Bowyer Ready For Atlanta

Clint Bowyer

Compared to last year, Clint Bowyer hopes for a little less drama Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but he wouldn’t mind the same result.

Five days after the 2019 season-opening Daytona 500, the NASCAR Cup Series took to the track for Friday qualifying at Atlanta. Instead of flying Thursday night, Bowyer, hoping to spend a few more hours with the family, decided to fly down from his Charlotte, North Carolina-area residence Friday morning in time for the first practice session at 11:35 a.m.

Only problem was the plane he planned to use had a problem and couldn’t fly.

That sent Bowyer into a flurry of travel arrangements that would make actors John Candy and Dan Ackroyd of the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” proud. Bowyer happened to catch a ride with a pilot who was flying to Atlanta for business and the drama ended with Bowyer landing at a downtown Atlanta airport, then driving nearly an hour to the Hampton, Georgia racetrack and arriving just minutes before practice was to begin.

“That was way closer than I ever want to cut it,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “We were all pretty nervous.”

The episode didn’t serve as a distraction.

Hours later, Bowyer put the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang third on the grid by qualifying less than two-tenths of a second behind SHR teammate Aric Almirola, who won the pole. Bowyer went on to finish fifth in Sunday’s 500-mile race. It was his second consecutive top-five and seventh top-10 in 19 career Cup Series starts at Atlanta.

“Our run wasn’t pretty last year but we got a good finish,” Bowyer said. “I knew our car had great speed, obviously, from practice and qualifying. Racing is a different beast, especially at Atlanta. You have to take care of those Goodyear tires. The way I had it, it felt like I was on top of the track skating around too much. We made good air-pressure adjustments and got the grip level back in my racecar to where I could compete. It is just weird. You see cars that are kind of up, cars that are down, cars that are dragging, cars that aren’t. There is no track that we go to anymore that is as slick as this and as hard on tires.”

Bowyer said the rules and tire compound changes over the years at the 1.54-mile oval have changed the way drivers try to preserve their tires.

“Your tire management used to come from your throttle pedal,” Bowyer said. “Now, your speed and everything else are all wide open, so your tire management comes through the way you and your team get the balance on your racecar instead of you and your car doing the managing with the throttle pedal. You don’t lean on the wheel unless you have to and, if you have to, you better not have to for very long. The game has changed. When they took the horsepower away, the tire management and Goodyear changing the tire has drastically changed that aspect.”

This weekend’s race marks the first in the eastern half of the country since the rain-delayed, season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, where Bowyer finished sixth. Since then, the Cup Series held events in Las Vegas, Southern California and Phoenix. Bowyer arrives at Atlanta 13th in points. Last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, he qualified 18th, then charged to the front on race day, running as high as second in the closing stages before finishing a season-best fifth.

Bowyer goes to battle at Atlanta carrying the black-and-red paint scheme of Haas Automation, Inc. Haas Automation is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. Founded by Gene Haas in 1983, Haas Automation manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are built in the company’s 1.1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Are drivers taking precautions with the coronavirus in terms of autographs and things like that?

“I think everybody sees the headlines and reads the news just like anybody else. From what I can tell, there are a lot of unknowns and mixed feelings. Some people say it is bad and the next person says it is nothing but a cold. I treat my fans no differently than the next guy. I am going to shake his hand and appreciate him being here.”

What are your thoughts on Atlanta?

“I love Atlanta. I think everybody likes Atlanta. If you are a racecar driver, you get up on the wheel and are slipping and sliding around. You work your rear end off there. That is what you look for in a racetrack. Vegas, I really struggled there. The hardest thing to do was to not overdrive it. Coming from a dirt background, the harder you drive her, the faster she goes. The harder you work, the faster it goes. With that thing and the speed you are going and the aero platform you have, it is very easy to overdrive the car and blow through the grip in the tires.”

This year, it seems if a car is fast in qualifying, it won’t be fast in the race. Are you experiencing that?

