Bowyer Brings Momentum to Texas
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on April 7, 2017 | 12:15 P.M. EST
Yesterday, Clint Bowyer took part in Texas Motor Speedway's FANDAGO event with team owner Tony Stewart. (Photo: Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer’s first season at Stewart-Haas Racing has gotten off to a great beginning.
Bowyer took over the ride at SHR vacated by the retired Tony Stewart and through the first six races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has returned to the competitiveness he was missing last year as a member of the HScott Motorsports team.
Bowyer enters Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway eighth in the series point standings with a top-five and three top-10 finishes to his credit. After what he endured last season, it’s a welcomed change.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Bowyer said Friday at TMS when asked if things have gone as well as he’d hoped at SHR. “You are going to struggle. There is nothing in this sport at this level that comes easy. It doesn’t matter the race track or circumstances, it is always hard because there is always the next guy working every bit as hard to accomplish the same goal. That being said, I knew it would be a positive move.”
He’s always given credit to Stewart for bringing him to the organization to drive the No. 14 car, but Bowyer also has great admiration and thanks for what teammate Kevin Harvick has provided.
“I am very well aware of Kevin, we are good friends and have done a lot of things off the race track together,” Bowyer explained. “ I was very happy to get back working with him because everything I have learned in this sport of racing and race cars was always in his seat, with his pedals, where his steering wheel was. Kevin always had it and I didn’t know any better. I had never drove one before. Everything I did when I learned how to drive these cars was how Kevin did it.
“When I came to Stewart-Haas they asked what I want to do with my pedals and seat and I said, ‘Hell, I don’t know, ask Kevin.’ It has been that way my whole career.”
Like everyone in Texas this week, Bowyer is not quite sure what to expect from a race track that underwent a massive repaving and reconfiguration project in the off-season. Practices and qualifying leading up to Sunday’s race will be very important, but even then Bowyer says the 500-miles on deck will bring with it a number of unknowns.
"I think that the pavement, the entrance to turn one feels quite a bit different just driving around in a pace car. The exit to two is probably the biggest change. It seems like as far as the bottom goes down into the apron and how they have extended that, you feel that a lot more off of two. We used to run out of real estate in a big way. “Now it feels like you have room a little more as you are exiting and even earlier than you did before,” he said. “It is hard to tell when you are going around in a pace car 100 mph compared to 200 in a Cup car, business picks up in a big way. What you may have thought is the right way around maybe isn’t. I do know they laid down some rubber with the rollers and the track is really clean down on the bottom and seems like the preferred groove right now.
“We will see if that widens out. When you get cars out there going that much faster than a passenger car, who knows where the happy spot is going to be in that race track.”