|KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Feb. 20, 2018) – Racetracks across the Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit have embarked on ambitious capital improvement projects in recent years to make the country’s most popular form of motorsports even more entertaining for fans and competitors.
Tracks committed tens of millions of dollars toward more comfortable stands, track reconfigurations, new fan zones, better cellular and Wi-Fi signals and improved traffic to make for the ultimate experience. So it’s funny when No. 14 Haas Automation Ford driver Clint Bowyer said drivers and the 70,000 fans attending Sunday’s 500-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the biggest winners from an action the track’s management decided not to do in 2018 – repaving the 21-year-old racing surface.
“I thought it was a great idea to patch the up girl and hold on as long as possible because a lot of us aren’t fans of repaves,” said Bowyer who speaks for a majority of the drivers when it comes to a vote on whether to repave the 1.54-mile track in Hampton, Georgia. “Ever since I have been in the sport it seems like Atlanta is the most worn-out track but always produced some of the best racing.”
New track surfaces usually create much better grip and faster speeds that often result in a one-groove race track where passing is difficult resulting in single file racing – something Bowyer says neither drivers or fans enjoy for 500 miles. He says the Atlanta track where the Cup Series will battle on Sunday is just the opposite. Its slick surface is hard to navigate, but offers several grooves and plenty of passing opportunities.
Bowyer said it doesn’t take long to remember he is racing at Atlanta.
“Atlanta is just one of those places where you get on the track and after the first lap you are like ‘oh my something is drastically wrong’ and you almost want to pit. Then you look up and you are like third on the board and it felt like 53rd. It’s crazy how wore out the track is, but that is what makes for good racing and it puts on such a great show for a long time.”
Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) No. 14 team led by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz hope to improve upon their 15th-place finish the team posted at last weekend’s Daytona 500 where Bowyer suffered engine issues midway through the race. Bowyer showed his No. 14 Ford was one of the fastest on the track and after avoiding two multicar accidents appeared ready to race for the lead in the final stages.
“That’s last week and we are on to Atlanta now,” said Bowyer. “It’s a very long season but we’re confident. We had a good Speed Weeks in Daytona and I think that will continue this weekend in Atlanta and on the West Coast swing in the coming weeks.”
Bowyer is still looking for his first top-five at Atlanta, but that isn’t indicative of his performance history at the track. He led 52 laps at Atlanta during the March 2008 race before finishing sixth. The most heartbreaking moment there came in September 2013, when he led 48 of the first 192 laps before engine failure. In total, Bowyer has led 115 laps at Atlanta but only has four sixth-place finishes to show for the effort. Last year he started 25th at Atlanta but quickly showed he had one of the fastest cars on the track by driving to third with just 85 laps remaining. Fender damage led to a cut tire and a brush with the wall with 50 laps remaining. Bowyer dropped to 15th but climbed to 11th by the time the checkered flag fell.
With the combination of SHR, Ford and a strong No. 14 team, Bowyer is a good bet to better that finish Sunday.
“We showed speed last year. If we are that fast again then I think we’ll have something for them.”
|Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is the mindset of drivers and team after leaving Daytona?
“Once we get the Daytona 500 out of the way it’s Atlanta and it’s down to business time. I know that’s weird to say that. Yes, the Daytona 500 is the first race of the year and certainly the biggest race of the year, but it’s so unique from any other race track. We get to Atlanta and it’s that mile-and-a-half fast track, but even it is very unique because it is so worn out and we don’t have anything like that anywhere we go anymore. We just have to get through that, have a good balance on your race car cause it’s so slick you can’t afford to be tight, loose or anything else. We’ll just go and hopefully have another good run there.”
Will stage racing be more important at Atlanta?
“I think once we get down to business and get over the Daytona 500 – our crown jewel event – we all learn the importance of stage points. We will be full bore on getting as many stage points as possible. We saw how (Martin Truex Jr.) did that last year and we’ll try to do the same this year.”
Are you ready to win?
“I have always wanted to win. Once you get a taste of that, there is no going back from that. Last year, it was disappointing. My disappointment last year came from a lack of consistency. That has always been my m.o. and how I was always able to make playoffs if I did or compete for a championship if we did. It was through consistency and knocking on the door and not having bad runs. We were spraying it all over the place last year. We would have good runs and bad runs and I really look for Stewart-Haas to smooth those things out. That manufacturer change was the best thing, in my opinion, that they have done in a long time. You are going to have growing pains because you have to learn a whole new everything. From your database to the aero platform to all that stuff. To have that behind us, the winter, the off-season has been way easier. It was pretty chaotic last year. I think we have weathered that storm and we are ready.”
|No. 14 Haas Automation Team Report
Round 2 of 36 – Folds of Honor 500 – Atlanta
|Car No. 14: Haas Automation 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 435th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 18th Cup Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he has five top-10s and has led 115 laps.
- Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 64 top-five finishes, 180 top-10s and 2,360 laps led in 434 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). SHR has four poles and one victory at Atlanta, plus five top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 31 starts.
- Haas VF-1: This year marks the 30th anniversary of Haas Automation’s very first vertical machining center – the industry-leading VF-1. The “V” in the model name stands for vertical – an industry-standard designation for a vertical mill – and company founder Gene Haas added “F1” to unofficially designate it as the company’s “Very First One.” Introduced at IMTS 88 in Chicago, the Haas VF-1 established an industry milestone by being the very first American-built vertical machining center to sell for less than $50,000, an unheard-of price at that time. With a published price of $49,900 – another industry first – the Haas VF-1 quickly became the industry benchmark for affordable CNC technology. Today, the Haas VF-1 still sells for less than $50,000. In fact, it’s only $46,995, and Haas Automation remains one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC machine tools with an extensive lineup of more than 100 high-value, high-performance products.
- 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.
- 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!