Ford Performance NASCAR: Sonoma (Clint Bowyer Media Availability)

Ford PR


Date: Friday June 23, 2017

Event: Toyota Save Mart 350 (Media Availability)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Sonoma Raceway (2.52-mile road course)

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Cars 3 Ford Fusion, met with media members Friday prior to opening Monster Energy Cup Series practice in his Lightning McQueen paint scheme. Bowyer spoke about looking for continued success on the track and his season to date.

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Cars 3 Ford Fusion — TALK ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS AT THIS ROAD COURSE AND HOW THAT WEIGHS INTO YOUR APPROACH HERE THIS WEEKEND: “I have no idea how this became one of my best tracks. It sucks that my stats got knocked down by catching on fire five laps into the race last year. I am just looking forward to it. It has been three weeks in a row of letdowns. We have had fast cars. Bugga has brought solid, solid race cars and haven’t been able to get the finishes the last three weeks. We need a turnaround and I can’t think of a better track for me personally to do that. For us at Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony (Stewart) won here last year in the 14 car. Hopefully lightning strikes again. The kid (Kyle Larson) won in the Lightning McQueen scheme last week and it would be cool to take Lightning McQueen to victory lane again this week. We got an early showing of the movie as an industry. Laura took Cash to it, I was out of town, and he had a ton of fun at that. They have done a good job promoting that and it is a big deal for our sport. I am proud to have that paint scheme on the side of my car this weekend.”

DOES CASH KNOW CARS? DOES HE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE DRIVING THE LIGHTNING MCQUEEN CAR THIS WEEK? “To be honest we didn’t tell him this week. It would be a huge major deal if he knew that Lightning McQueen was with us. He is a big fan. We have watched that movie no less than 300 times. He definitely is well aware of what that paint scheme is and who Lightning McQueen is.”

WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL HIM? “Well, he had to stay home. This is one of those trips on the road where you don’t have the bus and it is almost impossible to bring the kids on the road out here. Pretty much every driver – the wives go out and have some fun. It was hard with the little one now for her to walk away from them. It was a tough week but that is why we didn’t tell him. Hopefully he will be able to see it on the news come Sunday afternoon back home.”

ARE YOU CONCERNED HE MIGHT BE MORE OF A LIGHTNING MCQUEEN FAN THAT A FAN OF HIS DAD? “Well, he already likes Kyle Busch because of M&M’s just like every other kid in the country. So it is like, ‘come here kid, let’s go meet him.’ You know, I saw Owen (Larson) in victory lane last weekend and he was so pumped up. He just knew that he and Lightning McQueen were hanging out in victory lane. I guarantee you he was pumped about that.”

WHEN DID IT DAWN ON YOU  THAT YOU HAD TALENT FOR ROAD RACING? “The win was a shocker. I always have fun here. Attitude is everything and you don’t want to believe that until you see it but this has always been a fun weekend for me. The area, the event of this race track is awesome. The fan base. Everything about this place. How you can’t hardly get into it yourself as a competitor on Sunday morning. It just tells you about the event as a whole and the job they do promoting this and job we do putting on a show on this race track.”

CLINT BOWYER CONTINUED — GOING FROM A NORMAL TWO-STOP RACE HERE WITH THE STAGES TO MAYBE FOUR OR FIVE STOPS. HOW DOES THAT CHANGE THE STRATEGY? “It will certainly change a lot about this track. Who knows? That has been such a big thing and a good thing I guess for our sport. If there ever was an exception to that rule you hope it is not here. You make those rules to try to ramp up the competition everywhere across the board and sometimes there are race tracks that maybe didn’t need it. This is one of those places where you didn’t need anything but obviously you have to make rules to be good for everywhere. I don’t know. I think the strategy side will kind of go by the wayside and you will have to push as hard as you can. We have been pretty easy on our equipment over the years by being able to pace ourselves, save fuel, not just dive-bomb every single corner of every lap. You might see some attrition show up because of it. And you will see desperation show up at the end. That is the thing. As this track ages and wears out, each year we come back it seems you take every opportunity you can to pit and take tires because they are a premium and I think this year will be another step in that direction.”

