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Clint Bowyer dishes on white whales, lost wallets, lightning strikes and bustin’ a move

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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.”

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NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings

 

 

Kurt Busch win capped off big racing weekend for family

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After hopping from the door of his No. 1 Chevrolet Sunday night, Kurt Busch let out a primal scream.

The source of his emotion?

“20 years of agony and defeat” at the his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had been replaced by “triumph.”

After the fortunate timing of a caution and pit strategy Sunday night, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the final 26 laps and visited LVMS’ Victory Lane for the first time, a day after his brother Kyle Busch experienced a special win.

There was plenty more for the 42-year-old driver to celebrate. He’d entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings. But with his first win in 46 races, Busch became the first driver to plant in his flag in the Round of 8.

But the Las Vegas native’s focus was on the 1.5-mile track, which he’d seen evolve from a “desert gravel pit” into the site of two NASCAR race weekends each year.

“This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built … when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I’m like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars (and race there). And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother (Kyle Busch) to make it in racing.

“For me it was a hobby. I never knew I’d get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas, took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.”

Busch made his first NASCAR start on the Las Vegas oval in 2001 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Between then and Sunday, he won 31 Cup races, the 2004 championship and the 2017 Daytona 500.

But his home track eluded him until his 21st year competing on the sport’s top circuit.

Busch said Sunday’s win is “right there underneath” his Daytona win and the championship.

“Any time you win, it’s special,” Busch said. “But to do it in front of my hometown crowd and nobody was there (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the people that I see every time I come to Vegas and I get to say thank you and I can’t right now, that’s the hardest part. So this one is easily ramping up to being my third most favorite win ever.

“Right now it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”

The Busch family got to celebrate more than one win over the weekend.

The night before Kurt’s Vegas breakthrough, a third generation racer got his first taste of victory.

Kyle and Samantha Busch’s son, Brexton, won his first karting race and celebrated with his parents in Victory Lane.

“It’s so much fun to watch him and just to see his excitement and how much he enjoys going to the race track and being with is friends,” Kyle Busch said after his sixth-place finish Sunday. “It’s three generations worth, I guess. My dad (Tom) did it, myself and Kurt and now him. It’s pretty fun to just be out there. My dad is kind of the truck driver, the team manager, the crew chief, the lead mechanic and all that stuff on his kart.

“He’s got a big task at hand in order to get it all ready to go and get us to the race track every week. It’s been fun to see (Brexton) and to see how excited he was when he was able to win and beat the other competition that was out there and to see his joy. I told him, ‘Whatever that feeling is, whatever you’re feeling, however that sits in you, that’s feasible, that’s possible a lot more often than just one time. So don’t rest on just getting one, we gotta go out there and fight for more.'”

Kurt Busch wasn’t there for his nephew’s win, but he got all the details from his sister-in-law as they flew to Las Vegas.

“It definitely felt like a generational shift was happening,” he said. “But maybe not. Maybe not. This old guy has still got it going on.”