Clint Bowyer Searching for Darlington Success? Call In Ned Jarrett

With two of the most historic tracks up next on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar, then a 10-race playoff to determine the 2018 champion, No. 14 Carolina Ford Dealers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer says the needle on the sport’s intensity meter is about to be pegged.


“The pay window is starting to open and it’s time to get going,” said Bowyer, who’ll race in the 69th running of the Southern 500 Sunday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway followed by the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 2.


“This sport has two pretty big races the next two weekends and then it’s playoff time and we decide a champion. It’s the time of year when you show everything you have. This is what we’ve worked for. The intensity will pick up on the track and in the pits. This is the best time of the season.”


With so much on the line, who better to have on Bowyer’s side Sunday night than 50-time Cup Series winner and 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ned Jarrett, who has a special affinity and skill at the South Carolina oval. Jarrett won the September 1965 Southern 500 by 14 laps – the largest victory margin in NASCAR history.


Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Fusion will mimic the design Jarrett ran on his race-winning 1965 Ford Galaxie by sporting a royal blue paint scheme with period-specific graphics. The scheme is in keeping with “The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR,” during which the industry honors the sport’s history. Last year, nearly all the NASCAR Cup Series teams competed with throwback paint schemes in the Southern 500.


“If you want to be the best, you might as well go and join the best and Ned’s race down there that day is the best in the sport’s history,” Bowyer said. “I’m glad Ned will be with us this weekend. Maybe some of his success will rub off on us. Darlington has become such a cool weekend with our look back at the history of the sport.”


In the 1965 race, Jarrett drove his No. 11 Richmond Ford Motor Company Galaxie to the dominating Southern 500 victory. It marked the 49th of Jarrett’s 50 career wins and it helped secure his second and final series championship, bookending the title he won in 1961. Jarrett ran 21 races in 1966 before transitioning to a broadcasting career.


“I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to the Southern 500 and seeing everyone this weekend,” said the 85-year-old Jarrett, who will be in Darlington on Sunday. “I don’t think in this day and age you’ll see anyone win by 14 laps, but I think if you ask Clint and any of the other drivers, they’ll tell you they don’t care about the margin of victory. They just want the victory.”


Jarrett is NASCAR’s version of the NFL’s John Madden appealing to multiple generations of fans. Some fans know Madden as the Super Bowl-winning coach, others as a television commentator, while younger fans know Madden from popular video games.


NASCAR fans first met Jarrett as a champion driver. The next generation watched as he made the transition to the broadcast booth that included tenures at MRN Radio and on television with CBS, ESPN and TNN. Jarrett was the first widely known television analyst to work for different broadcast networks at the same time. He spent 22 years at CBS and 19 with ESPN while co-hosting the weekly, one-hour Inside NASCAR program on TNN.


A third generation of fans knows Jarrett as the patriarch of one of NASCAR’s first families. He and his wife Martha have two sons – Glenn and Dale – who are both former NASCAR drivers and daughter Patti J. Makar. Ned and Dale became the second father-son combination to win NASCAR Cup Series championships when Dale earned the 1999 title. Glenn followed his father’s career into racing and broadcasting and, after retiring as a driver in 2008, Dale joined Ned and Glenn as a broadcaster. Patti also worked in racing and married Jimmy Makar, who worked with Dale for three years at Joe Gibbs Racing and was the 2000 championship-winning crew chief for Bobby Labonte. Dale’s son Jason scored several ARCA victories and made numerous starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.


Bowyer hopes the Jarrett paint scheme is once again productive in Darlington. The Emporia, Kansas native is a 10-time NASCAR Cup Series winner and is in his second year driving SHR’s No. 14 Ford Fusion. Victories earlier this year at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway earned Bowyer a berth in the NASCAR playoffs that begins Sept. 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


Bowyer arrives at Darlington after enjoying the final off weekend of the 2018 season by taking his family of four on a vacation to the beach. He led 120 laps before finishing sixth at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Aug. 18, the most recent Cup Series race.


