Life is fun for No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion driver Clint Bowyer these days, and he’s doing his best to share that fun throughout the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with teammates, fans, tracks and his corporate partners.
Bowyer has always been a lively character, but his 2018 success that includes two victories, six top-fives and 10 top-10s has brought him to the forefront as one of the sport’s most sparkling personalities. The Emporia, Kansas, native is sixth in the standings at the season’s halfway mark, and he has cemented a role with the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team that has won seven races and scored 22 top-fives and 40 top-10s in 2018.
“It is a ton of fun to be able to win at this level of auto racing,” said Bowyer, who travels this week to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway to compete in Saturday night’s 60th annual Coke Zero Sugar 400. “It is a dream come true to compete at this level, and once you are sitting in victory lane and you’ve beaten the best of the best, there is no feeling like it. To be able to share that with the men and women of Stewart-Haas Racing in victory lane, there is absolutely no gratification like that.”
Bowyer hopes to share that feeling with Daytona race fans as well this weekend. He and Daytona President Chip Wile created a “BBQ, Brews and Bowyer” ticket package that’s right down the alley of any Bowyer fan. The special package, $149 per ticket for adults and $69 for children 12 and under, includes food, beverages, Kansas City-style BBQ and Coca-Cola products in a Midway suite, along with a reserved seat and a visit by Bowyer before the race Saturday night.
Why would a driver agree to such an event minutes before racing at 200 mph on the high banks of Daytona? Bowyer said events like this are a key to success for NASCAR in the future. He’s learned this through his experiences in short-track racing as well as through attending team sports as a fan.
“When I go to a football game, I go to a (NFL’s Kansas City) Chiefs games in the wintertime. I can’t wait to go back,” he said, “can’t wait to tailgate at Arrowhead. It is the best damn time I have ever had with my buddies. We go and let our hair down and have fun. Believe it or not I have left there and went, ‘Hey, who won?’ It is an event, not just a football game. You are there for the football game and there for the racing, but you are there for a good time.”
He sees NASCAR trending in the right direction, giving as much thought to the on-track product as well as what goes on in the grandstands and fan zones.
“I think (NASCAR’s) product is as good as it has ever been,” Bowyer said. “That is not an argument – the racing is better than it has ever been. Our tracks, they put on a show. They put on a party. They put on an event. It is not just those racecars on the track that put on that event. You have to be able to entertain the people, our fans, all weekend long. If you are going to invite them to the racetrack, you have to be able to put on a show and have them come back to their families and friends with memories and moments that they remember.”
It’s fitting Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford will carry the Rush Truck Centers paint scheme again this weekend in Daytona. Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010.
The Texas-based company has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states. According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities and knows that, with Bowyer’s background, he is the right guy to help get the message out.
|“Rush Truck Centers keeps our trucks and transporters in great condition, and you could argue those are the most important parts of our race team. Without them, our cars never get to the racetrack,” said Bowyer, who will also spend time with Rush customers and guests this weekend to make their visit to the track memorable. “The employees of Rush Truck Centers are as detail-oriented as we are, and their technicians are the heartbeat of their dealerships. They play a critical role in the success of our race team.”
The team from Rush Truck Centers and Rush Enterprises Chairman, CEO and President Rusty Rush can frequently be found at the track hosting customers and supporting Bowyer and SHR. Bowyer considers them to be among his closest racing friends. In fact, when Bowyer won at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March, Rush happened to be in that part of the country on business and made a surprise visit to help Bowyer and the team celebrate the victory.
Bowyer said Rush Truck Centers is not only a partner but a key ingredient to the team’s success.
“We love seeing our friends from Rush Truck Centers and spending time with their customers,” he said. “Plus, Rusty knows our entire crew, and the leadership and inspiration he provides truly help motivate all of us.”
Daytona promises to be a fun weekend for Bowyer between BBQs with fans, hanging with Rush Truck Centers folks and the chance to race on the high banks of Daytona.
|CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|What are your first memories of racing at Daytona International Speedway?
“I remember Richard Childress hiring me and sending me to an ARCA test at Daytona. My eyes are this big; “Daytona? Really?” To be able to roll through that tunnel and see those high banks and Daytona, that’s your “I’ve made it” moment, and it’s still that way today. Every time you go there in February and roll through those tunnels and see them high banks, it just gives you chills. You know what I mean? You come back in July you don’t have – those are sweats, that’s sweat, those aren’t chills anymore. If you get chills in July, you need to go lay down, you’re too hot. But so much fun to be able to go back there, and every single year it’s just meaningful to get on those high banks and be able to compete at Daytona; because for me, it’s always been that moment of, “Hey, man, I got here.”
