Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer survives day of ‘high anxiety’ at The Brickyard

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Clint Bowyer’s quest to get into the Cup Series playoffs was not as precarious as Ryan Newman’s, but he was a long way from being locked into the 15th position in the 16-driver playoff lineup entering Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

He still needed to finish ahead of the other drivers in contention for the playoffs including Newman, Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson, who entered the race still eligible to get in on points, but realistically needed to win the race to clinch.

Bowyer improved his chances of making the playoffs dramatically by qualifying third fastest in Sunday morning’s Brickyard 400 qualifications.

The race, however, had more than its share of moments of “high anxiety” for the Stewart Haas Racing driver.

“You’re damn right I did,” Bowyer told NBC Sports on pit road at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “You knew it going in, you knew it was going to be high anxiety and it was going to be crazy like that.

“You don’t know where it’s going to be coming from. About the time we qualified good, I walked away from that car and knew the worst was yet to happen. The caution could come out at Lap 10 and present an opportunity for somebody and a mishap for somebody else.”

That happened throughout the race for Bowyer, who kept track of his competitors throughout the race and tried to manage his day.

In the closing stages of the contest, Bubba Wallace was in contention to sneak into the playoffs with a victory. He was running third, briefly made it up to second, before he was passed by Joey Logano for that position with the laps winding down.

The last thing Bowyer or Newman needed was a driver like Wallace to completely change the dynamic of the playoffs with an upset victory.

“I didn’t want to be anywhere around Bubba today,” Bowyer said. “I knew what he was racing for and what I was racing for and those two things didn’t match up today.

“I’m happy for Bubba, though. It was a great finish at a great race track for him. That’s a great finish for him and his team.”

Wallace would finish third, behind race winner Kevin Harvick and second place Logano. William Bryon finished fourth and Bowyer’s fifth-place finish was more than enough to lock him into the playoffs.

He became the third driver in the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing team to make the 16-driver lineup for the playoffs. Daniel Suarez was still in competition, entering the race tied in points with Newman, but his 11th-place finish combined with Newman’s eighth place eliminated the driver from Mexico.

“It was super close to getting all four in,” Bowyer said. “We’ve got to keep building, man. We’re working hard and digging and trying to get better.

“We aren’t the fastest group. We know that. But we looked pretty damn fast today.”

Bowyer’s road to that top-five finish was eventful to say the least.

“It was going to be chaotic, I said that before the race, it was going to be an emotional roller-coaster,” Bowyer said. “The 6 car (Newman) was able to stay out there and capitalize on that and get those five points on us.

“I was like, ‘Damn, I didn’t need that.’

“But we got it back in the second stage. It was identical. I finished fifth and he finished 11th in that stage and he handed it right back to us.

“We were faster than we ran. I think we were a top-five car, but we were just trying to survive. We needed to survive this thing and it was going to be a war of attrition and we survived.”

Making the playoffs is important, but it doesn’t beat winning, according to Bowyer.

“Winning is everything,” Bowyer said. “That’s why we get up in the morning, to go win. There is nothing better than winning. I’m looking forward to some of those tracks. I should have won at Richmond earlier this year.

“I still think about that race and how easy our season would have been if I had won it earlier.”

Now, it’s off to the playoffs and Bowyer is excited his team’s recent surge. Since finishing 37th at Michigan in August, Bowyer has finished seventh at Bristol, sixth at Darlington and fifth at Indianapolis.

“We’ve got 10 races in the playoffs and the last three races have been single-digit finishes for us,” Bowyer said. “That will get you around. It also builds confidence and momentum with our race team. That is what it takes.

“We are finally doing the right things, putting ourselves in the right situations to capitalize on other people’s mishaps rather than being the one to make the mishap and having someone capitalize on us.”

Clint Bowyer gets ‘unclogged’, feels enlightened after runner-up finish

1 Comment

Clint Bowyer might have lost his patience with NASCAR after another group qualifying fiasco, but the Stewart-Haas Racing driver didn’t lose his sense of humor.

Rebounding from starting 25th and failing to advance from the first round of another controversial qualifying session, Bowyer finished a season-best second Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway and then took a playful shot at race officials

“Unclogged,” Bowyer told reporters with a laugh when asked how he felt after his second top five of the season and first since Feb. 24 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.We definitely unclogged ourselves from qualifying.”

