Clint Bowyer No. 14 Crew Chief Mike Bugarewicz Hopes for a Happy Homecoming

Every crew chief in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage wants to win Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, but No. 14 crew chief Mike (Buga) Bugarewicz has a little extra incentive.


He grew up in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, just 20 minutes from the track.


“I used to go to qualifying all the time there – Pocono means a lot to me,” he said. “It would really mean a lot to me to have a win there at some point in my career. I haven’t been successful with that, yet, but I hope to change that shortly.”


Shortly could come Sunday when Bugarewicz’s driver Clint Bowyer takes to the 2.5-mile layout known as the “Tricky Triangle.” He should be one of the favorites.


Bowyer arrives at Pocono eighth in points after posting three top-five finishes and seven top 10s in the season’s first 13 races. Last week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Bowyer raced inside the top-five for some of the race before earning a 12th-place finish.


The Bowyer-Bugarewicz combination has already visited victory lane once in 2018 when it won the rain-delayed race March 26 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The victory gave Bowyer his first win at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and gave Bugarewicz his second career victory as a crew chief. His first came at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in 2016 in what turned out to be Tony Stewart’s final Cup Series victory as a driver.


It’s been a long journey for Bugarewicz, who spent a lot of time watching his father race at Mahoning Valley (Pa.) Speedway and working on cars at his father’s business long before he even owned a driver’s license. He studied mechanical engineering and performed research for the U.S. Navy through Applied Research Laboratories in graduate school at Penn State University before heading to North Carolina to embark on a NASCAR career that peaked at SHR. He won a championship serving as the lead engineer on SHR’s No. 4 car with Kevin Harvick in 2014. He took over the No. 14 crew chief duties in 2016 for Stewart’s final year of NASCAR competition.

Bugarewicz said he never doubted the No. 14 would return to victory lane with Bowyer.


“I can’t say I wondered when, but I wanted us to break through,” Bugarewicz said. “I wanted it for the team, for the company. This team has been through a lot over three years. Getting Tony his last win was great, was a big step, was great for Tony, was great for the team. But then you always want at least one every year, right? And last year, we didn’t have one and struggled for a little bit and had moments of greatness and moments of struggles. At times it was hard to put a race together. In 2018, we have been more consistent. The team is gelling well. Me and Clint are gelling well. And we’re very fortunate that we’ve already got a win.”

Some of the No. 14 team’s biggest competition will come from SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, who has won five races in 2018 plus the NASCAR All-Star Race two weekends ago. SHR drivers Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola are sixth and 10th in the standings.


Bowyer and Harvick have been friends since 2006, when he arrived at Richard Childress Racing. This weekend at Pocono, they are waging a friendly battle. Bowyer is driving the Busch Light Ford while Harvick is campaigning the Busch Ford.


They plan to compete against each other in social media events this weekend and will appear on stage together at 7:15 p.m. EDT Friday at Pocono’s Block Party in the infield.


Bowyer would love to best his buddy Harvick and bring home the trophy in Pennsylvania, giving Bugarewicz a career highlight he’ll likely never forget.


“Pocono is a really tough track with three different turns,” he said. “I want to make sure we qualify well so we can get a good starting position and pit stall. Winning in Pennsylvania with Buga would be cool. He’d be thrilled. Heck, so would all of us.”

MIKE BUGAREWICZ, Crew Chief of the No. 14 Busch Light Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What was it like to watch Clint Bowyer break a winless streak and win at Martinsville?

“I’m so happy for him to finally get another one, get a picture with his son. I know he’s wanted that for a long, long time, and I really liked it for this team. It’s not always seen because we’re not always up there leading all the laps in every race, but these guys work just as hard as any team out there. We’re a really tight‑knit group, and well-deserving for this whole team and whole company that really dug hard all winter long.”


What are some of the ways you and Clint Bowyer are better in 2018?

“I think one of the biggest things we just worked on was our relationship together. I think, even myself at times, I would question myself. ‘Am I doing the right things, am I doing the right things to help him, am I making the right calls, am I doing the right things to the cars?’ You’re always going to do that until you prove yourself out again and you’re always running good and got the chance to compete for wins. Like I said, last year there were some weeks that, man, we really felt that way. We had some really good days going. And other times, you know, not so much. And we’re wondering, ‘Are we doing things wrong or what’s going on?’ But this year, you know, coming out of the box, it’s all changed. It’s all been fast, it’s all been confidence in us working together, and literally just like talking a lot and just really talking about how we’re going to be better and what we need to do, being a bigger team.”

Notes of Interest:
  • Bowyer owns career totals of nine wins, two poles, 67 top-five finishes, 187 top-10s and 2,660 laps led in 446 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories.
    • His most recent Cup Series victory came at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018).
    • His most recent Cup Series pole came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (Sept. 16, 2007).
  • 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 45 points victories and 38 poles since its inception in 2009. It also owns three non-points victories in the Cup Series and two Xfinity Series victories. 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 has won five times in 2018 while Bowyer owns one victory this season.
  • Bowyer at Pocono: He’s earned two top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 24 starts at the 2.5-mile track. In June of 2017, Bowyer finished 17th after wall contact on lap 58 forced a trip to the pits for repairs. It appeared Bowyer had a top-10 finish in his sights before incurring damage. In July, he led five laps and earned his only stage victory, capturing the second stage before finishing sixth in the race.
  • SHR has two victories at Pocono (Tony Stewart in June 2009 and Kurt Busch in June 2016) and has 20 top-five finishes and 28 top-10s in 54 starts.
  • Crew chief Mike “Buga” 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. In 2018 they earned their first victory together winning at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March. 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 Best Finishes at SHR (2017-2018):
    • Wins
      • Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018)
    • 2nd place: 
      • Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May 6, 2018)
      • 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:
    • Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018)
    • 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)
  • TSC PR

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