It’s good that Clint Bowyer knows and appreciates his racing history, because he’s going to live it this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series holds its regular-season finale Sunday.
Bowyer will drive the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion co-owned by Gene Haas and the Hoosier-state’s favorite son, Tony Stewart, in the 25th-annual Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard.
Bowyer knows wearing a Mobil 1 Racing suit while driving the three-time champion Stewart’s entry, which carries the No. 14 made famous by four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt at the Brickyard, is a lot to live up to and an honor.
“There’s just a lot of pride that goes into driving that Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Mobil 1 and Rush each time we race,” Bowyer said. “But carrying the No. 14 at Indy ratchets it up a whole other level. Everyone knows what that number means there. I was watching some stuff on A.J. Foyt and I was like, ‘Man, what a bad a**.’ That guy was so cool out of that racecar, and then he got in that thing and drove it just like that grizzly bear he looked like out of the car.”
Bowyer said the Mobil 1 paint scheme fans will see on his Ford at Indy goes beyond a marketing effort. Mobil 1 plays an integral role in SHR’s success. Mobil 1’s lubricant technology helps to reduce frictional loss in his Ford engines to maximize fuel mileage, increase horsepower and turn more rpm, providing an advantage over competitors. Mobil 1 also helps reduce friction in suspension components, providing maximum tire grip as well as helping to reduce steering compliance to give its teams an edge behind the wheel. Not only does Mobil 1 help improve the on-track efficiency of SHR, but the on-track testing helps lead to new lubricant technology developments such as Mobil 1 Annual Protection, which allows drivers to travel up to 20,000 miles, or one full year, between oil changes. In its 16th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
Rush Truck Centers has its own history at SHR. It’s 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.
Bowyer said he’ll take any advantage he can get this weekend because Indy is a difficult track for the stock-car crowd, whose cars lack the downforce of their open-wheel counterparts in the IndyCar Series.
The rectangular oval track includes two 5/8-mile straightaways and four nearly identical quarter-mile turns connected by short, eighth-mile straightaways. The turns are banked about nine degrees – far flatter than the 30-plus-degree banking at tracks like Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and others that are part of the NASCAR schedule.
“Indy is just so unique,” said Bowyer, who has posted two top-five and three-top 10 finishes in 13 starts at Indianapolis. “You’re going so fast. The corners are so flat. You’ve got to have that baby flat to the floor, all the way around. It’s just a hard, hard track to get around.”
He said the key to racing success there is managing risk behind the steering wheel.
“The challenge is trying to be patient,” Bowyer said. “You just have to be patient. You push it to the edge there. You come off of them corners and you’re like, ‘There’s no way. I’m gonna hit the wall. Whoo.’ By the way, I gotta do that 400 more miles.”
He hopes Indy will erase the bad memories from last weekend’s race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Driving a paint scheme similar to Ned Jarrett’s 1965 race-winning Ford, Bowyer climbed to fifth before dropping to 27th a lap behind the leaders when he had to make an extra stop midway through the race. Bowyer climbed back to 12th, but a hard crash with 58 laps remaining left him with a 36th-place finish.
Bowyer would like to add a third victory to his 2018 resume at Indianapolis. He also wants 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, third earns eight, fourth earns seven – continuing in descending increments to one point for 10th place.
Bowyer enters the Indianapolis race eighth in the regular-season standings, trailing fourth-place teammate Kurt Busch by 58 points and leading ninth-place driver Ryan Blaney by 22 points.
That’s a lot of incentive for Bowyer at Indy, and he has history on his side.
|CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on Indianapolis?
“I love going to Indianapolis. The history and tradition behind it is very special. It’s a huge opportunity, and a privilege, to be able to race on it. I understand the significance of Indianapolis. I enjoy not only the city but also the racetrack. Knowing Tony’s thoughts about Indianapolis only makes it more important we do well this weekend.”
What makes winning at Indianapolis so special?
“Oh, I think it’s the racetrack, man. It’s the history behind it. It’s a hard race. It’s a hard place to get around, as a driver. But it all comes down to the history, the people who have won that race and won at that racetrack before you. That’s why you want to win there so badly.”
- Bowyer owns career totals of 10 wins, two poles, 70 top-five finishes, 191 top-10s and 2,811 laps led in 458 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 eighth and Aric Almirola 12th.
- In 2017 Bowyer started 18th at the Brickyard but climbed to sixth in the closing laps. However his raced ended with a hard crash into the inside wall in turn four after he made contact with Paul Menard avoiding another car’s spin. The accident left him with a 30th-place finish.
- SHR has won once at Indianapolis (Ryan Newman in 2013) and posted five top-fives and 12 top-10s in 27 starts.
- Bowyer owns two top-five and three top-10 finishes in 12 starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- 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):
- 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 Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images