Looking To Turn Second-Place Finishes into Win at Kentucky
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (July 3, 2017) – Clint Bowyer and many of his fellow drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series readily admit they haven’t quite figured out Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has been competing at the 1.5-mile oval since it joined the circuit in 2011. Whether it was on the rough and bumpy surface prior to its 2016 repave or on the smooth and slick asphalt drivers experienced last year, Kentucky has proven to be a challenging venue.
It will remain so when teams descend upon the track located 40 miles southwest of Cincinnati for Round No. 18 on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
“Kentucky is just a hard track,” Bowyer said. “Ever since I tested there early in my career, it seems like I’ve torn up a lot of equipment. Kentucky is extremely hard on stuff. I think it’s a grip-level thing. It’s so flat getting into turn three, so you get loose. You can’t get it tight enough to get through turn three before you need it loose enough to get through turns one and two.”
Bowyer has enjoyed mixed success at the track that hosted its first Cup Series race in 2011. He’s scored the 15th-most points of all active drivers in the six Cup Series races at Kentucky, highlighted by a third-place finish in 2013.
SHR has won 38 races in 896 Cup Series races over nine seasons but has yet to win at Kentucky or Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Kentucky and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway are the only two Cup Series tracks where SHR co-owner Tony Stewart never won a Cup Series race during his historic career that netted 49 victories and three championships.
“I’d say we have some incentive,” Bowyer said. “I’d love to be the guy who gives SHR its first win at Kentucky and, if you can ever do something that Tony didn’t do, then you know it’s a heck of an achievement.”
What makes Kentucky difficult for the drivers is its ever-changing nature. For years, the track proclaimed its rough surface posed an extra challenge for drivers. In January 2016, a full repave began, featuring increased banking in turns one and two, plus an additional 3,200 feet of SAFER Barriers. The banking in turns one and two increased from 14 to 17 degrees, narrowing the racing groove in the process. Turns three and four remained at their original 14 degrees. In October 2016, the track added another layer to its racing surface in preparation for the 2017 season.
Bowyer said no matter the configuration, success will again come down to the team and driver that bring a fast car and lots of downforce.
“We say this all the time, but you have to have a lot of downforce whenever you run on a new repave,” he said. “It always comes back to the almighty downforce. Hopefully, the aerodynamics guys at SHR have done their homework and we’ll be ready for it.”
Based on recent performances, the No. 14 crew will be ready and one of the favorites. Bowyer and the No. 14 team led by second-year crew chief Mike Bugarewicz have finished second in the last two Cup Series races. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick took the victory in front of late-charging Bowyer June 25 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and Ricky Stenhouse beat Bowyer to the finish line by mere car lengths Saturday night at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Saturday night marked the third second-place finish for the No. 14 team that has posted four top-five performances in 2017 and scored the 10th-most points. But in NASCAR’s playoff points system, Bowyer is 15th of the 16 qualifiers, only 27 points ahead of 17th-place Joey Logano. Bowyer said he appreciates how well the team is running but, with only nine races before the playoffs begin, anything less than a victory each weekend is a disappointment.
“Second sucks, but it’s better than third,” Bowyer said. “We finished second two weeks in a row, so that’s a huge confidence booster for our team but, nonetheless, the pressure cooker is turning up. You hope you keep riding this wave and turn one of those seconds into a win.”
He’ll do that if he figures out Kentucky.
Clint Bowyer: Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Do you like going to Kentucky?
“Kentucky is a great market and a fun fan base. We don’t get over there very often, so it’s cool to go to Kentucky and see everyone from that part of the country.”
Rush Truck Centers On The No. 14 At Kentucky Speedway
The No. 14 Ford Fusion will carry the Rush Truck Centers paint scheme this weekend at Kentucky. Rush operates the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in North America and is a longtime sponsor of SHR. Rush has installed telematics devices on SHR’s fleet of eight Peterbilt Model 389s and five Ford F-450 trucks.
With a telematics device installed on a truck and an app on a mobile device, drivers and fleet managers can access a dashboard that displays vehicle and driver performance, electronic logs, location and overall vehicle health. In addition to telematics, SHR is supported by the RushCare Service Connect team, which monitors and can alert the team to any performance issues, fault codes or needed maintenance on any of their trucks, allowing them to transport the necessary parts and equipment from race to race. SHR hauler drivers access the telematics app on their smartphone or tablet, eliminating the need for an additional display in the truck’s cab. Since the app is on their mobile device, they can access the telematics dashboard whenever and wherever is most convenient. The app is compliant with the electronic logging device requirements expected later this year and makes it easy for drivers to generate logs, as well as vehicle and trailer inspection reports.
Gary Geissman, SHR’s fleet manager, said a mobile technician from Rush Truck Centers was able to repair minor problems at the race shop after telematics detected issues on the trucks. “Knowing exactly when an issue occurs and the severity of it can allow you to prevent a larger issue down the road,” he said. “Having the ability to address an issue immediately, or knowing if it can wait for scheduled service, keeps our drivers safe and allows them to better manage their trips.”
Geissman explained there are other benefits, including workforce management for his staff. “With any of the haulers, we have 20 to 30 people waiting for the truck to return to our shop,” he said. “With this technology, I can tell exactly what time the hauler will arrive, so the team can be ready.”
Team Report for the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion
Round 18 of 36 – Kentucky 400 – Kentucky
Car No. 14: Rush Truck Centers 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:
* Saturday’s race will mark Clint Bowyer’s 415th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and seventh Cup Series start at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where he has one top-five finish and one top-10.
* Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 62 top-five finishes, 174 top-10s and 2,355 laps led in 414 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories. He is 10th in the Cup Series standings after 17 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).
* 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.
* Kentucky and Talladega (Ala) Superspeedway are the only two tracks on the Cup Series circuit where SHR has yet to win. The team has scored three top-five finishes and seven top-10s at Kentucky.
* 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
o Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 24)
o Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 25)
o Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (July 1)
o Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (March 26)
o Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (April 9)
* 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)