If there’s anyone in NASCAR who lives life by the same effort as he races, it’s likely Clint Bowyer of Emporia, KS. Undoubtedly, the driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion gives it 110 percent on the track as he does away from it.
First and foremost, Bowyer speaks his mind while doing so in jocular fashion. Certainly, his soundbites are the stuff of legends, perhaps making him a popular driver to listen to on scanners.
However, the 39-year-old grizzled veteran does most of his talking with his No. 14 Ford. In this case, he’s usually mixing it up with the leaders, either calculating his next move or immediately seizing the opportunity. Just don’t expect him to go at ludicrous speed.
Indeed, one could say that Bowyer’s unmistakable black and red ride makes a good case as a true championship contender. Presently, he’s logged two wins, six top-fives, and 11 top-10’s after 24 races. Most importantly, he snapped a winless streak that dated back to the fall race at Charlotte on October 13, 2012.
Sure, in theory, Bowyer could take it easy in these final two regular season races before dropping the hammer at Las Vegas. On the contrary, this driver does not race on cruise control. Instead, he’s going to give it all he’s got, which is fitting for this Stewart-Haas Racing talent.
Along the same lines, Bowyer showed raw emotion and excitement with his family when he won at Martinsville and Michigan earlier this year. To say the least, he’s appreciative of his successes and his opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Naturally, Bowyer doesn’t hold back in his latest interview or conversation with The Podium Finish. Recently, I caught up with the popular racer to talk over a wide variety of topics. Anything less than genuinely candid and witty Clint Bowyer would be uncivilized.
As Elwood Blues once said, “No matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive. There’re still some things that makes us all the same.” With that in mind, let’s do it to it and get “In the Driver’s Seat with Clint Bowyer” here on TPF!
Rob Tiongson : It’s been a season of rejuvenation for you and your No. 14 team with wins at Martinsville and here at MIS in June. Given that you are the most recent winner here, how confident do you feel about your chances to battle for this year’s title, and racing here at Michigan?
Clint Bowyer : Well, obviously, the third win is goal number one, you know what I mean? We need to get some more stage points and some more playoff points to solidify ourselves. But we’ve just gotta stick to doing what we’re doing.
We rolled into this track and obviously, we won last time. But we’ve unloaded really fast again. It’s important to qualify good and keep that thing up front. I’m looking forward to it. We’ve unloaded fast. Practice went good.
Like I said, qualifying is so important here. It’s so easy to overdrive your corner. And in the same breath, it’s easy to underdrive it. So, it’s very, very tricky to hit that perfect lap and the difference there between a good lap and a horrible lap is very minute.
Tiongson : Staying along this topic, you’ve persevered through trying times in the past five years before your recent success. Having won twice this year, does it make sweeter knowing that you’ve still got it despite some tough years?
Bowyer : Yea, absolutely! I didn’t want to go down like that. It was just very frustrating to go through a few years with one letdown after another. It’s super cool to be in the situation I’m in and the organization I’m at, and the lineup of teammates that I have. I mean, it’s just a perfect world right now and I’m having the time of my life doing it.
Tiongson : How special has it been for you to share your experiences in your career with your family, especially with your children?
Bowyer : That’s the number one thing that’s changed from what was normal with running good. I’ve had a family since then. This makes it even that much more special to be able to be sharing all the success, good runs, and wins with your family alongside.
Tiongson : Racing in the Cup series can be a grind given the number of races and level of competition. How do you find that balance between being in racer’s mode and going back to yourself when the race weekend is over?
Bowyer : That’s the hardest part about our season. It is so long and grueling and it’s so hard to find a good balance there. And I’ll be the first one to admit, right now, this late summer stretch right here – it’s hard.
You’re just kind of waiting in the wings, waiting on something to happen, and that something is the playoffs. As you start getting closer to the playoffs, you start intensifying and getting more excited.
As soon as they drop that flag in the first race of the playoffs, man, it’s time to elevate your game, throw it all out there, and go for it. For me, that rejuvenates me at a tough time in the season, so I’m looking forward to it.
Tiongson : Over the years, we’ve seen Lionel Racing reproduce your rides with various replica cars. Do you collect some of these cars and does it take you aback seeing some of your memorable cars as die-cast cars?
Bowyer : I’ll never forget the first time that I walked through the grandstand at Lakeside. I looked over and a guy who bought my t-shirt the week before had it on. That always means something to you and you have pride in that. You think about that through the good times and bad times, or what their thinking, or if you’re doing a good job for them, or living up to their expectations. Of course, you do.
Tiongson : One of the unique traits about you that I believe makes you appealing is your candor and level of accessibility to most fans. What would you say makes you comfortable to speak your mind to fans and to those of us covering this sport?
Bowyer : I just grew up that way. I grew up around a lot of people. When I was towing cars and helping people, I guess that work ethic and social life was always a part of my life, being around my dad and being in and out of the coffee shops, and always around adults, and always around probably uncomfortable indifferent situations.
Yea, sometimes, it gets to me and bothers me a little bit, one way or the other. But, man, with the time that I’m having right now, I think that’s the thing about me. I don’t hide emotions or things very well. When I’m having a good time, it comes across and you can see it easily.
Tiongson : Ford recently revealed the new Mustang set to replace the Fusion next year. How excited are you to drive this iconic car in 2019 and would you say it’ll revitalize that passion for cars to newer fans?
Bowyer : Well, I grew up a car guy, going in and out of car shows, around hot rods, and drag racing, all forms of different racing. For me, it was always weird driving a Fusion in a premier level of motorsports. It’s neat to have the Mustang.
I think it’s important to have the Mustang as it’s their hot rod. It’s Ford’s muscle car. Certainly, what we do needs a lot of muscle out in the racetrack. That thing looks like a beast. I’m looking forward to getting it on the racetrack and racing that Mustang, for sure.
Tiongson : Given the fact you’ve battled against and now drive for Tony Stewart, what’s perhaps your more lighthearted moment with him, be it at the track or away from it?
Bowyer : I think that’s a good question. We don’t have many serious moments, if ever. All of our moments have been lighthearted since we started racing each other 15 years ago when I came into the sport. It’s certainly that way.
I picked him up at Knoxville and flew for about an hour and a half to Michigan, laughing and kind of just shooting the sh*t. (laughs) We really weren’t talking about anything in particular about business or anything else. It’s always about our passion, which is dirt racing, and different forms of motorsports. And that’s what we always talk about and that’s what we were talking about coming here.
Tiongson : What’s perhaps one movie, be it a classic or recent film, that you can quote nearly word for word like a one-man show?
Bowyer : Probably the best one-liner movie, there’s been a bunch of them, but anything from the Blues Brothers…anybody that doesn’t know the Blues Brothers doesn’t really know me, and I don’t have a lot in common with them.
So, that’s the first one that you’ve gotta know. There’s a bunch of them. There’s been a lot of one-liner movies over the years, but I’m sticking with Blues Brothers.
Tiongson : (chuckles) How about Spaceballs?
Bowyer: I think it was too stupid! (laughs) Funny, but just a little too stupid, but there were some good ones in that one too.
Tiongson : (chuckles) Fair enough!
Special thanks to Clint Bowyer and Drew Brown of True Speed Communications for making this opportunity possible at Michigan! For more information on Clint, “Follow” him on Twitter, “Like” his Facebook page, and “Visit” his official website now!