Clint Bowyer Restarts at Auto Club – ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’

North Carolina (March 13, 2018) – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tour offers fans the thrills of nose-to-tail drafting packs at Daytona and Talladega, the beating and banging at short tracks like Bristol and Martinsville and the high speeds of the mile-and-a-half tracks like Charlotte and Atlanta.

 

Clint Bowyer believes you have to add Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California to that list for one simple reason: restarts.

 

For proof of the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver’s claim, one only needs to tune in to FOX at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday to watch the fifth race of the 2018 Cup Series season – the Auto Club 400. Bowyer says the wild restarts at the track east of Los Angeles are as spectacular from behind the steering wheel as they are in the grandstands and on television.

 

“The restarts at California are awesome,” said Bowyer, who added that drivers can choose from among five different racing lines on the 2-mile, D-shaped oval. “I think it’s great for the fans. You see us get bunched up for the restart and go off into turn one. All hell breaks loose and it looks like we are 25 cars wide. When that spotter says, ‘Outside,’ you better be sure there is just one car outside of you and not two or three.”

 

Bowyer knows what he’s talking about when he cites the frenetic racing at Fontana. Last year, he started overtime in seventh place and raced to third in the two laps of competition before the checkered flag waved. It capped a day that saw Bowyer earn points in all three stages of the race, and it marked his third top-three finish at Fontana.

 

Bowyer will carry Rush Truck Center decals on his No. 14 Ford Sunday when he makes his 438th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and 18th career Cup Series start at Fontana. He owns three top-five finishes and eight top-10s and has led 47 laps.

 

Bowyer said he loves the challenge the track presents to the drivers and teams.

 

“The speeds are always very fast at California and, on top of that, the grip level goes away drastically fast,” Bowyer said. “For me, I love that. I love how the track slicks off and you have to focus on the balance. You can’t have that front end turning too good and have that rear end pulling out from under you, and vice versa.”

The width of the track also poses some challenges for both the driver and his spotter.

“You really have to focus in on the communication with your spotter,” he said. “When he says they are running the top, you have to think about what he really means. With a track as wide as California, you have to know where the other cars are at all times.”

 

Bowyer arrives at the end of the Cup Series’ three-race West Coast swing after finishing sixth at ISM Raceway near Phoenix last weekend. That finish, coupled with a 15th at Daytona, third at Atlanta and 18th at Las Vegas, vaulted Bowyer to ninth place in the standings.

 

Most importantly, the SHR organization is on a roll.

 

All four SHR drivers finished in the top-10 Sunday at Phoenix, and Kevin Harvick won his third consecutive race and the 46th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 42nd points-paying Cup Series win and SHR’s sixth Cup Series victory with Ford. Harvick leads the points with Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch ninth, 10th and 11th in points.

 

Bowyer would like to see the success continue this weekend at Fontana, where SHR owns two victories scored by Tony Stewart in October 2010 and March 2012.

 

“I’d say that was pretty much a statement last week,” Bowyer said. “Maybe we can do it again this weekend in Fontana.”

What is it like to drive at Auto Club Speedway?

“I think I’ve been going there 12, 13 years now. I remember single file around there. Couldn’t really pass. Ring around the bottom. Now, I mean, all hell breaks loose on those restarts. You’re trying to protect the bottom. They’re calling you outside. You don’t know if you’re three-wide, four-wide, 12-wide. It’s all because of a really wide, cool racetrack. A fast racetrack and a lot of grooves. Five different grooves to race on all day long. It’s just a lot of fun to be out there. Very challenging track. Trying to balance those front tires, the rear tires, not push ’em off. You can overdrive your car. I did one run. Thing fell away. You know, you learn from your mistakes and go on.”

 

What is the secret to success at Auto Club Speedway?

“You’ve got to be able to adapt, you’ve got to be able to have the car free enough across the center so you can throttle through the corners, not too tight, and tight enough that the rear doesn’t come out from underneath you. It’s a constant battle balancing those tires and taking care of those tires, as well.”

