Clint Bowyer has been in a downward trend over the last few weeks a direction he hopes to end in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Bowyer comes to Kentucky after a rough day last week in Daytona when he was involved in an accident after making contact with Austin Dillon battling for the lead. The incident triggered what ended up to be a 17-car accident and left Bowyer with 34th-place finish.
It was the third time in the last four races Bowyer ended up 30th or worst, a stretch that has dropped him to 15th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings just one point ahead of Ryan Newman for the final playoff berth.
Bowyer and his Stewart-Haas Racing team remains winless so far in 2019 and head to Kentucky, a track where the organization has never won in the Cup Series. Bowyer’s goal is to erase both deficits.
“We’d like to check that box off our list,” Bowyer said. “That’s a significant accomplishment. As competitive as this series is, to have won at every track is pretty rare. That’s a testament to the quality of work done back at our shop and the drivers who’ve driven these cars over the years.”
Bowyer will have to up his performance at Kentucky so far in his career to accomplish the goal of finding Victory Lane. He has just one top-five finish in eight Cup starts at the 1.5-mile track.
“Kentucky is a very tricky track,” Bowyer said. “It’s very fast. It’s very unique in the sense that both ends of the track are very different. The entrance to turn three is what sticks out to me when you think of Kentucky. That turn is so deceiving, and it entices you to drive in way too deep. That’s because it’s so flat that the car wants to get really loose getting in there.
“All of a sudden you’ve got to really slow it down, and the exit opens up a lot into that dogleg. You carry a tremendous amount of speed through turns one and two, which is what gets you into trouble going into turn three.”
What has compounded the difficulty of Kentucky for many drivers including Bowyer is the track’s repave and reconfiguration in 2016. It continues to be a work in progress but one Bowyer believes will improve as time rolls on.
“The brutal honesty of a repave is, for whatever reason, the first race after the repave is always the worst race,” Bowyer said.
“It gets better each race afterward. The grip level is so high and you are going so fast, it’s a challenge to create side-by-side racing with a lot of passes. The silver lining is it’s only going to get better from now on.”