Clint Bowyer It’s All or Nothing at Phoenix for ITsavvy Ford Driver

Clint Bowyer’s strategy is about as clear-cut as it gets this weekend at ISM Raceway near Phoenix when he competes in the next-to-last Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2018 season.

 

If the No. 14 ITsavvy Ford driver wins Sunday, he advances to the Championship 4 round next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway to compete in the four-way, winner-take-all title race. Anything less this weekend at Phoenix sends Bowyer to Homestead battling for a finish of fifth to eighth in the final point standings.

 

It’s going to take a spectacular effort for the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver to advance Sunday, but Phoenix is a pretty good place for Bowyer and his SHR organization.

 

“It’s a pretty simple strategy this weekend for us: win and we’re in,” said Bowyer, who owns two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 26 races at Phoenix. “We’re obviously going to do our best. Phoenix has been good to us in the past. Now, we just need her to be great to us.”

 

The mile-oval in the desert is SHR’s best track, with six victories and 17 top-five finishes in 58 starts. Kevin Harvick owns five of SHR’s six victories, including a win in this season’s April race. Bowyer had a good run of his own that day, ending with a sixth-place finish.

 

It will be a different-looking Phoenix facility when the Cup Series begins practice Friday. As part of its $178 million project, the track’s start-finish line has been moved from the middle of what was the frontstretch to what was turn two – now turn four. The change was made because the track added 45,000 grandstand seats to that area of the track as part of its huge renovation project. Restarts and the race finish will be in front of the majority of fans attending the event.

 

“I’m telling you I think moving the start-finish line is going to be a bigger deal than anyone thinks,” Bowyer said. “I’ve raced at a lot of racetracks all over the country and I have never seen a start-finish line right out of the corner. It’s very, very unique and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

 

Bowyer said the change could make an impact during the race.

 

“I think where you will see that really play out is on restarts and finishes,” he said. “How it comes down to that last-lap pass for a position to maybe put yourself in the playoffs or something – you kind of just have to make it out of that corner. You just have to kind of have forward momentum to make it across the line. That, in my opinion, can bring on some wild, wild things, I think, over the next few years there.”

 

For the fans, these changes bring new and improved access to the garage. The renovations also include new restaurants, plus a state-of-the-art facility inside the gates that includes two separate entertainment venues.

 

“I can’t wait to get to Phoenix – it’s a fun racetrack, fun atmosphere and fun fan base,” Bowyer said. “Everything about Phoenix is awesome. By the way, she’s a new Phoenix. The start-finish line has moved. So are the garages, plus everything else that is being done. I’ve seen some pictures, but I can’t wait to get out there and see what it looks like.”

 

For the second time in 2018, Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Fusion will carry the paint scheme of ITsavvy (pronounced I-T-savvy). The Addison, Illinois-based company is one of the fastest-growing resources for integrated IT products and technology solutions in the United States. ITsavvy has catapulted rapidly from a Midwest startup to a national leader in IT products and solutions.

 

Founded in 2004 by Mike Theriault and Chris Kurpeikis, ITsavvy has been consistently recognized as one of the fastest-growing businesses of its type. ITsavvy is a single-source, end-to-end IT partner. The company combines a comprehensive, value-added reseller business of more than a million computer, hardware and software products with an industry-leading advanced solutions group. ITsavvy has access to $8 billion in daily inventory in 46 distribution centers around the country with the ability to ship in-stock items the same day they are ordered.

 

Bowyer arrives at Phoenix eighth in the playoff standings, 73 points behind the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 after finishing 26th Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Bowyer qualified second, but opening-lap contact with Denny Hamlin forced Bowyer to pit road for repairs, dropping him two laps behind the leaders that he could never regain.

Points no longer matter to Bowyer.

 

Only a victory guarantees his place in the title battle.

 

“We’re going to try like hell,” he said.

Clint Bowyer’s strategy is about as clear-cut as it gets this weekend at ISM Raceway near Phoenix when he competes in the next-to-last Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2018 season.

 

If the No. 14 ITsavvy Ford driver wins Sunday, he advances to the Championship 4 round next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway to compete in the four-way, winner-take-all title race. Anything less this weekend at Phoenix sends Bowyer to Homestead battling for a finish of fifth to eighth in the final point standings.

