KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Clint Bowyer would love to get a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory at Kansas Speedway, the home track for the Emporia native and site of Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
Then again, Bowyer would love to get a victory anywhere.
Bowyer’s last win—and incidentally, his only triumph on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway—came in the fall race at Charlotte in 2012. Since then, 159 races have passed since Bowyer, 37, last found Victory Lane, as the Kansas driver experienced first-hand the dissolution of Michael Waltrip Racing.
Then came a year in stock car purgatory at now-defunct HScott Motorsports, as Bowyer waited for Tony Stewart to finish his retirement tour and exit the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing car.
In 2016, he posted an average finish of 23.6 with HScott and finished 27th in the final standings.
“Yeah, last year sucked. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t fun for anybody, especially me,” Bowyer acknowledged on Friday morning before opening practice at Kansas Speedway.
Everything changed when Bowyer began driving for Stewart-Haas—the attitude, the enjoyment and the results.
“The good news is the bus picked us up and we jumped on the fun bus clear back in Daytona,” Bowyer said. “When I walked out of one building and got into the other one it was a fun time, trust me. It was overnight.
“I woke up one morning as a Stewart-Haas employee. That was a good time.”
In 10 races with SHR, Bowyer has a second-place finish at Bristol and a third at Fontana—two more top fives than he scored in 2016. Aside from the Daytona 500, where he was eliminated in a 17-car wreck on Lap 129, Bowyer has finished no worse than 15th in any race.
His average result of 11.8 is nearly 12 positions better than his average from last year. Accordingly, Bowyer says the 159-race drought isn’t weighing on him.
“To be honest with you, you don’t even think about that,” Bowyer said. “You think about winning. I never think about how long it’s been. I think about how you’re going to get it done.
“You have that thought process through the week as you’re going through competition meetings starting Monday and your conversations with the crew chief all week long. The biggest thing is you’re lined back up with an organization that’s capable of doing that. That’s item number one.”
Should Bowyer’s winless streak end at his home track on Saturday night, Mother’s Day might have to wait 24 hours as the No. 14 team recovers from the victory party.
“If that was to happen, I probably wouldn’t be in very good shape for Mother’s Day,” Bowyer admitted. “We would probably have to postpone that to Monday. It would be huge to win at home and finally seal the deal after all this time. It would be ultra-special.
“I don’t know that it would be any more special than the first time I raced here, though. It’s one of the tracks I’ve always wanted to win at. All my family and friends and people that helped me get to where I am today all live here in the area, and it would be cool to celebrate that with them.”