- Bowyer owns career totals of 10 wins, two poles, 70 top-five finishes, 190 top-10s and 2,689 laps led in 450 NASCAR Cup Series races. He also owns eight Xfinity Series victories.
- His most recent Cup Series victory came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (June 10, 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 46 points-paying victories and 39 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 two victories this season.
- Bowyer at Daytona: He’s earned four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 25 starts.
- Bowyer in the 2018 Daytona 500: Bowyer started 10th and stayed patient early in the race hoping to avoid any potential multicar accidents. The strategy proved correct as he missed a lap-101 accident that eliminated several cars. However, immediately after the accident he reported his car was down a cylinder. He finished a lap down in 15th.
- SHR has three Cup Series victories at Daytona (Kurt Busch in the 2017 Daytona 500, Stewart in 2009 and 2012 July races) and has 12 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 58 starts. SHR cars have led 341 laps.
- Best Season Ever, So Far: Bowyer’s average finish in 2018 is 9.9. His best career average finish at season’s end was 10.9 in 2012 at Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer won three races and finished second in the points that season.
- SHR Sweep: SHR’s sweep of first, second and third place June 10 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn was a first for the organization founded in 2009. It marked the first time a Cup Series team had swept the top-three positions since September 2008, when Roush Fenway Racing swept the podium at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
- Off-Weekend Motivation: There are only three off weekends on the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar and Bowyer has already won the week before each of the first two. His victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on March 26 preceded the first off weekend and his victory Sunday preceded the second off-weekend. Bowyer is hoping he can complete the trifecta by winning the Aug. 18 race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway that precedes the final off weekend of the season.
- All-Time Victory List: Bowyer’s 10 career victories put him in a 59th-place tie on the all-time wins list with Donnie Allison and Sterling Marlin.
- Crew chief Mike “Buga” Bugarewicz is in his third season as a Cup Series crew chief. He oversaw 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. His two-tire call minutes before a caution combined with Bowyer’s aggressive driving at Michigan last Sunday earned the duo its second victory of the 2018 season. 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.
- Buga Calls: Bugarewicz has made two race-winning strategy calls in his career at SHR. In 2016 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Bugarewicz pitted Stewart from midpack before most of the leaders made their final stop of the race. A caution a few laps later moved Stewart to the front of the field, allowing the three-time champion to put on a classic driving display in a closing-laps battle with Denny Hamlin to win his 49th and final Cup Series race. At Michigan last weekend, he called for a two-tire stop when the rest of the leaders did four, moving Bowyer from third place to first. Bowyer held off a hard-charging Harvick for the win.
- Bowyer’s Hometown of Emporia, Kansas is about a 90-minute drive southwest of Kansas Speedway. Emporia, with a population of 25,000, is home to Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College. In 1953, Emporia was the site of the first Veterans Day observance in the United States. At the urging of local shoe cobbler Alvin J. King, U.S. Representative Edward Rees introduced legislation in The United States Congress to rename Armistice Day as Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Oct. 8, 1954.
- Bowyer’s Paternal Grandfather: Dale E. Bowyer was a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army. He won the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism while fighting the armed enemy in Germany during World War II. The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army. It is awarded for extraordinary heroism. While leading his platoon under heavy fire in an attack near Sinz, Germany, on Jan. 25, 1945, Lt. Bowyer was severely wounded by an enemy mine. He refused evacuation even though both feet were shattered. He shouted instructions and encouragement where he lay. Inspired by his bravery, the men re-formed, moved clear of the mine field and continued the advance. Only then did Lt. Bowyer allow himself to be evacuated, crawling clear of the mine field to avoid injury to people. “His devotion to duty and to his men, and his courage and fearless determination, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service,” read the commendation he received. Lt. Bowyer eventually lost a leg due to his injuries. After his career in the Army, he lived in Iola, Kansas, and worked in the dairy business. He passed away in June 1974. Bowyer never met his grandfather.
- Bowyer’s Best Finishes at SHR (2017-2018):
- Michigan International Speedway (June 10, 2018)
- 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:
- Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 24, 2018)
- 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:
- Michigan International Speedway (June 10, 2018)
- 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:
- 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/Photo Credit Robert Laberge/Getty Images