Ford Performance NASCAR: Clint Bowyer Q&A

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

KC Masterpiece 400 Advance (Kansas Speedway; Kansas City, KS)

Friday, May 11, 2018

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation/VF1 Ford Fusion, is racing in front of his hometown fans this weekend at Kansas Speedway.  Bowyer, who has one victory in 2018, spoke about what it would mean to win here tomorrow night, among other topics before today’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying.

 

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Haas Automation/VF1 Ford Fusion – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK HOME?  “It’s always fun to get back here, especially when you’re running well and everything is upbeat and having a ton of fun.  There are so many positive things going on in my world – Stewart-Haas, the Ford camp, everything.  It’s just been a ton of fun from the word go when we unloaded at Daytona.  Certainly rolling into Kansas off that momentum and having all that confidence on our side feels good, so I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow night.  It just seems like with the new schedule and everything we have going on this year, Fridays seem kind of chaotic and a lot of times coming out of Fridays you don’t really know what to expect and where you’re at as far as your long-run pace, your qualifying stuff and everything else, but I’m looking forward to qualifying.  I think I left a little bit out there in practice and hopefully we can get that tonight and start up front and be good for tomorrow night.”

 

HOW FUN IS IT AT STEWART-HAAS THESE DAYS AND WHAT MAKES YOUR TEAM DIFFERENT?  “Things are finally gelling and working the way they’re supposed to work at a multi-car team.  It doesn’t do anybody any good to have one car running good.  Having all four cars running well up front for our partners on the side of the cars, our manufacturer, it just speaks volumes about everybody pushing in the same direction and the adjustments we made in the offseason and putting a year under our belts and learning from that, learning these Fords, the aero maps, the Roush Yates horsepower – all the tools that you use to go to the race track week in and week out we have that year under our belt for our 14 car.  The communication, the driver, crew chief communication, our engineers, everybody is just so much more polished this year than we were last year as we were learning.  It seemed like last year you were in a different car every week.  You never felt like you were sitting in the same car.   This year not only do I feel like I’m sitting in the same race car, it’s responding to the same things.  They have a good aero balance underneath them, your wedge, your trackbar adjustments, your air-pressure adjustments, all those things are making sense and clicking for you and it paints such a clearer picture to make those adjustments and have confidence in your decisions behind those adjustments.”

 

DALE JR. IS GONE.  “He’s not gone.  I hope that he’s cleaning a mess up and replacing a new diaper.  That’s what I hope he’s doing right now.”

 

HE’S NOT GOING TO WIN MOST POPULAR DRIVER THIS YEAR.  “He’s certainly not going to be the Most Popular Driver.  That’s true.”

 

WHY SHOULD YOU WIN?  “Because he’s not, so why shouldn’t it be me or anybody else?  The Most Popular Driver, that’s a neat tradition that NASCAR has always done.  I love my fan base.  I love the following, the interaction we have on Twitter.

“It’s just a positive vibe and a positive feel and I appreciate that support.  I’ve had it since more so in the Kansas City area than anywhere, so I’m happy with where I’m at.  I don’t need a vote or a trophy to understand that.  I’m part of a big thing in a big sport in this world and that’s certainly gratifying enough for me.” 

DOES NASCAR NEED SOMEONE TO TAKE THAT MANTLE LIKE DALE JR. HAD AND HAVE A CROSSOVER APPEAL?  “I don’t know.  I think that character and whatever you want to call it, that figure that we had, parts of me think that’s positive and part of me thinks that acquiring that and having that long-term standing name, whether it’s an Earnhardt or an Elliott or a Petty or whoever the case may be, part of me thinks that maybe hurts the next guy along in building his legacy and things like that.  It is neat that those names are still around.  I think Chase has done a great job of carrying that flag for his family and certainly Dale did an awesome job of carrying that flag for the Earnhardt name for all those years.  Is it right or wrong?  Who knows.  I don’t know.  If you dig it, you dig it.  If you don’t, I hope that you dig your new driver because they’re certainly putting everything out there on the race track they possibly can and doing the best they can for you as a fan.”

