, plus several midweek test sessions throughout the year.
“It is welcomed,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, they all need to be this way. There’s no reason to string them out three, four days – sometimes a week. We have events that are a week long or even longer – two weeks long at a racetrack. In today’s day and age, I just don’t see a need for it, especially when you can do it in two days like we’re doing this weekend. But, what a neat deal. I think it’s been 12 years I’ve been doing this and I’ve never been home on a Friday. There were actually people out. People went to dinner. There were normal, living things going on while I was still at home.”
Whether it’s a two- or three-day format, Bowyer knows the next few race weekends will be key to his 2017 season. He and his No. 14 Nature’s Bakery/Feeding America Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) led by crew chief Mike “Buga” Bugarewicz are battling for one of the final berths in NASCAR’s 16-team playoffs. Only six races remain in the regular season before the playoffs beginSept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
After an accident in the closing laps of Sunday’s Brickyard 400 left him with a 30th-place finish, Bowyer arrives at Pocono 17th in the 16-driver playoff standings, just 33 points behind the cutoff for the final playoff spot. A win would secure a berth, but Bowyer knows that without a regular-season win, accumulating every available point is mandatory.
He’s done a good job of earning points in 2017. The No. 14 team has scored the 11th-most points of any team. It’s a significant accomplishment for Bowyer and Bugarewicz in their first season together at SHR and first season with Ford Performance. The Roush-Yates-powered team has posted three second-place finishes and eight top-10s this season.
Pocono could be the track where Bowyer, an eight-time winner, visits victory lane for the first time in 2017. He’s earned two top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 23 starts at the 2.5-mile track. In June, Bowyer finished 17th after wall contact on lap 58 forced a trip to the pits for repairs. It appeared Bowyer had a top-10 finish in his sights before incurring damage.
“I thought we had a pretty good car on long runs at Pocono last time, but we got into the wall and that ruined our race,” he said. “We got a lap down but battled back. Our guys didn’t give up and we got an OK finish. ”
Until last week’s race, Bowyer has enjoyed a recent streak of success that includes second-place finishes at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“We think we have to win now if we want to make the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve always thought that, but what happened at Indy makes us even more certain. Winning this weekend in Pocono would make the rest of the summer a lot more fun.”
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery/Feeding America Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|How Much of NASCAR today is a team sport?
“It’s a total team effort. There is no ‘I’ in any organization or any number on any one of these cars. It’s a total team effort and, if any one driver thinks that they’re leading the charge any more than the other, I urge them to never forget the team that’s standing behind them.”
|Team Report for the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery/Feeding America Ford Fusion
Round 21 of 36 – Overton’s 400 – Pocono
|Car No. 14: Nature’s Bakery/Feeding America 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 418th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 24th Cup Series start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, where he has two top-five finishes and nine 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 11th in the Cup Series standings after 20 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 two points-paying victories at Pocono (Tony Stewart in June 2009 and Kurt Busch in June 2016) and has 19 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s in 46 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)
- Nature’s Bakery: Nature’s Bakery is a snacks and food brand that supports health-conscious living and active lifestyles with four pinnacles of achieving balance – nature, activity, nutrition and community. Nature’s Bakery announced a partnership with Feeding America® that will see the company donate funds to provide 1.65 million meals* for families struggling with hunger. In addition, Nature’s Bakery will supplement the donation to Feeding America with an additional 135,000 pounds of Nature’s Bakery food products donated to select foods banks in the Feeding America nationwide network. As part of the company’s commitment to help end hunger, Nature’s Bakery is leveraging its sponsorship of SHR to help create national awareness for the cause by featuring Feeding America logos on the No. 14 this weekend. Nature’s Bakery will also present donation checks to local food bank representatives at upcoming races. *$1 helps provide 11 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member foods banks. Nature’s Bakery guarantees a minimum of 1,650,000 meals to Feeding America® and member foods banks from June 1, 2017 to June 1, 2018.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!