Clint Bowyer knows the reason why NASCAR’s road-course racing has gained in popularity in recent years. It’s the same reason the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has added another road-course race to its schedule next year and could add even more in the future.
“Road-course racing is just an emotional roller coaster that you just flat don’t know the outcome of until that rag finally falls,” said Bowyer, who grew up racing on the dirt tracks of Kansas but has become one of the sport’s better road-course aces.
“It’s just a hell of a show for the fans, the television audience and even the drivers. Man, they’re just so difficult. They’re so out of the ordinary. There are so many opportunities. That’s the thing about a road course, that there are not a lot of opportunities to pass, but there are a lot of opportunities. If somebody makes a mistake, like if you catch pit road as a caution’s coming out, there are just so many things to capitalize on one of those road courses.”
For years, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y) International have been the only two road courses on the Cup Series schedule. But in 2018, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway will run its September race on its “roval” – a new 13-turn, 2.4-mile road course incorporating part of the infield and all but 400 feet of Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval on which drivers will race 500 kilometers over 130 laps.
How serious is the sport taking to road-course racing? The Charlotte race marks the first NASCAR road-course race in the track’s 58-year history and will serve as the final race in Round 1 of the 2018 playoffs – the first time the 14-year-old playoff format includes a road course.
That’s good news for Bowyer, whose road-course statistics are impressive. He finished second at Sonoma in June behind Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick. It marked the 23rd road-course start of his Cup Series career. That record includes a victory, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.
|He’ll get his chance to improve upon those stats this weekend when the Cup Series visits Watkins Glen for the final road-course race of the season. Historically, Bowyer hasn’t enjoyed the success at Watkins Glen that he has at Sonoma. He’s earned one top-five and four top-10s on the historic Upstate New York track near the southern tip of Seneca Lake that has hosted everything from the Formula One United States Grand Prix for 20 years to a 1973 rock concert that drew more than 600,000.
Bowyer said Sonoma success doesn’t equate to similar success at Watkins Glen because the tracks aren’t very similar beyond the fact both are road courses.
“You are way more at ease at Sonoma,” he said. “It’s a finesse, rear-grip, take-care-of-your-tires, type of track. I think it is a much more technical track. When you go to Watkins Glen, it’s a ton of fun but it’s a whole different beast. It’s wide-open. It’s balls-to-the-wall. You have to be extremely good on braking and have a fast racecar. Both of them are a ton of fun and so unique. That is the thing. We race and chase each other in circles non-stop. It is refreshing to have a break like this when we come to these road courses.”
Bowyer has plenty to accomplish this weekend when his Ford Fusion carries the Five Star Urgent Care paint scheme in practice Saturday and qualifying and racing Sunday. He arrives in New York 17th in the 16-driver playoffs, just 17 points behind Matt Kenseth, who holds the final playoff position. A victory automatically earns Bowyer a spot in the playoffs that begin in just five races. If he doesn’t win, he knows every point matters as the regular season draws to a close.
With all that on the line, the Watkins Glen race should be just like Bowyer likes his racing – an emotional roller coaster.
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Five Star Urgent Care Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|What are some more of the differences between Watkins Glen and Sonoma road courses?
“The consequences just seem far greater at Watkins Glen than they are at Sonoma. If you hit at Sonoma, it’s like, ‘Man that hurt.’ You hit at Watkins Glen, you might be telling ’em about it a couple days later when it comes back to you.”
|Team Report for the No. 14 Five Star Urgent Care Ford Fusion
Round 22 of 36 – I LOVE NEW YORK 355k – Watkins Glen
|Car No. 14: Five Star Urgent Care 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 419th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 12th Cup Series start at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where he has one top-five finish and four top-10s.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 62 top-five finishes, 176 top-10s and 2,360 laps led in 418 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories. He is 10th in the Cup Series standings after 21 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 25at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
- SHR has one points-paying victory at Watkins Glen (Tony Stewart in August 2009) and has five top-five finishes and seven 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)
- Five Star Urgent Care, with 12 locations across New York, is one of the state’s fastest-growing urgent care providers with many more new locations planned throughout 2017 and 2018. Five Star Urgent Care provides treatment for all non-threatening ailments and injuries—from colds and flu to sprains, strains and more.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM SITLL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!