“Really, your aero platform and all that stuff has to jive. Your aero has to communicate and work well with your chassis balance, and vice versa. It’s the total package. It’s not just that you missed it with 100 pounds too much right-rear spring, or 50 too much of left-rear wedge, or a track bar adjustment. It’s all tied together from the aero side of things and the chassis side of things. They really have to work well together. If not, you are spinning your wheels.”

No. 14 Haas Automation Team Report

Round 5 of 36 – Folds of Honor 500 – Atlanta

Car No.: 14 – Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

At Track PR Contact: Drew Brown with True Speed Communication ( ​

No. 14 At-Track Crew Roster

Primary Team:

Driver: Clint Bowyer

Residence: Emporia, Kansas

Crew Chief: Johnny Klausmeier

Hometown: Perry Hall, Maryland

Car Chief: Chad Haney

Hometown: Fairmont, West Virginia

Engine Specialist: Jon Phillips

Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri

Engine Builder: Roush Yates Engines: Mooresville, North Carolina

Spotter: Brett Griffin

Hometown: Pageland, South Carolina

Over-The-Wall Crew:

Fuelman: Rick Pigeon

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

Front Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa

Carrier: Jon Bernal

Hometown: Shelby, North Carolina

Rear Changer: Chris McMullen

Hometown: Canton, Michigan

Jackman: Sean Cotten

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Road Crew:

Transporter Driver: Todd Cable and Bryan Kleinsasser

Hometowns: Shelby, North Carolina, and Bath, South Dakota respectively

Tire Technician: Keith Eads

Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

Engineers: Mike Cook and Marc Hendricksen

Hometowns: Annapolis, Maryland, and Clinton, New Jersey, respectively

Underneath Mechanic: Stephen Gonzalez

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Front End Mechanic: J.D. Frey

Hometown: Ferndale, California

Interior Mechanic: Trevor Adams

Hometown: Naples, Florida

Notes of Interest:

Bowyer owns career totals of 10 wins, three poles, 81 top-five finishes, 216 top-10s and 2,998 laps led in 508 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight NASCAR Xfinity Series victories.

His most recent Cup Series victory came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (June 10, 2018).

His most recent Cup Series pole came at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Feb. 29, 2020.

Bowyer joins Ryan Blaney and Adam Alexander in the FOX Xfinity Series booth Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It marks Bowyer’s third appearance as a commentator in the 2020 season made. The Xfinity Series race begins at 4 p.m. EDT on FS1.

Listen to Clint Bowyer and Barstool Sports Dave Portnoy on the “Rubbin’ is Racing” podcast. Jeff Gluck joins to talk about his tweets comparing Portnoy to the village dragon. Later, Chase Elliott joins the show breaking down his new deal with Hooters Spirits, and Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin call in to break down their wreck at Fontana, and the aftermath. Subscribe for a new episode every Thursday.

Last Week at Phoenix: Bowyer started 18th and charged to the front of the field, running second in the final laps before hanging on and finishing a season-best fifth. He moved to 13th in the driver standings.

Atlanta 2019: Bowyer finished fifth after qualifying third and posting the fastest times in Friday’s and Saturday’s practice sessions. In the race, Bowyer remained in the top-10 throughout the 500 miles, narrowly avoiding disaster by pitting before a cut tire could end his race, and finishing fifth. The top-five, combined with a 20th-place finish at Daytona the previous weekend, moved him to ninth in the points.

Atlanta 2018: Bowyer started third and moved into second place by lap 75. He finished second in the opening stage, logging his best stage finish since Stage 2 at Pocono (Pa.) International Raceway on July 30, 2017. He dropped to ninth in the second stage after complaining of a much looser car. He started the final stage in eighth and moved to fifth by the lap-200 mark. He surged to third on a late restart and looked ready to claim second place as the field took the checkered flag. He ended up third for his best career finish at the 1.5-mile oval. Bowyer said after the race: “There aren’t many places left that can put on a show like that and be able to race all over the place, so I just appreciate this place.”
All-time victory list: With 10 career victories, Bowyer is in a 59th-place tie on the all-time wins list with Donnie Allison and Sterling Marlin.

SHR has four poles and two victories at Atlanta, plus nine top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 39 starts. Kevin Harvick won this race in 2018 and Tony Stewart won the September race in 2010.​


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