Notes of Interest:
  • Sunday’s race will mark Clint Bowyer’s 438th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 18th Cup Series start at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, where he owns three top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He has led 47 laps.

    Bowyer owns career totals of eight wins, two poles, 65 top-five finishes, 182 top-10s and 2,360 laps led in 437 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories.

     

    • ​His most recent Cup Series victory came at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (Oct. 13, 2012).
    • His most recent Cup Series pole came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007).
  • Rush Truck Centers is the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in the United States, with more than 100 dealership locations in 21 states. These vehicle centers, strategically located in high traffic areas on or near major highways, represent truck and bus manufacturers, including Peterbilt, International, Hino, Isuzu, Ford, Mitsubishi, IC Bus and Blue Bird.  They offer an integrated approach to meeting customer needs — from sales of new and used vehicles to aftermarket parts, service and body shop operations plus financing, insurance, leasing and rental.
  • The 2018 season marks the 10th anniversary of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). The Kannapolis, North-Carolina-based team is co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas andhas recorded 42 victories and 35 poles since its inception in 2009. Stewart won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title and Kevin Harvick gave SHR its second title in 2014. SHR’s Kurt Busch won last year’s Daytona 500, and Harvick won June 25 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. This year, Harvick is coming off back-to-back-to-back victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway Feb. 25, Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 4 and Sunday at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.
  • SHR has two victories (Tony Stewart in 2010 and 2005), 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 31 starts at Auto Club Speedway. SHR cars have led 358 laps at the 2-mile oval.
  • Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is in his third season as a Cup Series crew chief. He oversaw Tony Stewart’s final campaign in 2016 and his pit strategy played a key role in Stewart’s victory at Sonoma in June 2016. Bugarewicz and Bowyer’s first season together in 2017 saw the duo post the 11th-best average finish of all full-time teams. The Lehighton, Pennsylvania native served as the lead engineer on SHR’s No. 4 entry in 2014 and 2015. The Penn State University graduate was the only rookie crew chief to be part of the Cup Series playoffs in 2016.
  • Bowyer’s Top Finishes at SHR (2017-2018):
    • 2nd place: 
      • Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 24, 2017)
      • Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 25, 2017)
      • Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (July 1, 2017)
    • 3rd place:
      • Atlanta Motor Speedway (Feb. 25, 2018)
      • Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (March 26, 2017)
      • Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (Oct. 29, 2017)
  • Bowyer’s Stage Victories In 2017
    • Pocono (Pa.) Raceway Stage 2 (July 30, 2017)
  • Bowyer Cup Series Career Victories:
    • Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (Oct. 13, 2012)
    • Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (Sept. 8, 2012)
    • Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 24, 2012)
    • Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 23, 2011)
    • Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 31, 2010)
    • New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 19, 2010)
    • Richmond International Raceway (May 3, 2008)
    • New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007)
  • Bowyer Cup Series Career Poles:
    • New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 14, 2007)
    • Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (May 11, 2007)
  • Bowyer Career Cup Series Points Finishes:
    • 2017 18th
    • 2016 27th
    • 2015 16th
    • 2014 19th
    • 2013 7th
    • 2012 2nd
    • 2011 13th
    • 2010 10th
    • 2009 15th
    • 2008   5th ​
    • 2007  3rd
    • 2006 17th
  • Bowyer Cup Series Career Stops:
    • 2017- Present Stewart-Haas Racing
    • ​2016  HScott Motorsports
    • 2012-2015  Michael Waltrip Racing
    • 2006-2011 Richard Childress Racing
  • Bowyer Xfinity Series Championship:
    • 2008
  • Bowyer Xfinity Series Career Victories:
    • Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 26, 2009)
    • Daytona (Fla) International Speedway (July 3, 2009)
    • Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (March 15, 2008)
    • Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (May 4, 2007)
    • Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in Avondale (April 20, 2007)
    • Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 23, 2006)
    • Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park  (Oct. 22, 2005)
    • Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway (June 12, 2005)
  • Bowyer Camping World Truck Series Victories:
    • Kansas (Kan.) Speedway in Kansas City (June 4, 2011)
    • Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in Avondale (Nov.12, 2010)
    • Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nov. 3, 2006)

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