Clint Bowyer is one of the best storytellers in NASCAR. He never seems to be at a loss to come up with great tales and yarns.
During the recent NASCAR Media Tour, Bowyer stopped by the NBC booth to talk about his hopes for 2017, but also decided to take a walk down memory lane.
When asked what it was like to take a lap around the track he cut his racing teeth on and what made it so cool, the Emporia, Kansas native reflected back to the late 1990s and a race he’ll never forget.
“Probably Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City is what put me on the map,” Bowyer began. “Awesome racetrack. It was an asphalt track and I did drive on it when it was asphalt (even though he cut his teeth on dirt track racing).
“A funny story, true story: My friend, Tim Karrick, I had always wanted to drive asphalt and I had been running real well on dirt. The last race of the year was a points race. Tim was running second in the points, Jeff Klem was leading the points and pretty much had it wrapped, all he had to do was finish the race and it was done.
“Tim was down and out and knew Jeff pretty much had it done, so he let me drive his back-up car. I’d never been on asphalt before in my life. Going around there, making laps, all of a sudden the car gets extremely loose.
“I’m asking the spotter, ‘Hey, this thing is so loose, I can’t hold on to it. What’s the deal?’ And he said ‘You’re fine, you’re fine, just keep going.’ The tires wore out. About that time, the left rear tire rolls off the bead. I spin out getting into (turn) three, save it and try to get it restarted and I hear screeching coming and BOOM! I look over and it’s Jeff Klem, the guy that was the points leader.
“The guy that owned my car was racing for a championship. (Klem) hit me, knocked the rear end out of his car, he couldn’t finish the rest of the race, lost the championship, the guy that owned my car won the championship and it was all set up, everybody thought I did it on purpose.
“There was a huge fight in the pits, they hid me in a van, closed the door and locked the doors, and these guys were out there fighting, beating each other with jack handles – and I caused it all. That happened.”
When asked if there was a conclusion to his tale, Bowyer revealed the rest of the story.
“I don’t know, look up the police department in Kansas City, I’m sure there’s a police record of it,” Bowyer said. “It was epic. You should have been there that night. It was unbelievable.”