Ford Performance NASCAR: Michigan 2 Clint Bowyer Press Conf. Transcript

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Consumers Energy 400 (Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Ford Fusion and the defending race winner at Michigan International Speedway, joined the media prior to opening practice Friday afternoon.

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford Fusion:

YOU WERE PART OF THE BIG FORD MUSTANG UNVEIL YESTERDAY, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE EVENT AND YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE CAR? “Yeah, that was a really cool deal. Yesterday was a lot of fun unveiling the new Cup Mustang. I am a car guy. I grew up at car shows and around hot rods my whole life. When you look at Ford and you look at racing, it was always bothersome to me that we weren’t racing the Mustang. The Mustang is the race car in the Ford stable and it always has been that way. To unveil that car and to look forward to seeing that on the race track is really, really cool to be a part of. Automatically you start thinking back to how we have had a really good year in what we do have and you are looking at that car and the lines on it and thinking about the capabilities and possibilities of that car in the future and it automatically just gets you more revved up about it. I am looking forward to next year with the Mustang but I am looking forward to capitalizing on the program we have with the Fusion this year and getting the most out of that. Slowly but surely here the window is opening. The playoffs are fixin’ to start and it is time to unleash the beast.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN TRYING A FORMULA 1 CAR AT ANY POINT? “I just want to go to the one where you park the boats. Here is my goal in life. To know someone rich enough that has a yacht so that when I retire I can go to Monaco and freeload on that yacht and not pay for anything but be on that yacht in Monaco to start out that day of racing. I think that should be a good goal for anyone in life. To know someone rich enough to hang out like that. That is my F1 goal. The goal has to be high.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW IMPORTANT THIS WEEKEND AT THIS TRACK IS TO START FOCUSING IN ON THE PLAYOFFS? “We were obviously really fast here last time and finished 1-2-3 with our Stewart-Haas camp. Kevin was the class of the field and I think we ran third for most of the race. We were right there. All of our cars were really, really fast. That is the last race. That is so last week. You think about racing and whoever won last week it doesn’t mean anything. Everybody gets better each week. You don’t go back after a win and sit on your hands and not do anything and talk about how good you were. You go to work on trying to get better. Doesn’t matter if you dominated the race and destroyed the field, you go back and go to work on getting better. That being said, everybody has had time to get better here and I know they will. I also know we have too. It is always exciting to go to any race track for the second time, especially when you have had some success to see how you will stack up when you load again.”

THERE IS A LOT OF BUZZ ABOUT ERIK JONES IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN AS A HOME STATE GUY. WHAT SHOULD FANS LOOK FOR IN TERMS OF JUDGING HOW GOOD THIS GUY CAN BE? “It is easy to look at just the time sheet and see how fast somebody is. That doesn’t mean anything in our world. Anybody can go fast at any given point. It is how they restart, how they race, how they run through the course of a run. Are they always moving forward? Are they going backwards? Those are the things I look for in somebody that is going to be a challenge for me on any given Sunday. How they race in traffic. How they manage their tires and their setup so that they can be good throughout not only that run but also through that stage, the second stage, and how they get the finish. I think you see some of those guys finding that consistency in that and some of them really struggle with that. I think that is what separates the men from the boys in this sport and it always has.”

WITH BRISTOL UP NEXT AND ALL THE CHANGES TO THE RACING SURFACE THERE. WHERE ARE WE WITH THAT TRACK IN YOUR OPINION? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HAVING TO NUDGE SOMEONE OUT OF THE WAY TO MAKE A PASS THERE?  “The only way you are in position to do that is by being faster. I think that race track is pretty unique. It always has been unique. We have kind of created a deal where it is kind of like a dirt track. I flew over here with Tony (Stewart), I stopped and picked him up in Knoxville and we got talking about Eldora and all the things that make that a great race track. He was talking about maybe changing a little bit of the lip on it to try to make it racey no matter what line you are in. You think about Bristol and it is about the only asphalt track in the country, probably because of the PJ1, but it is the only asphalt track in the country where you can truly change the line in the race track. We can’t do that anywhere else. We try to do it and it maybe mimics it for a few laps but Bristol seems like you can definitely change the outcome of the performance of the race track as far as what a fan sees through their eyes pretty drastically on that race track. Sometimes I think that we have to be careful in doing so because it does change our program quite a bit but as a fan I think that is probably pretty exciting because it really does throw the teams and drivers, and everyone involved for a pretty good loop because you can’t forecast or setup for that. How much did they put down? Did it rain on it? Is the temperature, right? There are so many things that go into making that a good package for grip on the race track that if you change that ingredient the least little bit, maybe by mistake or anything in between it is a pretty drastic change.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS RACE IS A BAROMETER FOR HOW GUYS COULD RACE AT VEGAS AND SOME OTHER PLACES IN THE PLAYOFFS? “They are all so unique. This track is so fast. It is a horsepower, downforce track and that is what I think those comments come from. The center of the corner is so important here and being able to roll with the momentum. That is so important. Vegas just seems like you have some bumps and character that you have to be careful of and the track is slicker and the grip level is down a little bit. Obviously, the horsepower and downforce help aid all of that but it seems when you start talking about some of those other 1.5 mile tracks, the grip level, chassis and handling come into play more than what I would think here.”

