Ford Performance NASCAR: Texas 1 (Clint Bowyer Media Availability)

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Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes

Date: Friday, April 7, 2017

Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (Media Availability)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion, met with media members ahead of opening practice at Texas Motor Speedway Friday morning.

CLINT BOWYER (No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion) — SO MANY XFINITY RACERS HAVE SAID THEY ARE THANKFUL YOU ARE PRACTICING FIRST HERE BECAUSE THEY WILL BE WATCHING. “Yeah, I was hoping they would pack the track for us. I don’t know. Eddie (Gossage) needs to know. That is short-track 101, you have the sport classes pack the track for you. What the hell?”

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL LEARN IN THE FIRST PRACTICE AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO LEARN? “These teams are so good with their experience with the technology that we have and the tools that they have, it is just incredible to see them go through a race weekend even on new pavement or old pavement and be able to find that optimal grip load in the car and ultimately makes the thing fast. They will have it trimmed out. That is the crazy thing about these teams, how close they can get these cars to 100-percent. Mechanical grip is what I am talking about. Aero grip and things like that are some things that you can or can’t adjust but at the end of the day all the teams in this garage at this level are pretty good at getting this thing close to 100-percent. All that being said you have to unload a good hot rod. The guys have to do a good job at the shop to bring a car capable of getting the job done for these teams that are at the track to go to work and have their turn at bat. I think everybody has been nervous about this one. Nobody has tested here. Nobody really knows what to expect until we get on the race track. As for how long it will take? Who knows? Nobody knows.”

ARE YOU WEARING ANY OF THE HEART MONITOR OR BIOMETRIC DEVICES? “Hell no. Why? The last time I checked nobody has ever paid me to wear a heart monitor or to do anything other than finish these races up front and hopefully win them. I am sure mine is probably high and low, it just depends. I can tell you this, anybody’s heart monitor in this car if something bad happens or they get cut-off or crash, that will probably be the peak moment, not driving in the corner. We have power steering, Bob.”

KYLE LARSON TALKED LAST WEEK ABOUT HOW HE RUNS DIRT RACES BECAUSE HE FEELS IT IS A GOOD CONNECTION TO THIS. IS THERE ANYTHING DRIVERS OR NASCAR CAN DO TO HELP WITH THE CONNECTION TO WEEKLY OR LOCAL TRACKS? “It is the reason I have two dirt late-model teams competing across the country. It was my dream to do that and I think my obligation racing at this level to still go back and visit these grass root short-tracks all across the country. Weekly racing is what put me on the map and gave all of us a chance to showcase our talents to the teams we are racing for today. Yes, that is the level that gets everybody here, not just drivers. It is crew members and engineers and crew chiefs and over the wall guys. Everything you see that makes up the Cup series all starts in one way, shape or form at a weekly series across the country. I love being a part of that. My guys as me every year if they have a job and I tell them as long as they see my ass in a Cup car, don’t you worry about your job.”

 

YOUR CREW CHIEF MIKE BUGAREWICZ SEEMS LIKE A NO-NONSENSE GUY AND YOU SEEM LIKE A COMPLETE NON-SENSE GUY. HOW DO YOU MESH THOSE PERSONALITIES TOGETHER? “You call me a complete non-sense guy? Man, it is the hardest thing to try to get a laugh out of him or a rise in any way other than just pissed or completely disgusted with me. It is a lot of fun though. He is young. That is the neat thing about Mike, how young he is compared to a lot of his peers in his profession. The work ethic is what you care about and I think that is what he cares about with me. As long as I show up for my meetings and take my work seriously. That is the thing about me that people don’t see, that side. I want to run up front. I want to compete. That is why I get out of bed and go to work. That is why you go each and every weekend and drag your family all across the country to do this. Because you love to do it and want to compete and win these races. It has been awhile since I have had someone as dedicated as Mike is. You literally have to tell him to go home, go eat dinner with your family, take your wife out to dinner, do something to get your mind off this. He will call you and 9 or 10-o’clock at night and he is still working. That work ethic is instilled in pretty much everybody at Stewart-Haas and Mike is no exception. We are very fortunate to have him. He has brought me a lot of good hot rods already. Personality wise, probably not, I would say you are spot-on there. We are definitely polar opposites there. At the end of the day when you run up front and finish up front everybody is happy. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are.”