It was a not-so-subtle reference to his displeasure with NASCAR after feeling he was blocked by Ryan Newman during qualifying. A directive was issued last week warning drivers against “clogging” the middle lane in the pits. Newman wasn’t penalized.

“I read the rulebook again, which you have to be about a lawyer to read anymore, and you’re not supposed to clog the middle, and I couldn’t tell if that was an acceptable amount of clog, or not enough clogging or what kind of clogging level that was,” he said Friday to FS1 after earning his second-worst starting spot of the year. “Because at a certain point of cloggingness of the middle lane, you will get disallowed of your time is how I read that.”

By Sunday, Bowyer had shook it off, and his No. 14 Ford capably navigated traffic over 500 miles on the 1.5-mile oval.

Though he didn’t earn any stage points, Bowyer and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz played strategy well and finished 2.743 seconds behind winner Denny Hamlin.

“(The car) wasn’t lightning fast all day long, but as they started slip sliding around and struggling we’d kind of prevail on those long runs,” Bowyer said. “All in all, I’m really happy to finish where we were.  What a wild race.  Just about the time you think you’re going to have some stage points the caution would come out and then you thought you were back in, and it happened again.  Then you’re like, ‘Well, damn.  What kind of haymakers are going to be thrown at the end?’, and it just didn’t.

“Anytime you finish second it’s like, ‘What could I have done?’  When (Hamlin) came out of the pits that far ahead of us I was like, ‘We’re in big trouble,’ but second is not bad for the way our weekend started.”

It actually was a major improvement for a driver who has felt burned multiple times by group qualifying the past few years as NASCAR has sorted out how to make the system work with drafting and the 2019 rules package.

“We had to unclog ourselves,” Bowyer told FS1 with a smile. “Once we unclogged ourselves, we were really good.”

Penalties issued to Stewart-Haas, RCR and Kyle Busch Motorsports

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NASCAR issued three penalties Tuesday from this past weekend’s racing action at both New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.

In the Cup Series, Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion driven by Clint Bowyer, was fined $10,000 for a safety violation: a loose lug nut discovered during post-race inspection at New Hampshire following the ISM Connect 300.

In the Xfinity Series, Randall Burnett, crew chief of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driven by Ben Kennedy at Kentucky, was issued an L1 penalty for post-race rear body inspection height violation that was outside allowed tolerances.

Burnett was fined $10,000 and suspended from this weekend’s Xfinity race at Dover. In addition, Kennedy was assessed the loss of 10 driver points, while the team was assessed the loss of 10 owner points.

Kennedy’s 11th-place finish was also encumbered.

Finally, in the Camping World Truck Series, Kevin Manion, crew chief of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra driven by Todd Gilliland, was fined $5,000 and suspended from this weekend’s Truck race in Las Vegas.

Manion was assessed an L1 penalty for failure to ensure the rear brake cooling assembly was sealed from the air inlet to the exhaust.

Gilliland’s third-place finish was encumbered and he was also assessed the loss of 10 driver points, while KBM suffered the loss of 10 owner points.

Stenhouse leads train of 6 Fords in final Daytona NASCAR Cup practice

Leave a comment

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led a Ford onslaught during Saturday’s final NASCAR Cup practice for Sunday’s 59th Daytona 500.

Stenhouse Jr. was the fastest of six Ford drivers that paced the 28-driver field with a top speed of 198.452 mph, nearly two mph faster than second-fastest Joey Logano (196.751 mph).

Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, was third-fastest (196.747), followed by three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates: Kevin Harvick (196.726), Kurt Busch (196.700) and Clint Bowyer (196.674).

The fastest Chevrolet driver was Elliott Sadler, seventh-fast at 196.584 mph. The fastest Toyota driver was Canadian driver D.J. Kennington, who was 25th-fastest at 192.814 mph.

In an interesting twist, no other Toyota drivers took part in the practice session at Daytona International Speedway.

Click here to see how the final practice played out.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Clint Bowyer, wife Lorra, expecting second child

(Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
1 Comment

The family of Clint Bowyer will grow by one in the near future.

The HScott Motorsports driver announced on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that he and his wife of two years, Lorra, are expecting a baby girl.

The Bowyer’s welcomed their son, Cash Aaron, into the world on Oct. 1, 2014.

When the new addition to the family likely arrives, Bowyer will be driving the No. 14 for Stewart-Haas Racing, taking over for the retiring Tony Stewart.