In addition to winning at the historic tracks in the coming weeks, Bowyer’s goal at Darlington and Indianapolis is to add to the 10 playoff points he already owns. His 10 points are the fourth-most behind “Big Three” drivers Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Playoff points are crucial for drivers with dreams of making it to the season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway because they are added to each driver’s tally after the point totals are reset at the end of the first three rounds of the playoffs.


Drivers earn five playoff points for a victory and one point for a stage win. Additional points are earned based on the regular-season points finish after Indianapolis. The regular-season champion earns 15 points, second place earns 10, eight for third and seven for fourth, continuing in descending increments to one point for 10th place.


Bowyer enters the Darlington race fifth in regular-season standings, trailing fourth-place teammate Kurt Busch by 20 points and leading sixth-place driver Joey Logano by eight points.

“We have a lot to race for these next two races,” Bowyer said. “Not only are winning at Darlington and Indy dreams of most drivers, but good runs at both places earn you those points that are really important if you want to advance in the playoffs.”


With historic tracks, the regular-season points race, playoff points and an upcoming playoff battle, it’s easy to see why there could be a broken needle on the sport’s intensity meter before all is said and done.

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Carolina Ford Dealers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on Darlington?

“I just love the old-school feel. The racetrack lends that feel. You know, you can’t get on that racetrack and not feel old school. They repaved it and it’s already worn out. You run right up against the wall, it’s unique, you’ve got to be able to attack the track, but be patient enough and respectful enough to not ruin your day and destroy your car. It’s just very, very old school as you go back through there.”


Do you ever wish you could race back in the day?

“I would have loved to compete in the 1970s and ’80s. You were able to go to the shop and work your rear end off and reap the benefits after you dusted the competition that weekend by having something that they didn’t, or because you outfoxed them.”


Why is this time of year important in NASCAR?

“First, everyone who has ever raced in NASCAR has wanted to win in Darlington. Taking that trophy home will be one of the best feelings in the world. Second, in the big picture, it’s close to money time. This is when the pay window opens and we put everything we’ve learned in 2018 on the line. All the hours put in by the folks at the race shop, at the track and all of our supporters, this is what our whole year has focused on. And then, in just a couple of weeks, 16 teams will have 10 races to win a championship.”


What are your thoughts on Darlington?

“I like the uniqueness of the track. I’ve struggled to have good finishes there but we’ve always raced well. We just can’t seem to seal the deal at the end. Something always goes haywire in the end but, sooner or later, we are going to overcome that and have a good weekend.”


Do you remember your first Darlington experience?

“My first Cup race at Darlington was 2007 and I won the pole. Truth be told, it scared the daylights out of me.”

Notes of Interest:
  • Bowyer owns career totals of 10 wins, two poles, 70 top-five finishes, 191 top-10s and 2,811 laps led in 457 Monster Energy 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 49 points-paying victories and 40 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. Harvick has won seven times in 2018 while Bowyer owns two victories and Busch one this season.
  • Bowyer has led 451 laps in 2018. That surpasses a career-best of 400 set in 2010.
  • SHR Fords occupy three of the top five positions in the 2018 standings and four positions in the top-12. Harvick is second, Busch is fourth, Bowyer fifth, and Aric Almirola 12th.
  • SHR has one points-paying victory at Darlington (Harvick in April 2014) and has eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in 24 starts.
  • SHR & Off-Weekends: There are only three off weekends on the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar and SHR has won the week before each. Bowyer won the week before each of the first two. His March 26 victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway preceded the first off weekend, and his June 10 victory at Richmond (Va.) Raceway preceded the second off weekend. Busch made it a trifecta by winning Aug. 18 at Bristol. The next off weekend is after the conclusion of the 2018 season at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
  • 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 in June, 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 win at Michigan in June was the 44th overall NASCAR Cup Series win for the No. 14 since 1949. In addition to Bowyer’s two victories, Tony Stewart owns 16 victories, Fonty Flock won 14 races in the No. 14, including the first for the number at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, North Carolina in April 1951. Three other drivers have scored wins in the No. 14: Jim Paschal with seven, Herschel McGriff with four, and Bobby Allison with one.
  • Bowyer’s Best Finishes at SHR (2017-2018):
    • Wins
      • 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:
    • 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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