‘Short-Track Racing Is Our Best Product’
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 16, 2017) – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series visits Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Sunday for the Food City 500 – one of its most popular stops on the circuit.
History has proven that jamming 40 drivers and cars on a .533-mile, high-banked oval with lap speeds at 130 mph leads to an exciting show for race fans and television viewers. It’s the type of short-track racing Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) No. 14 Haas Automation Ford driver Clint Bowyer prefers as a driver and as someone who has long been a NASCAR fan.
“You would have to really sell hard for me not to believe that short-track racing is our best product,” Bowyer said. “It just is, and the reason I say that is because it’s so much fun, so demanding inside the car. The workload is through the roof for the driver and the excitement is there for the fans.”
One of the by-products of short-track racing is the short tempers it often exposes among the competitors. Bowyer admits, during his 404 NASCAR Cup Series starts, he has been on both sides of arguments with fellow drivers when tempers boil over on short tracks. He says each driver is prepared to accept some beating and banging during the race, but the line of what is appropriate racing conduct can be blurry at times.
In fact, that line usually depends on the outcome.
“There’s nothing acceptable on a racetrack if you’re on the losing, short end of that stick,” Bowyer said with a laugh.
Bowyer said when you cross that line with another driver, then it’s up to you to fix it any way you can, even if there isn’t much hope for forgiveness.
“If you wrong somebody on any racetrack, you try your best to right that wrong immediately,” he said. “First thing, you push that push-to-talk button and have your spotter go down there and take the butt-chewing for you and apologize on your behalf. But that doesn’t work. You just hope that if something happens, he’s not going to be able to get it fixed and get back out there and repay you before you have a chance for him to think about it and get over it, maybe, until next week.”
Often more steps are required.
“You try to reach out to him and do all the cheesy stuff you hear us talk about,” he said. “You know that he doesn’t care, doesn’t want to talk to you. The hardest part is calling to apologize to somebody on a Monday morning, knowing damn well he either isn’t going to answer you or could care less what you say. He just really wants to punch you in the face and get it over with.”
Bowyer hopes after 500 laps around Bristol Sunday afternoon, he’ll be holding the winner’s trophy in victory lane instead of worrying about making or taking apology phone calls. He has raced well at Bristol in his career, posting six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s while leading 137 laps in his 22 races.
He and his SHR team arrive in Tennessee on a hot streak. The No. 14 Ford has posted six consecutive top-13 finishes and climbed to ninth in the standings. This season, Bowyer replaced three-time champion Tony Stewart, who retired from NASCAR competition.
Bowyer said he appreciates the early success his new team has enjoyed, but quickly points out there is room for improvement.
“There is nothing in this sport at this level that comes easy,” Bowyer said. “It doesn’t matter the racetrack or circumstances, it is always hard because there is always the next guy working every bit as hard to accomplish the same goal.”
CLINT BOWYER , Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What do you think about Stewart-Haas Racing after seven races in 2017?
“This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, whether it was my first opportunity in this sport or my last, to drive for this manufacturer, Ford, and the support they are giving us – everyone at Stewart-Haas, the management and sponsors and my teammates. You don’t put enough emphasis on the impact a good teammate can have on you. Drivers capable of winning races and championships. I have two championship-winning drivers (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch) as teammates. Danica (Patrick), everything she brings for our entire sport, let alone the company. This is the opportunity you are giddy about no matter where you are at in your career.”
Why do you like short-track racing?
“You’re really wheeling that thing, trying to keep the grip under your tires, forward bite. Trying to keep the thing turning. Fighting the balance of the cars. Fighting your crew chief all race long because you’re whining in the car, and he is tired of hearing you whine. But all those things come together to win that race and be successful.”
Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 8 of 36 – Food City 500 – Bristol
Car No. 14: Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing
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 McMullen
Hometown: 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
Notes of Interest:
* Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford will carry a special decal on the hood this weekend highlighting Haas Automation’s Demo Day 2017 planned for May 10. The annual event provides Haas Factory Outlets an opportunity to feature the latest CNC machines, innovations, and technology from Haas Automation. The outlets will showcase machine cutting demonstrations, as well as educational seminars to explain how the latest Haas machines and options can you make you more efficient and profitable. Current Haas users, potential customers, and anyone in the manufacturing industry is invited to attend and learn how the latest Haas machines can help a business be more productive, efficient, and profitable. For more information, please contact your local Haas Factory Outlet.
* Sunday’s race will mark Clint Bowyer’s 405th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and 23rd career Cup Series start at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he owns six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s and has led 137 laps.
* Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 59 top-five finishes, 170 top-10s and 2,338 laps led in 404 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories. He is ninth in the Cup Series standings after seven 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).
* Bowyer in 2017: A 17-car accident on lap 127 of the Daytona 500 collected Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford and left him with a 32nd-place finish. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bowyer started 24th and climbed to third with 85 laps remaining before contact with another car and a cut tire left him with an 11th-place finish. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the No. 14 Ford team struggled early but improved throughout the race to finish 10th. At Phoenix International Raceway, Bowyer drove from 17th to 13th in overtime. Bowyer repeated his overtime feat at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when he drove from sixth to third in the added laps to record his best finish of 2017. At Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Bowyer overcame a midrace accident to finish seventh. He finished 11th at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, his sixth consecutive top-13 finish.
* Tony Stewart and Gene Haas co-own Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), which has recorded 37 victories and 32 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.
* SHR owns one victory (Kevin Harvick in August 2016), six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 46 starts at Bristol. SHR cars have led 653 laps at the Tennessee oval.
* Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is in his second season after overseeing Tony Stewart’s final campaign in 2016. Bugarewicz’s pit strategy played a key role in Stewart’s victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June 2016. The Lehighton, Pennsylvania native served as the lead engineer on Stewart-Haas Racing’s (SHR) 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 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)