 

It’s going to take a spectacular effort for the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver to advance Sunday, but Phoenix is a pretty good place for Bowyer and his SHR organization.

 

“It’s a pretty simple strategy this weekend for us: win and we’re in,” said Bowyer, who owns two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 26 races at Phoenix. “We’re obviously going to do our best. Phoenix has been good to us in the past. Now, we just need her to be great to us.”

 

The mile-oval in the desert is SHR’s best track, with six victories and 17 top-five finishes in 58 starts. Kevin Harvick owns five of SHR’s six victories, including a win in this season’s April race. Bowyer had a good run of his own that day, ending with a sixth-place finish.

 

It will be a different-looking Phoenix facility when the Cup Series begins practice Friday. As part of its $178 million project, the track’s start-finish line has been moved from the middle of what was the frontstretch to what was turn two – now turn four. The change was made because the track added 45,000 grandstand seats to that area of the track as part of its huge renovation project. Restarts and the race finish will be in front of the majority of fans attending the event.

 

“I’m telling you I think moving the start-finish line is going to be a bigger deal than anyone thinks,” Bowyer said. “I’ve raced at a lot of racetracks all over the country and I have never seen a start-finish line right out of the corner. It’s very, very unique and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

 

Bowyer said the change could make an impact during the race.

 

“I think where you will see that really play out is on restarts and finishes,” he said. “How it comes down to that last-lap pass for a position to maybe put yourself in the playoffs or something – you kind of just have to make it out of that corner. You just have to kind of have forward momentum to make it across the line. That, in my opinion, can bring on some wild, wild things, I think, over the next few years there.”

 

For the fans, these changes bring new and improved access to the garage. The renovations also include new restaurants, plus a state-of-the-art facility inside the gates that includes two separate entertainment venues.

 

“I can’t wait to get to Phoenix – it’s a fun racetrack, fun atmosphere and fun fan base,” Bowyer said. “Everything about Phoenix is awesome. By the way, she’s a new Phoenix. The start-finish line has moved. So are the garages, plus everything else that is being done. I’ve seen some pictures, but I can’t wait to get out there and see what it looks like.”

 

For the second time in 2018, Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Fusion will carry the paint scheme of ITsavvy (pronounced I-T-savvy). The Addison, Illinois-based company is one of the fastest-growing resources for integrated IT products and technology solutions in the United States. ITsavvy has catapulted rapidly from a Midwest startup to a national leader in IT products and solutions.

 

Founded in 2004 by Mike Theriault and Chris Kurpeikis, ITsavvy has been consistently recognized as one of the fastest-growing businesses of its type. ITsavvy is a single-source, end-to-end IT partner. The company combines a comprehensive, value-added reseller business of more than a million computer, hardware and software products with an industry-leading advanced solutions group. ITsavvy has access to $8 billion in daily inventory in 46 distribution centers around the country with the ability to ship in-stock items the same day they are ordered.

 

Bowyer arrives at Phoenix eighth in the playoff standings, 73 points behind the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 after finishing 26th Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Bowyer qualified second, but opening-lap contact with Denny Hamlin forced Bowyer to pit road for repairs, dropping him two laps behind the leaders that he could never regain.

Points no longer matter to Bowyer.

 

Only a victory guarantees his place in the title battle.

 

“We’re going to try like hell,” he said.

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Does it mean anything to have all four SHR Fords in the Round of 8?

“Yeah, it means something to all of us and everyone involved at Stewart-Haas Racing. That army of people who are back at the shop working tirelessly day in and day out. Those people – it is unbelievable the people who are in the Stewart-Haas camp. I am not saying other teams are not racers, but I have been with about all of them now and I have never seen a group of just sheer racers. What I mean by that is, when you have down time, you see them with their kids racing Late Models or a dirt car somewhere, or they are racing on their weekends. Some of our shop guys – it’s amazing how many true die-hard, hardcore racers there are at SHR. For me, I think that speaks volumes about our performance. When we do get behind, if we do, they close the gap in a short amount of time.

 

“Their attention to detail and willingness to work all across the board, everybody involved pushes one another to be better. I think we have closed the gap drastically from last year to this year. It was my first year last year when we really only had one car running good each week. We could have a good run and would back it up with a couple of bad ones. We were spraying it all over the place. This year, we are there with all four cars every week.”