WHAT ABOUT THE RECONFIGURATION OF TURN ONE AND TWO HERE. IS THAT A CONCERN? ALSO, DO YOU THINK WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH LAST YEAR MAKING YOU ENJOY THIS YEAR THAT MUCH MORE? “I think that the pavement, the entrance to turn one feels quite a bit different just driving around in a pace car. The exit to two is probably the biggest change. It seems like as far as the bottom goes down into the apron and how they have extended that, you feel that a lot more off of two. We used to run out of real estate in a big way. Now it feels like you have room a little more as you are exiting and even earlier than you did before. It is hard to tell when you are going around in a pace car 100 mph compared to 200 in a Cup car, business picks up in a big way. What you may have thought is the right way around maybe isn’t. I do know they laid down some rubber with the rollers and the track is really clean down on the bottom and seems like the preferred groove right now. We will see if that widens out. When you get cars out there going that much faster than a passenger car, who knows where the happy spot is going to be in that race track. Right now from what I have seen I think it is going to be on the bottom.”

“Last year is just last year. I think I was prepared to enjoy this year even last year. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, whether it was my first opportunity in this sport or my last. To drive for this manufacturer, Ford, and the support they are giving us. Everyone at Stewart-Haas, the management and sponsors and my teammates. You don’t put enough emphasis on the impact a good teammate can have on you. Drivers capable of winning races and championships. I have two championship winning drivers as teammates. Danica, everything she brings for our entire sport, let alone the company. This is the opportunity you are giddy about no matter where you are at in your career.”

YOU TALKED A LOT IN THE OFF-SEASON ABOUT LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SEASON. IS IT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE HOPED IT WOULD BE? “Yeah, absolutely. You are going to struggle. There is nothing in this sport at this level that comes easy. It doesn’t matter the race track or circumstances, it is always hard because there is always the next guy working every bit as hard to accomplish the same goal. That being said, I knew it would be a positive move. I am very well aware of Kevin (Harvick), we are good friends and have done a lot of things off the race track together. I was very happy to get back working with him because everything I have learned in this sport of racing and race cars was always in his seat, with his pedals, where his steering wheel was. Kevin always had it and I didn’t know any better. I had never drove one before. Everything I did when I learned how to drive these cars was how Kevin did it. When I came to Stewart-Haas they asked what I want to do with my pedals and seat and I said, ‘Hell, I don’t know, ask Kevin.’ It has been that way my whole career. Kurt (Busch) really dissects his car more than anything I have ever heard. It really gets your mind going about maybe what you thought or a trick somewhere. Makes you think about what maybe you were feeling when you thought you were feeling something else. It is a breath of fresh air to be in the meetings with those guys and debrief with them and work on the next week or even just the race after practice. It is really cool to have those guys input going into a race or the following week.”

ANYTHING ABOUT THE SHORT TRACK RACING THAT YOU EVER MISS? SOMETHING YOU THINK BACK AND WANT TO DO AGAIN? “I think unfortunately my days have come and gone for that. That being said, both my drivers, one is 52 and one is like 48, so I guess I have a long way to go to work on my short track career. The 52-year old fell off a piece of machinery and broke his tailbone and called me the night before the race, then the next night he wins with a broken tailbone. I guess there is no chance really of me growing up anytime soon, so I probably will be doing that at some point. It is so important. It is cool that Eddie has put this race together here this weekend. I don’t like having these race tracks with race tracks sitting empty right next door, let’s use it for our fans and showcase more racing for our fans. All it is is a water truck and tractor. You have the best track operator there is with Tony (Stewart) and I think he is going over there to work on the track for the conditions of his own race. That tells me how much short track racing means to us racers. It is a big part of our lives. Always was, and still is today.”

YOU BOUGHT A PLANE A FEW YEARS AGO. HOW DOES THAT HELP YOU GET BACK AND FORTH? “We have to. Can you imagine not getting here for practice. You could probably do your job with a WiFi connection from the airport if you had to but I don’t think the WiFi connection is going to get me paid if I miss Texas Motor Speedway. That is a big part, a big expense that we have in our lives, but it is worth it. For sponsors sake, commitments throughout the week, you never know when those are going to be. You never know when a sponsor might say, ‘Hey, I messed up, I need you. Can you be here tomorrow?’ That plane provides the opportunity to capitalize on that for them and keep them happen and on the side of the race car.”

 

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