A white whale is both a real-life ocean mammal and more recently has become an increasingly popular metaphor to describe a goal someone chases or seeks to obtain.
It’s now also a great punchline from Clint Bowyer.
During Wednesday’s Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway, Bowyer was asked about his 0-for-14 record in the Great American Race.
For the record, his best finish in the 500 has been fourth in both the 2009 and 2010 events. So when an inquisitive reporter asked Bowyer about his winless streak, the question posed was “Is the Daytona 500 your white whale?”
The farm boy from Emporia, Kansas seemed a little stumped by the question.
But his reply was priceless.
“Man, I just got here and that is the second question and you come with that? You couldn’t wait a little bit to punch me in the face?” Bowyer said. “I don’t know the white whale thing. We didn’t have whales in Kansas. They didn’t offer that terminology in Kansas.
“That was a long ways from our reality. Maybe a horseshoe or something like that. You have to redneck it up a little bit for me.”
Bowyer is one of the best cut-ups on the Cup circuit – he’s learned some great lessons from his boss, Tony Stewart – but he also is a realist. Bowyer turns 41 in less than four months and understands he probably has only a few more years left in his racing career.
He also knows his chance to win NASCAR’s biggest race continues to fade with each passing year.
“It is time, you know,” Bowyer said of his winning the 500. “Yes, you think about it. I didn’t think about it early in my career.
“Early on you just want to win it so bad but then the years click by and you think about how that opportunity only comes once a year and I want to win that race. That is the one that you want to win. The thing is, the prestige is still there and the skill set that it takes to win has changed.
“You talk about the years, think about the way it was when I first started and what you had to overcome with handling and slipping and sliding around and a gutsy move. Now it is survival. You have to find that hole that is a safe hole to survive and make it to the end. You have to get there. It literally is the hardest thing to do, to get to the end of that race with all four fenders on it so you have an opportunity.”
Answering questions about white whales or his chances of winning the 500 is only the latest in a string of unusual experiences that Bowyer has recently gone through.
On Monday’s day off from racing at Daytona, Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski and their families visited Disney World in nearby Orlando. The group found someone’s wallet near a bench on Main Street.
Through a little investigative work, Bowyer & Co. reunited the wallet with its rightful owner.
Clint picks up the story from there, essentially repaying a good deed from when he also recently lost his wallet:
“I had that happen to me not long ago. We were at a sporting event over the winter and long story short, we were in an Uber that wasn’t ours. That guy got out and it was traffic jam city and I paid. The reason I knew where my wallet was is because I paid with it but I set it on my lap and we jumped out, a bunch of us in a hurry. I knew where my wallet was, I just didn’t know how to find it.
“Two days later that guy (Uber driver) found me on social media and forever I will return that favor. Not only was it still there with all the money in it and everything. He asked how I wanted him to get it to me and I told him, ‘I think there is about $500 in it, you can take it all and ship to me or I will come get it and you can have half.’ He goes, ‘I will ship it to ya.’ That was the best thing that happened to me in a long time.”
Bowyer was happy to make the wallet owner’s day by returning it.
“Can you imagine being at Disney World with your kids and this is something people save for years for and here we are, we find this wallet that has his license in it, (his wife’s) license in it, both of their credit cards,” Bowyer said. “I just knew we had to find this guy because he was super screwed. Literally the power of social media. I think it was 10 minutes. I will give you 12 minutes max and the guy was right in front of us. We found him.”
To round out the triumvirate of oddities that Bowyer has experienced lately, his pool was struck by lightning recently.
“That was the craziest thing ever,” Bowyer said. “We were home and it was flooding a lot and the lake behind our house was rising really fast. We were looking out the window and BOOM! It shook the house.
“It wasn’t like a thunder shake, it was like something hit the house. There was a really bright flash in the back windows, literally right where we were looking. The TV and lights went out and then came back on. That was a good sign from what I know about lightning strikes.
“I called my brother and said, ‘Man, I don’t know if this thing is on fire or what but we just got hit, I know we did. I am telling you that something around this house, close got hit.’ I got to looking and looked out the back and there is a slide that we have for the kids to slide in the pool and the water thing that sprays was shooting like a geyser up out of that. I was like, ‘Oh damn, it hit the slide.’ I looked over by the pool equipment and there was smoke coming up and I saw the shrapnel over there and I found it man. Since then, my caretaker just called and said that the heat and air is out too. I think we have bigger problems. Lightning sucks.”
The driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang was also asked about a new TV commercial that debuted today and featured a “dancing” Bowyer (much of it from a stand-in).
“Well, this kid showed up didn’t even resemble me and I was like, ‘You are going to make him look like me or me look like him and do this rave thing you speak of?’” Bowyer said. “But they nailed it. Kevin (Harvick) and I were talking about it walking in here. That is the power of Hollywood. You land out there and that is what they can do. They can make a dancer out of even me. Little old me.
“I had to try several (dance moves). I had to attempt them because I had to lead into that but hell no, I can’t move that fast. I am 40 for crying out loud.”