Ford Performance NASCAR: Clint Bowyer-Mark Martin Q&A Session

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Bojangles’ Southern 500 Advance – Darlington Raceway

Friday, September 1, 2017


Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Carolina Ford Dealers Ford Fusion, is commemorating Mark Martin’s paint scheme from 1988-91 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.  Bowyer, who still needs a win to qualify for the upcoming Playoffs, along with Martin participated in a Q&A session with reporters today at Darlington Raceway.

MARK MARTIN, NASCAR Hall of Famer – WHAT’S IT LIKE TO SEE THAT FUSION WITH YOUR CAROLINA FORD DEALERS COLORS ON IT?  “Man, it is really, really cool.  It was so amazing when they pulled the cover off of it at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  The first thing I thought of was the setup that I ran in that old car, and how it was pretty much unbeatable at Darlington.  Clint’s a man to take it to Victory Lane, but I don’t want to lose sight…

CLINT INTERJECTS – “By the way, we do have that setup in the car.  I sure hope it was a good one.”

MARK CONTINUES – “You better change it.  I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that there are several things that are really important to me.  One is a friend of mine from Batesville, Arkansas decided he wanted to be a car owner and got started and built a late model and built an XFINITY car, and his name was Bill Davis.  He was the owner of that car who went on to win the Daytona 500 and I think the Southern 500 as well.  That’s really important to me because the history is what it’s all about and that’s something that is really special.  I didn’t want to lose sight of that fact.  The Carolina Ford Dealers was the first sponsor that I had an opportunity to really do a big marketing program, so I got a lot of experience doing TV and radio spots for the Carolina Ford Dealers and that really makes it cool to be on Clint’s car.  And then, thirdly, I finished the last 13 races or so of my career in the 14 car subbing for Tony Stewart, so this makes it all pretty cool and, lastly, Clint Bowyer is one of the oldest school and coolest dudes in NASCAR today, so it’s pretty neat.”

CLINT BOWYER – No. 14 Carolina Ford Dealers Ford Fusion — HOW COOL IS THIS FOR YOU?  “I think that’s just it.  That’s what’s so special about this weekend in Darlington is being able to pay tribute to all of our heroes that paved the way for all of us to have this opportunity.  Mark Martin, a teammate of mine back in 2012, one of the neatest things that ever happened in my career, and then just his story from that midwestern kid that grew up beating up and down the road, making a name for himself in those late models that he just spoke about, the ASA Series, and then making the most of those opportunities and becoming a legend of this sport and a Hall of Famer.  So to be able to pay tribute to him means a lot to me personally.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF MARK’S RACING STYLE?  “It’s kind of that old thing.  You see a guy race that aggressive you think he’s gonna get out and be a grizzly bear and this little guy gets out and you’re like, ‘Man, he sure drives like a grizzly bear.’  That’s the way he’s always been.  He attacks any race track that you put him on.  He gets everything there is to get out of a race car and always has.  I think his work ethic and everything about him is what makes him so unique and special and stand out amongst the rest over the years.”

MARK MARTIN CONTINUED — CAN YOU RACE THE WAY YOU DID IN THE NINETIES?  OR IS IT MORE NEW-SCHOOL RACING WITH OLD-SCHOOL PAINT SCHEMES?  “I believe it’s new-school racing with old-school paint schemes.  The importance of the throwback weekend here that they have at Darlington is really showing respect for the legends of this sport.  The racing has just moved way past back in that day.  The double-file restarts are really pretty chaotic and insane, and the cars are so fast, and the pavement here is so much better than it was back then.  It’s amazing that these guys can run around this place, it always was, but the speed of the cars today, that additional two or three seconds a lap that they run now makes it more difficult and probably hairier than ever.  I think the race will be incredible.  I did some double-file restarts here and it certainly wasn’t my favorite thing to do.  I enjoy watching them, but I didn’t enjoy doing them.”

CLINT BOWYER CONTINUED – “I certainly wasn’t around in 1989 when this paint scheme was on the side of Mark’s car, but just in my tenure being in this sport the evolution of the cars is just so much further than when I started.  You used to have to manage tires, your equipment, all these things to manage a race to get the most out of any given weekend let alone a track as unique as Darlington.  Now it just seems like with the tires, with the equipment, with everything the way it has evolved it’s almost a qualifying lap driving as hard as you can every single lap and the car and equipment will take it.  It’s definitely different than the way it was even 10-12 years ago when I started.”

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO STAGE RACING CHANGED SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR? “As I was speaking about managing a race and doing everything you could do to be there when the pay window opens at the end, a little of that goes by the wayside with these stage points.  They’re very important as we’ve seen all season long and as we’re gonna see as soon as the Playoffs start, even furthermore when Truex has pretty much got a free ride to the championship or an opportunity.  They’re very important.  They’re alive.  They’re real.  We feel it each and every week and each and every stage you’re going and taking every chance you can, every strategy call or anything else to try to get those points.”

MARK MARTIN CONTINUED – HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH ACCUMULATING POINTS IN STAGE RACING?  “I love stage racing.  I think that my team and I would have enjoyed the strategy to try to maximize our points if we would have been able to race under that situation when I raced.  I love watching it because it’s interesting to see who decided to give up points at the end of stage one to try to gain some on stage two.  The strategies that unfold are completely different than one continuous race.  We all know that, but that adds so much interest and brings the spotlight a little bit more toward the crew chiefs and the strategies as well as the drivers.  The racing for those stage finishes has been fantastic and that’s one of my favorite changes that have been made to the series that I can recall in any time recently.”

CLINT BOWYER CONTINUED – HAS YOUR TEAM GONE TO ANY EXTRA MEASURES TO GET THAT CAR FINE-TUNED MORE AND WILL YOU BE ASKING MARK FOR ANY TIPS ON SUNDAY?  “We need to be leading more laps as a group at SHR and knocking on the door to more wins.  Obviously, we’ve gotten close a few times with some second places, but that’s the first loser.  We’ve got to be able to seal the deal, but as I said from the beginning of the year it’s all about winning our first race.  We haven’t been able to do that.  I’m focused more on that.  I care more about that.  Obviously, having a chance to win a championship and everything else, but, for me, I need to win to be able to solidify myself as a contender, but we need to be leading laps.  We need to be doing that the right way.  I don’t want to back into it on a fuel mileage deal or a lucky situation, a situational thing.  I want to be able to have those announcers talking about me all day long and carry that through to the end of the night.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.