YOU ARE ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH YOUR NEW SEASON WITH THE NEW TEAM AND YOU HAVE NOW HAD THE CHANCE TO DRIVE THREE MANUFACTURER CARS. WHICH ONE DO YOU LIKE BEST? “The fit factor couldn’t be better for me going to Stewart-Haas Racing. I was friends with all of them and worked with most of them. If you had to look in a glass ball and make that perfect match made in heaven atmosphere it was definitely there. To be here with teammates like I have – coming here, Kevin Harvick has always been a great road racer and Kurt Busch is a fantastic road racer here. He is one of the best here. To be able to come here and be able to push each other and work with one another and get an even better setup than we have had before, that is what teammates and an organization like Stewart-Haas is all about. I am looking forward to that. The year has been up and down. It started off really great and solid and then got mediocre. The last few weeks we have been really fast but just can’t get the finish. It is frustrating going home the last few weeks knowing you left something on the table. At Dover we were running really well and an oil tank failed. Then I crashed the damn thing the last two weeks. It has been a total team effort getting to the top and back to where we are at.”

“As for the manufacturers, they are all good. It is all about people. There were things I liked about all of them. Certainly I am at home here with Ford. It is a family atmosphere. It literally is a family with the Ford family. It is all about people. Dave (Pericak) and Raj (Nair) and all the people involved with the Ford Performance organization and program are a ton of fun to work with. They are all in. I guess that is today’s day in age. You want to be with the ones that are investing the most and pushing the hardest to get the results and I don’t think anyone is doing more than Ford these days.”

WHERE DOES ROAD RACING RATE ON YOUR FAVORITE TYPES OF COURSES? IT SEEMS LIKE ROAD RACING HAS BECOME THE NEW SHORT TRACKS. “It is. This track in particular. When you go to Watkins Glen it is a ton of fun but it is a whole different beast. It is wide-open. You are way more at ease here. This is a short track with finesse, rear grip, take care of your tires, type of track. But again, beating and banging and getting the most of of getting under someone and out-braking them. I think this is a much more technical track than Watkins Glen. I don’t want to knock the Glen. When you go there, it is balls to the wall. You have to be extremely good on braking and have a fast race car. Here, I feel you can carry things a little more at a track like this. Both of them are a ton of fun and so unique. That is the thing. We race and chase each other in circles non-stop. It is refreshing to have a break like this when we come out here and go to Watkins Glen.”

YOU HAVE BEEN FAST EACH WEEK. CAN YOU EVALUATE BETWEEN NOW AND WHEN THE PLAYOFFS START, WHICH TRACKS WILL BE YOUR BEST SHOT TO GRAB A VICTORY? “I think we have been solid each week. We need to be better to be fast week in and week out. You need to improve everywhere. It seems like today’s day in age your cars have to unload fast and even on a short track somehow, someway that relates to a 1.5 mile track these days. It used to not be that way. you used to have your bread and butter. My whole career was short tracks. Then I qualified third last weekend at Michigan. It is all about the team, those race cars and making them as fast as possible. That goes for aero, having the right setup underneath with simulation and everything. Everything has to be perfect. It is so much more competitive than 10 years ago when I came into this sport. You can’t have a down area. You can’t have a weak link. It is all across the board that has to be 100% perfect.”

SINCE YOU ENJOY ROAD RACING SO MUCH, WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO LE MANS? YOU HAVE A FORD CONNECTION NOW WITH THE GT CAR. “I want to just go to and have fun. That is what I want to do when I retire. I don’t know that if you showed up with at Le Mans that they would let you in there (Laughter). Can you wear blue jeans to that place?”

YES. “You can? Can you have any fun? Do you have to put your pinkie finger out when you drink? Can you blow anything up? Can you catch things on fire?”

OH YES, THEY DO. “You do? Well, I might go.”


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.