DOVER, Del. – His odds are bleak, his future set and his baby turned 1.
It’s been quite a few days for Clint Bowyer.
After securing his future – he’ll drive for HScott Motorsports in 2016 and replace Tony Stewart in 2017 at Stewart-Haas Racing – and celebrating son Cash’s first birthday this week, Bowyer turns his focus to a last-gasp bid to advance in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Bowyer enters Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway last among the 16 Chase drivers. The top 12 will advance. Bowyer is 39 points out of a transfer spot. Realistically, the only way he’ll advance is by winning and his last Cup victory came nearly three years ago.
“Believe it or not, last year’s champion has to win, too,’’ Bowyer said, referring to reigning champion Kevin Harvick, who also could fail to advance to the second round.
Adding to Bowyer’s challenges this weekend is that he’ll be without crew chief Billy Scott, who begins serving his three-race suspension. Michael Waltrip Racing lost its appeal Wednesday and decided not to make one final appeal of NASCAR’s penalty issued two weeks ago. Engineer Dax Gerringer will serve as Bowyer’s interim crew chief.
“You’ve got to do everything you can do to keep up with these teams,’’ Bowyer said of the team’s penalty. “They pushed as hard as they could, and (NASCAR) bit back.’’
Bowyer said the penalty added to what has been a tumultuous period for Michael Waltrip Racing employees, who prepare cars while also looking for work with the team closing after this season.
“It’s been a helluva last two or three months,’’ Bowyer said.
“You go home and it’s been a frustrating year on the track, that’s the hardest thing. I’m very proud of the sponsors, the partners that I’ve had, the people around me, but I’m miserable.
“If I’m not running good, you can go ask my wife, she tends to use other words than miserable, but it’s true. We’re all that way. We’re racers. The reason we’re here at this level is because we’ve had a lot of success, and we’ve always been acclimated to that and used to that. When you don’t have that, it’s pretty trying times.’’
Bowyer says his son has helped ground him this season, especially this week on Cash’s birthday.
“The neatest thing about that is you wake up and you go get him and say ‘Happy Birthday man’ and you know he has no clue,’’ Bowyer said with a smile. “It’s still the same, ‘Change my dirty diaper, give me my damn bottle.’ ’’
Bowyer did take some time that day to go back through the various photos of his son in the past year.
“You see that first day and relive all that,’’ Bowyer said.
It made him smile again.