Clint Bowyer hasn’t always enjoyed the best relationship with Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races Sunday afternoon in the Bank of America 500.
At one time in his career, it might have been one of his least favorite tracks on the circuit. But that changed Oct. 13, 2012.
That night, Bowyer stretched his fuel mileage to earn his eighth career victory and third of that season. It also gave him a new regard for the 1.5-mile oval.
“I don’t know why, since that victory, it gave us a boost of confidence and we’ve seemed to run a lot better at Charlotte,” said Bowyer, whose 14.2 average finish is the ninth best of all full-time drivers in 2017. “This was a terrible track for me – I hated this place. I’m pretty fond of it, anymore. After the last two weeks, I think my Ford should be pretty fast this weekend.”
The Emporia, Kansas native would love a repeat of the 2012 race Sunday when he drives the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). The race will mark Bowyer’s 427th career Cup Series start and his 24th Cup Series start at Charlotte, where he has two top-five finishes and five top-10s in addition to the victory.
Bowyer arrives in Charlotte after finishing sixth Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and seventh the previous weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. It will also mark his second start at Charlotte in an SHR Ford. At the Coke 600 in May, Bowyer started ninth and finished 14th despite several slower cars stretching fuel mileage in the closing laps and finishing ahead of him.
“We just couldn’t get our Ford to turn in May,” said Bowyer, who finished ninth in the non-points All-Star Race held at Charlotte in May. “We tried everything we knew to help the front end but we never got it to where we could race with the leaders.”
|Balancing the car’s handling will likely be an area of work for the No. 14 and all the Cup Series teams when they begin practice Friday afternoon. This weekend’s race returns to the three-day format that includes a Sunday-afternoon race for the first time at Charlotte since 2002.
“I think racing in the heat of the day will make for an interesting race,” he said. “It will probably be hot and slick, and whoever wins is going to have to be perfect.”
Next year’s fall race in Charlotte will be even more challenging. The track 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.
The Charlotte race marks the first NASCAR road-course race in the track’s 58-year history, and it will be the first time the 14-year-old playoff format includes a road course. It will serve as the final race in Round 1 of the 2018 playoffs.
“I think the folks at Charlotte are doing all they can to make this event special,” Bowyer said. “I hope Sunday afternoon means we’ll see a lot of families at the track and we’ll put on a good show. Next year is going to be something on the new track. It’s a pretty cool time and I like the changes.”
With the day race and next year’s change to the “roval,” Charlotte’s future is bright, but maybe for just this weekend Clint Bowyer hopes he can rekindle the past with some 2012 magic.
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on Charlotte?
“Charlotte’s home for a lot of people like my crew guys and their families. It’s so much fun to come to Charlotte and see everybody have their families there, their kids, and watch them do what they do and be proud of them.”
|No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion Team Report
Round 30 of 36 – Bank of America 500– Charlotte
|Car No. 14: Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing
At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication (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 427th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 24th Cup Series start at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where he has a victory, two top-five finishes and five top-10s. His average finish of 14.2 is the ninth best of the full-time drivers in 2017.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 63 top-five finishes, 178 top-10s and 2,360 laps led in 426 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories.
- His most recent Cup Series victory came at Charlotte (Oct. 13, 2012).
- His most recent Cup Series pole came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007).
- SHR has one points-paying victory at Charlotte (Kevin Harvick in October 2014) and has six top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 50 starts.
- 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.
- 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’s Stage Victories In 2017
- Pocono (Pa.) Raceway Stage 2 (July 30, 2017)
- 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!