 

YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT MOMENTUM ON THE TRACK AND YOU HAVE IT THIS YEAR.  TODAY YOU HAVE A NEW SPONSOR IN ITSAVVY.  HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO SEE THE MOMENTUM ON THE TRACK BUT OFF AS WELL?  “It is.  Momentum is everything.  Performance is everything.  This is a performance driven business, it’s a performance driven world. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the business world or the racing world, really they coexist in our world.  The business behind our world, the partners, the sponsors on the sides of these cars that make these cars go round and round are every bit as much of a part of the performance and the success that we have on Sunday as anybody.  Certainly, we’ve got things rolling right now.  Like I said, it’s a lot of fun.  The phones are ringing.  There’s a lot of positive vibe and things going around the Stewart-Haas organization but our 14 car in particular.  Obviously, the ITsavvy people are here.  This is an advantage for us.  This is and IT world.  It’s obviously a business world.  Fortune 500 companies all over the place when you’re looking at NASCAR.  Where else can you see all of these companies in such a tight confined area than NASCAR?  I remember coming to the race track and nobody even had a computer when we first started and if they did it was maybe learning how to comb the internet or something like that.  Now, heck you come into the pits if the idle is off or your pit road speed is off or something like that, you’re not going under the hood and looking at it, the first thing you do is wait for the IT guy to plug his computer in and see what the heck is going on.  That’s how things have changed and certainly ITsavvy coming on board with us and helping us not only with our equipment but our technology and our solutions behind all of that is a performance gain for us and it will be for any other business connected to this sport.”

 

HOW DOES THE WIN AT MARTINSVILLE TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF FOR THIS WEEKEND?  “Martinsville is just a huge release for so many different things personally and for our race team.  It was just a huge sigh of relief, but then you almost won again last week and almost rolled in here a two-time winner, but I want nothing more than to be able to win in front of my hometown crowd.

“This is where it all started right down the road at Lakeside.  Everybody knows my story here watching the first race and I just can’t think of a possible way to solidify everything and bring it all back home than to win right here.  I won that Truck race a few years ago, but to be able to roll into Victory Lane in a Cup race, I don’t even know if you’d find me in Victory Lane.  I don’t know where you’d find me.” 

BUT IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR MENTAL APPROACH NOW THAN WHEN YOU WERE TRYING TO END THAT WINLESS STREAK?  “Yeah, I mean, again, your confidence level is through the roof right now for our race team, myself.  We’re capable of doing it.  We’ve proven that, we’ve got that behind us.  It’s no longer can they do it, it’s when will they do it again and I feel that way when you get in that race car.  It’s not can we win again, it’s when are we gonna do it and how are we gonna do it?”

 

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT IF NASCAR WAS SOLD?  “Man, I don’t know.  I think I’ll remain committed to the future and long-term future of this sport I think is what I probably ought to say.”

 

YOU WERE PENALIZED ON WEDNESDAY AND THIS IS A CONTINUING TREND OF MIDWEEK PENALTIES COMING OUT AND IT TAKES THE FOCUS OFF THE RACING.  SHOULD NASCAR CHANGE THE WAY THEY DO THESE PENALTIES?  “Man, I don’t know.  Everybody has a different opinion on it.  They have a tough job.  They really do.  You’ve got a world where the people on the race track are as equipped if not the same better than what you are at trying to govern and regulate.  It’s a tough job to do on the competition side of this sport.  The technology is through the roof right now.  This is such a simple thing and when you look at these cars going around the race track you think, ‘How can it be that hard?’  But you start to realize that simple thing out there on the race track has an army of people that are fine-tuning and massaging and getting the most out of such a confined area.  It’s just mind-boggling where it’s come.  I was in my dad’s shop doing an interview this week at home and my car from ’06, the Jack Daniels car is still at my dad’s shop and I was looking at it and I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’  I remember going to RCR and seeing Dale Earnhardt’s cars when they were in that museum and I was walking around there like, ‘How in the hell did we get to where we are?  Look at that jalopy.’  And now here I am in my tenure and my career I saw where I first started in that first Cup car to where it is now it’s unbelievable.  The things that you learn and we come across.  We’re scanning our bodies now.  It’s so hard to try to govern it all on their side of it because we’re pushing as hard as we possibly can.  We had a part failure.  I mean, it broke.  I was upset until I figured that out and I’m like, ‘Well, sorry guys.’  You take your licks and go on.  It’s frustrating when you get to the track and there are so many cars that aren’t on the track or whatever the case may be.  I mean, the right thing and if it’s in there somewhere in between, I think it is, but at the end of the day, truth be told, they have a tall order in front of them and an army of people that are pushing as hard as they can against them.”

 

WHEN YOU SAW THE PENALTY COME OUT DID ANY PART OF YOU THINK IT WASN’T SO BAD KEVIN PASSED YOU BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU’D HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS PENALTY OFF A WIN?  “No, that sucked.  I wanted the trophy with the car in it holding my car and not the 4 car because he was trash-talking all weekend long and I really, really wanted to shut him up and be able to take that trophy away from him, but we’re close.  Obviously, we ran second and you never want to look up and see your car in the penalty box or the headline reading something negative.  We have so many positive things going on with our thing and I know first-hand mine wasn’t, it’s listed under the same penalty but all you have to do is go back and look at pictures and see the differences between other cars that had that penalty and mine going around the race track and that’s where I put my decision and how I came to ease about it.  If we’d have been pushing hard and they were foolish and got caught doing something bad and I felt like that’s how I got that performance advantage and that’s why I ran so good last weekend, you’d feel like you cheated somebody, but I looked back at 150 pictures that we have available to us and went back and looked at the other guys that had the same problem and I just didn’t see the same result.  But I’m fine with the penalty and go on and looking forward to this weekend.”
SO YOU DIDN’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT HAVING TO DEAL WITH LOSING POINTS FROM A WIN?  “No, the way we’re running we’re gonna get another win and it’ll be history.”