 

Is there pressure in the playoffs?

“The pressure this time of year is intense. In any weekend, there is always pressure but, inside these playoffs, it increases. It’s the drivers, the teams you are competing against. At this time of year you are going against the best of the best. But, we all feed off that. You have to be able to eat that up and enjoy that and somehow make peace with it because it’s there. There’s no getting around the pressure side of that. You have to be able to perform at your best within that pressure.”

 

What does it take to be a NASCAR champion?

“To be a NASCAR champion, you have to have the total package and that’s the team and driver and everyone in the organization, as well as the folks you work with at Ford Performance and Roush-Yates Engines. You’ve got to be the total package if you want to beat these guys in the Cup Series. We have all the pieces of the puzzle. Now we just have to put them together.”

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Does it mean anything to have all four SHR Fords in the Round of 8?

“Yeah, it means something to all of us and everyone involved at Stewart-Haas Racing. That army of people who are back at the shop working tirelessly day in and day out. Those people – it is unbelievable the people who are in the Stewart-Haas camp. I am not saying other teams are not racers, but I have been with about all of them now and I have never seen a group of just sheer racers. What I mean by that is, when you have down time, you see them with their kids racing Late Models or a dirt car somewhere, or they are racing on their weekends. Some of our shop guys – it’s amazing how many true die-hard, hardcore racers there are at SHR. For me, I think that speaks volumes about our performance. When we do get behind, if we do, they close the gap in a short amount of time.

 

“Their attention to detail and willingness to work all across the board, everybody involved pushes one another to be better. I think we have closed the gap drastically from last year to this year. It was my first year last year when we really only had one car running good each week. We could have a good run and would back it up with a couple of bad ones. We were spraying it all over the place. This year, we are there with all four cars every week.”

 

Is there pressure in the playoffs?

“The pressure this time of year is intense. In any weekend, there is always pressure but, inside these playoffs, it increases. It’s the drivers, the teams you are competing against. At this time of year you are going against the best of the best. But, we all feed off that. You have to be able to eat that up and enjoy that and somehow make peace with it because it’s there. There’s no getting around the pressure side of that. You have to be able to perform at your best within that pressure.”

 

What does it take to be a NASCAR champion?

“To be a NASCAR champion, you have to have the total package and that’s the team and driver and everyone in the organization, as well as the folks you work with at Ford Performance and Roush-Yates Engines. You’ve got to be the total package if you want to beat these guys in the Cup Series. We have all the pieces of the puzzle. Now we just have to put them together.”

Notes of Interest:
  • Bowyer owns career totals of 10 wins, two poles, 73 top-five finishes, 195 top-10s and 2,850 laps led in 466 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 51 points-paying victories and 43 poles since its inception in 2009. It also owns three non-points victories in the Cup Series and three 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 eight times in 2018, while Bowyer owns two victories and Aric Almirola and Busch one each this season. All four SHR drivers have won races in 2018 and advanced to the Round of 8 of the Cup Series playoffs.
  • Bowyer has led 490 laps in 2018. That surpasses a career best of 400 set in 201
  • At Phoenix, SHR owns six victories, 17 top-five finishes and 27 top-10s in 58 starts. The six victories are the most for SHR at any track.
  • Bowyer at Phoenix in March: Bowyer started 19th and moved to 11th in the opening stage of the race despite reporting his car was a little too loose. Contact with another car on lap 123 slowed his progress and he finished Stage 2 in 10th. Since he pitted in the closing laps of the previous stage, Bowyer remained on the track during the stage break and moved up to fourth for the start of the final stage. He held his position through pit cycle and finished the race sixth. It was the first time SHR placed all four of its drivers in the top-10 in a single race.
  • 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 Top-Three Finishes at SHR (2017-2018):
    • Wins
      • Michigan International Speedway (June 10, 2018)
      • Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (March 26, 2018)
    • 2nd place: 
      • Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Oct. 15,2018)
      • 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: 
      • Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Sept. 30, 2018)
      • 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 
    • Pocono (Pa.) Raceway Stage 2 (July 30, 2017)
    • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Stage 1 (Sept. 10, 2018)
  • 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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