It’s clear the former Michael Waltrip Racing teammates admire each other. Bowyer admires the career Martin had, while Martin compares Bowyer to an old school driver like himself.
Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford is carrying a 1990 Martin paint scheme this weekend and that took up much of the conversation during the media session.
“Man, it is really, really cool,” Martin said when asked about the car carrying sponsorship from Carolina Ford Dealers, which Martin’s car also carried. “It was so amazing when they pulled the cover off of it at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“The first thing I thought of was the setup that I ran in that old car, and how it was pretty much unbeatable at Darlington. Clint’s a man to take it to Victory Lane,”
Bowyer quickly interjected, “By the way, we do have that setup in the car. I sure hope it was a good one.”
Even though there’s two decades between the pair, Martin, 58, considers Bowyer, 38, “one of the oldest school and coolest dudes in NASCAR today, so it’s pretty neat.”
Bowyer joined Stewart Haas Racing this season, replacing the retired Tony Stewart. He considers this year’s throwback weekend the best because he gets to honor Martin, who was one of his heroes as a youngster.
“That’s what’s so special about this weekend in Darlington is being able to pay tribute to all of our heroes that paved the way for all of us to have this opportunity,” Bowyer said. “Mark Martin, a teammate of mine back in 2012, was one of the neatest things that ever happened in my career.
“And then just his story from that Midwestern kid that grew up beating up and down the road, making a name for himself in those late models, the ASA Series, and then making the most of those opportunities and becoming a legend of this sport and a Hall of Famer. So to be able to pay tribute to him means a lot to me personally.”
Bowyer appreciates Martin’s racing style perhaps more than most drivers because he has a similar style.
“It’s kind of that old thing,” Bowyer said. “You see a guy race that aggressive, you think he’s gonna get out and be a grizzly bear and this little guy gets out and you’re like, ‘Man, he sure drives like a grizzly bear.’
“That’s the way he’s always been. He attacks any race track that you put him on. He gets everything there is to get out of a race car and always has. I think his work ethic and everything about him is what makes him so unique and special and stand out amongst the rest over the years.”