 

ARE TECH COMPANIES COMING IN THE SPORT A TREND AND WILL THEY HELP IN TERMS OF RACE ADVANTAGES?  “That’s what I was kind of frustrated about reading the headlines and stuff this week.  That’s not what I see going on.  I see Talladega’s infield is back the way it used to be.  The camping and the infield was a beautiful weekend.  That’s back rolling the way this sport was when I came into it and I left Talladega thinking, ‘This is on track.’  And then you get home and you’re talking about companies wanting to be a part of it and they’re seeing the impact and the opportunity in front of them.  They’re jumping on board.  That’s what I see.  I don’t see the headlines and stuff that we were writing about this week.  I just don’t see that impacting me personally and my race team and my organization.  I see a lot of positive things, whether you said Bubba having a new IT sponsor, that’s the wave of the future.  Like it or not, the old-school ways of going testing and looking and trying to figure it out, we’ve got four cars and I’m gonna tell you the number one guy that we can’t do without on a race weekend is our IT guy.  If he’s sick, we’re all sick and that race car is gonna be sick.  It’s unbelievable how much we lean on that side of things, on the technology side.  We need to be on the leading edge of the equipment.  We need to be on the leading edge on the technology and the solutions behind that is how companies like ITsavvy are gonna help us strive toward the future.”

 

THERE’S NOT MUCH TALK ABOUT SPONSORS THAT ARE COMING INTO THE SPORT ARE THEY?  “To some obviously are outweighing others, and I get it all, but, like I said, there are a lot of good things going on with our sport and I feel like obviously we’re running good and I can tell you this I’m gone a hell of a lot more than I was a year ago and even two years ago, three years ago.  Things are picking up in a big way and that’s because of partners and sponsors starting to really pick up around the program.”

 

HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE YOU LEFT LAKESIDE SPEEDWAY?  “Still a goofball, still have a ton of fun at the race track.  I love coming to the race track.  I love picking on people and being picked on and racing.  The competitiveness of racing is just, I go watch my nephew go play tee ball or have friends playing baseball, football players, country music people, the competitiveness of NASCAR is a world like no other.  I love it.  I love coming to it and that’s motorsports in general.  Our two dirt late model teams, we’re behind right now trying to figure out how to get better, how to beat that guy before you line back up this weekend.  I mean, just being able to see your hard work and your dedication Monday through Friday start showing up at the race track over the weekend there’s nothing like it, that feeling and satisfaction and gratitude I’ve never had anything that even remotely comes close to that.  Pulling into Victory Lane again this year with your family.  That’s what’s changed – family.  The reasons I wanted to be in Victory Lane weren’t really selfishly just because I wanted to have a beer with my buddies, I wanted my boy in Victory Lane.  I wanted that picture on our wall.  I wanted him to experience that and I want to do it over and over and over because I want them to be a part of that.  That’s the biggest thing that’s changed to me, but, personally and probably everything like that family is still here.  This is still home for us.  Grandma is coming.  My brother is here.  It’s pretty normal, business as usual just like it was at Lakeside.”
KASEY KAHNE SOMETIMES GETS IN HIS CARS TO TRY AND HELP HIS DIRT TEAM.  DO YOU EVER DO THAT FROM TIME TO TIME?  “I had to sponsor him in Talladega.  We flew him down to the Devil’s Bowl and he ran really well.  He won his heat race and either won the dash or ran second.  I don’t get a chance to race my cars anymore.  To be honest with you, you’ve got to do it.  Just like anything else, it’s like our world, it would be like Donny Schatz or Scott Bloomquist getting in a Cup car and trying to line up with us.  I mean, these kids have grown up doing it and everything else and you just can’t beat the experience.  They can run fast.  They can post a big lap, but putting 500 miles together is a whole different story, making mistakes on pit road, there are just so many different things that make up success on any given Sunday in our world or a Saturday night.  But that’s the biggest thing with the late model world.  If I showed up and tried to line up with those guys, A, I wouldn’t make the feature.  I’d probably crash and I’d be super-bummed out.  That’s facts.”

 

 

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