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW JIM FRANCE AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE YET? “Mike Helton took us on a fishing trip when I first started and we were down in Miami and got to spend some time with him fishing. I was young. I think I was 25 years old and I got to hang with Jim all weekend long. He is a really neat guy. A racer. When you really get to know him and talk to him and get some words out of him, he knows what is going on. He loves sports car racing, loves flat track racing, loves motorcycle racing. This guy is a racer. He is definitely a neat guy. If you talk to him, if you know him, I think you have experienced that same situation. All of my conversations with him have revolved around racing, all forms of racing. That is cool and a breath of fresh air to be around someone like that. That wasn’t the only time I have ever hung out with him, just the longest time. Ben Kennedy, they are all racers, they really are.”

COULD YOU EVER SEE THIS TRACK HAVING A RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE FOR AT LEAST ONE OF THE TWO HERE? “Yeah, if we had to give and needed another restrictor plate track for whatever reason I think you could make that work here. The track is wide. When you think about Talladega and you look at the width of this place versus Talladega, I think this is a track that you could hold it wide open the whole run all the way around and never void from that. I think you could create a pack racing atmosphere here without a doubt if you wanted to. But that isn’t my decision. If you ask my decision, no, I wouldn’t like to have that, but that is all about the people in the stands. They have always flocked to this place. This is always a good atmosphere and good vibe at this place. I urge all of you guys to get on your feet and walk through that infield here and see how much of a good time is going on. That is what we are all guilty of. We get into this world and we are in our own little world and we don’t get out and really see through the fans eyes of how they see this sport. I do all the time. It is a lot of fun. Let me tell you, they are having a good time out there. It is always fun to go out there on a golf cart or walk around and hang out and just really see how a fan sees this sport.”

THEY AREN’T USING THE COMPOUND HERE BUT WILL USE THE TIRE DRAGON. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? “Hopefully it will burn in. These things are so unique. I grew up in dirt racing. I remember being at race tracks where the flagger or corner worker would stand out there and just not let you run the bottom. You would just run the outside and it would start working down. Obviously, you can’t do that with cars going 215mph but burning in that second groove, that is my biggest thing, we seem like we go to these race tracks and they prepare the groove. We went to Texas and we got out there and they had been working for a month just burning in the groove. We need you to go up and do like we do at the old school dirt racing and get that other line burnt in and some rubber in on that. Then at Kentucky at the test they did the tire dragon and did a good job of that but you have to remember that poor guy is in a tractor going five miles per hour trying to duplicate the line we are running at 200 mph and he wasn’t exactly on point. But once you got around three I got it. I spend a lot of time in a tractor and I can’t imagine trying to figure out the line going five mph in a tractor versus 200.”

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SHOW TO BECOME MORE A PART OF THAT BIG-THREE CONVERSATION? “Same thing everybody does, more wins. You have to elevate your game and rise to their capabilities and expectations. Those guys, not only do they have the wins, they are dominant cars that have led a lot of laps when they get those wins and all the stage points and all that stuff. You have to be able to do that more consistently. On our team, that is what we have to do. We have touched on that and made some mistakes and know we have to get those mistakes behind us to capitalize on every possible situation. Every stage. Every lap. That is what we have to do better. We have to smooth out the highs and lows. You have to stay on top of the mountain. You can’t fall off the damn mountain. That is what it boils down to.”

THERE WAS A TWEET FROM ADAM STERN REGARDING KURTS STATUS NEXT YEAR. IF HE DOES LEAVE, DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THE SELECTION PROCESS FOR WHOEVER MIGHT BE A NEW TEAMMATE FOR YOU IN 2019 IF THAT IS INDEED THE CASE? “I don’t even know if that is the case. I have been out with a bunch of legends in Sturgis having a ton of fun this week. The best part about being in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota and Wyoming is that your phone doesn’t work. That is not good on the home front. The wife doesn’t really like that aspect of it. The only updates that I have been getting is to check in on the kids. No, if anything happens in the organization, yeah, I am a part of the team no different than Kevin or Aric or Kurt and if something happens different I think we all should know about it and be a part of it.”


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.