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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR Clash heat race lineups

0 Comments

LOS ANGELES — Justin Haley, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and William Byron will start on the pole for their heat races Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

There will be nine cars in each of the four heat races. Here’s a look at each of the those heat races.

Clash heat race starting lineups

Heat 1

This heat has four drivers who did not make last year’s Clash: Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon. Almirola starts second, Bowman third, Buescher eighth and Dillon ninth. This heat also has defending Clash winner and reigning Cup champion Joey Logano, who starts fifth.

Heat 2

Richard Childress Racing teammates Busch and Austin Dillon start 1-2. This race has five former champions: Busch, Kyle Larson (starting third), Kevin Harvick (fourth), Martin Truex Jr. (fifth) and Chase Elliott (eighth).

Heat 3

Toyota drivers will start first (Bell), second (Denny Hamlin) and fifth (Tyler Reddick). Ryan Blaney starts last in this heat after his fastest qualifying lap was disallowed Saturday.

Heat 4 

Byron will be joined on the front row by AJ Allmendinger in this heat. The second row will have Ross Chastain and Bubba Wallace.

The top five in each heat advances to Sunday night’s Clash. Those not advancing go to one of two last chance qualifying races. The top three in each of those races advances to the Clash. The 27 and final spot in the Clash is reserved for the driver highest in points who has yet to make the field.

Justin Haley tops field in Clash qualifying

0 Comments

LOS ANGELES — Justin Haley posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s qualifying for the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Haley will start the first of four heats on the pole after a lap of 67.099 mph (13.413 seconds). The four heat races will be held Sunday afternoon, followed by two last chance qualifying races and then the Busch Clash on Sunday night.

Clash qualifying results

“I feel pretty confident about where we are,” Haley said. “I’m not sure why we’re so good here.”

The top four qualifiers will start on the pole for their heat race.

Kyle Busch, who was second on the speed chart with a lap of 66.406 mph, will start on the pole for the second heat. That comes in his first race with Richard Childress Racing after having spent the past 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Christopher Bell, third on the speed chart with a lap of 66.328 mph, will start on the pole for the third heat. William Byron, fourth in qualifying with a lap of 66.196 mph, will start on the pole in the fourth heat race.

The pole-sitters for each of the four heat races last year all won their heat. That included Haley, who was third fastest in qualifying last year and won the third heat from the pole.

Ty Gibbs was not allowed to qualify because of unapproved adjustments his team made while making repairs to his car after the door foam caught fire during practice. NASCAR deemed that the Joe Gibbs Racing team made adjustments to the car not directly related to the damage.

Ryan Blaney‘s fastest qualifying lap was disallowed after he stopped the car in Turn 4 and turned it around and to go back to the backstretch and build speed for his final lap. NASCAR disallowed the time from that final lap for the maneuver.

Section 7.8.F of the Cup Rule Book states: “Unless otherwise determined by the Series Managing Director, drivers who encounter a problem during Qualifying will not be permitted to travel counter Race direction.”

The top five finishers in each of the four 25-lap heat races advance to the Clash. The top three in the two 50-lap last chance races move on to the Clash. The final spot in the 27-car field is reserved for the driver highest in points not yet in the field.

Chase Briscoe, AJ Allmendinger in first on-track conflict of the season.

0 Comments

LOS ANGELES — The first on-track conflict of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season?

Did you have Chase Briscoe and AJ Allmendinger?

They made contact during Saturday night’s practice session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash.

Busch Clash practice results

Briscoe explained what happened from his point of view.

“(Allmendinger) was slowing down so much on the straightaway to get a gap (away from other cars),” Briscoe told Motor Racing Network. “I felt like I was beside him pretty far down the straightaway. I got in there a little hot for sure, but, honestly, I thought he was going to give it to me since we were in practice. Went into (Turn) 3 and he just drove me straight into the fence. Definitely frustrating. … Just unfortunate. We don’t have a single back-up car out there between the four of us at SHR. 

“Definitely will set us behind quite a bit. Just chalk it up in the memory blank.”

Asked what happened with Briscoe, Allmendinger told MRN: “He ran inside of me, so I made sure I paid him back and sent him into the fence.

“It’s practice. I get it, I’m struggling and in the way, but come barreling in there. I just showed my displeasure for it. That’s not the issue. We’re just not very good right now.”

Earlier in practice, Ty Gibbs had to climb out of his car after it caught on fire. Gibbs exiting the car safely. The Joe Gibbs Racing team worked on making repairs to his No. 54 car. NASCAR stated that the car would not be allowed to qualify because of unapproved adjustments, modifications not directly related to the damage.

NASCAR will not race at Auto Club Speedway in 2024

0 Comments

LOS ANGELES — Auto Club Speedway will not host a NASCAR race next year because of plans to convert the 2-mile speedway into a short track.

It will mark only the second time the Cup Series has not raced at the Southern California track since first competing there in 1997. Cup did not race at the track in 2021 because of the pandemic.

Dave Allen, Auto Club Speedway president, also said Saturday that “it’s possible” that the track might not host a NASCAR race in 2025 because of how long it could take to make the conversion. 

MORE: Details for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum 

NASCAR came to the Fontana, California, track during the sport’s expansion in the late 1990s that also saw Cup debut at Texas (1997), Las Vegas (1998) and Homestead (1999).

Auto Club Speedway begins the West Coast swing this season, hosting the Cup Series on Feb. 26, a week after the Daytona 500. The series then goes to Las Vegas and Phoenix the following two weeks.

Auto Club Speedway has been among a favorite of drivers because of its aging pavement that put more of the car’s control in the hands of competitors. 

Allen said that officials continue to work on the track’s design. It is expected to be a half-mile track. With NASCAR already having a half-mile high-banked track (Bristol) and half-mile low-banked track (Martinsville), Allen said that a goal is to make Auto Club Speedway stand out.

“It has to make a statement, and making sure that we have a racetrack that is unique to itself here and different than any of the tracks they go to is very important,” Allen said. “Having said that, it’s equally important … to make sure that the fan experience part is unique.”

Kyle Larson, who won last year’s Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, said that he talked to Allen on Saturday was told the track project likely will take about 18 months. 

“I don’t know exactly the extent of what they’re doing with the track, how big it’s going to be, the shape or banking and all that, and I love the 2-mile track, but I think the more short tracks we can have, the better off our sport is going to be,” Larson said.

With Auto Club Speedway off the schedule in 2024, it would mean the only time Cup raced in the Los Angeles area would be at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. NASCAR has a three-year contract with the Coliseum to race there and holds the option to return.

Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum marks the second year of that agreement. Last year’s inaugural event at the Coliseum drew about 50,000 fans. NASCAR has not publicly stated if it will return to the Coliseum next year.