Clint Bowyer’s report card at the end of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will be pretty straightforward – anything less than a victory or a berth in the playoffs will be a failing grade in the eight-time race winner’s mind.
Does that mean there’s pressure going into 2018? Sure, he says, just like it’s been every year since he started full-time Cup Series racing in 2006.
“Every year is a make-or-break year in this business. It doesn’t matter if it is your first year or your third year or beginning your 13th year,” said Bowyer, who finished second in the 2012 championship and third in the 2007 title chase but just missed a playoff berth in 2017. “There is always that pressure and it is always on. Nobody puts that on us, we put it on ourselves. We are competitors.”
The 2017 season was one of “almosts” at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Bowyer, who replaced retiring three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car. The 38-year-old native of Emporia, Kansas finished second three times and third twice, plus he owned a 15.5 average finish –11th best among full-time drivers. Despite running well, he and his crew chief Mike “Buga” Bugarewicz-led team believe they need to run even more consistently and reach victory lane in 2018.
“Buga and I expect to win races and make the playoffs,” Bowyer said. “We had the same goal last year and we’ll have the same goal this year. There’s no doubt in my mind we can make the playoffs and we need to get back to victory lane. It’s been too long and it’s time go there again.”
Bowyer will have the resources to accomplish those goals in 2018. SHR owns 39 victories in 972 starts since Stewart and Gene Haas began the organization that celebrates its 10th season in 2018. Roush-Yates Engines will power his No. 14 Fords again for a veteran group of mechanics and pit crew. Off the track, the colors of Rush Truck Centers will adorn the No. 14 entry for several races in 2018, including the Feb. 18 Daytona 500 season opener.
Bowyer will drive a Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford paint scheme at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“Our Daytona paint scheme has a story behind it,” Bowyer said. “A great business relationship has grown between ExxonMobil and Rush Truck Centers’ 100-plus dealerships. You’ll see co-branded cars and they are both seeing big wins that came from the mutual SHR sponsorships. That’s how this business works, now. You have to do as well off the track as you do on the track.”
Bugarewicz said that, as much as anything else, familiarity should pay dividends for the No. 14 team in 2018. Both he and Bowyer are intense competitors often combining for interesting radio chatter during races. The Pennsylvanian says that intensity is all about wanting to win.
“We are continuing to build on that relationship,” the third-year crew chief said. “We’ve had a year to fill our notebook. There’s still a lot of work to be done on everybody’s part on the No. 14. We’re going to keep working hard. We didn’t get a victory like we wished for last year but ran in the top-10 most of the year. It was kind of tough to be outside looking in at the end of the season last year. None of us on the team were happy about missing the playoffs. We want to work and we want to get better. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to get wins, be more consistent and get to where we want to go.”
The points-paying season begins with the 60th running of the Daytona 500 and Bowyer could think of no better way to kick off the season than with a victory in the sport’s most prestigious event. SHR teammate Kurt Busch won last year’s Daytona 500 and Bowyer would like to make it consecutive victories in the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.”
“Can you imagine what it would be like if I won the Daytona 500?” Bowyer said with a laugh. “I think NASCAR would have a tough time finding me for those New York interviews on Monday and Tuesday. You know those yachts in the harbor in Daytona? I wouldn’t care whose it was, I’d take one of them to the Caribbean.”
Bowyer should be one of the favorites when the green flag drops. The race will mark Bowyer’s 434th Cup Series start and his 25th Cup Series start at Daytona, where he has four top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. Two of his eight career Cup Series victories have come on restrictor-plate tracks, and he finished second at Daytona last July.
The report card at the end of the year will focus on wins and playoffs, and a Daytona 500 victory would most certainly earn Bowyer an “A” grade for his first test of the 2018 season.
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|Mike Bugarewicz: Crew Chief of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion:
|What do you think of your chances in the Daytona 500?
“The SHR speedway program last year was pretty strong. Kurt (Busch) won the Daytona 500 and Clint finished second there in July. We felt like, every superspeedway race, we had strong cars. I like Daytona and Clint loves Daytona. I see this as our first opportunity to win and that’s exciting. We want wins and contend for a championship.”
|No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion Team Report
Round 1 of 36 – Daytona 500 – Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
|Car No. 14: Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion Team Report
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, South Carolina
Front Tire Changer: Daniel Coffey
Hometown: Granite Falls, North Carolina
Rear Tire Changer: Shannon Myers
Hometown: Salisbury, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki
Hometown: New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Gas Man: James “Ace” Keener
Hometown: Fortuna, California
Jackman: Ernie Pierce
Hometown: San Diego, California
Windshield: Chris Trickett
Hometown: Grafton, West Virginia
Truck Drivers: William “Stump” Lewis and Rob Fink
Hometown: Linkwood, Maryland and Baltimore, Maryland, respectively.
Engineers: Lee Deese and Chris Chidgey
Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida, 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 434th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 25th Cup Series start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where he has four top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 64 top-five finishes, 180 top-10s and 2,360 laps led in 433 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories.
- 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).
- The 2018 season marks the 10th anniversary of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). The Kannapolis, North-Carolina-based team is co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and has recorded 39 victories and 35 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 last year’s Daytona 500, and Harvick won June 25 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
- Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is in his third season as a Cup Series crew chief. He oversaw Tony Stewart’s final campaign in 2016 and his pit strategy played a key role in Stewart’s victory at Sonoma in June 2016. Bugarewicz and Bowyer’s first season together in 2017 saw the duo post the 11th-best average finish of all full-time teams. 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 the Cup Series playoffs in 2016.
- 2017 Speedweeks: Bowyer finished second in his qualifying race and started sixth in the 2017 Daytona 500. He raced as high as second, but a tight-handling car dropped him to midpack. Bowyer and Trevor Bayne made contact on the track late in the first stage, causing right-rear damage. The No. 14 crew made extensive repairs to the right side during the caution. Bowyer raced up to ninth, but a 17-car accident on lap 127 triggered by two other cars collected the No. 14 Ford. Bowyer’s car came to rest in the grass, where he restarted his car and drove to pit lane. The crew determined the damage sustained was too great to continue, leaving Bowyer with a 32nd-place finish.
- Rush Truck Centers is the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in the United States, with more than 100 dealership locations in 21 states. These vehicle centers, strategically located in high-traffic areas on or near major highways, represent truck and bus manufacturers, including Peterbilt, International, Hino, Isuzu, Ford, Mitsubishi, IC Bus and Blue Bird. They offer an integrated approach to meeting customer needs — from sales of new and used vehicles to aftermarket parts, service and collision repair plus financing, insurance, leasing and rental. The company also provides alternative fuel systems, telematics products and other vehicle technologies.
- 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)
- Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in Fort Worth (Oct. 29)
- 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:
- 2017 18th
- 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- Present Stewart-Haas Racing
- 2016 HScott Motorsports
- 2012-2015 Michael Waltrip Racing
- 2006-2011 Richard Childress Racing
- Bowyer Xfinity Series Championship:
- 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!