Clint Bowyer has one more race before trading his steering wheel for a microphone.
Sunday’s Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway will bring down the curtain on Bowyer’s NASCAR career as he gets ready to move into the world of broadcasting as a member of the FOX television booth next season. When the checkered flag flies Sunday it will literally bookend Bowyer’s NASCAR tenure of 541 career Cup starts that began on April 23, 2005.
"It’s funny, the way the schedule has worked out, Phoenix will be the place of my first and last start," Bowyer said. "It’s come full circle and it’s been an amazing run with everything in between.
"Things always change and there’s a new bunch of kids who will come in and take up our places. "We’ve had a great run, now it’s time to turn it over to someone else."
That someone else will be Chase Briscoe, who graduates from the Xfinity Series to take the wheel of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Cup ride in 2021. Bowyer had originally planned to come back to that ride next season until the FOX deal came together.
"Hell no. I honestly was hoping to make a living racing," Bowyer joked when asked if he had planned to jump into a full-time broadcasting role this soon. "Was I ready? I was getting ready. I was getting close to being ready.
"Was I ready after this pandemic and this COVID year of no fans and a weird way to go out? No, and I don’t think probably Jimmie Johnson was, either, but was I looking for that what’s next moment or opportunity? And that answer is absolutely yes. When FOX – and let’s go back to the pandemic – there are always opportunities and crazy things and it’s usually those wild and crazy things in life that open that opportunity. This pandemic led to that opportunity to get in the studio with Jeff and Mike and have a ton of fun doing those iRacing races that really kind of kept us on the map with our sport and kept our sponsors propped up, kept the business moving, kept it going around in circles."
Bowyer spent his NASCAR time going mostly in circles as well as some road course races in the mix to the tune of 10 career Cup wins with three different organizations. His first Cup win came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the 2007 fall race and his most recent was at Michigan in June 2018. Bowyer also won eight races in the Xfinity Series, including the championship in 2008 while driving for Richard Childress Racing. With three Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series wins, Bowyer is currently one of 34 drivers to win in all three NASCAR national series.
Not too bad a resume for a guy who cut his teeth racing on the short tracks of his native Midwest and dreamt of one day racing at NASCAR’s highest level.
"I don’t regret anything," Bowyer said. "I can promise you this I’ve probably had more fun than about anybody out there these last 16 years, probably too much fun sometimes, but would I take anything back or change anything? Absolutely not.
"I mean, we got close once — finished second and I think fifth — had good runs within the playoffs and things like that. Did I win as many races I would have liked? No, but I had wonderful opportunities to and raced for a lot of good organizations. I won races for all three manufacturers. That’s something that was super cool. I’ve done a lot. I’m proud of what I’ve done and I’m satisfied, for sure. There’s no question about it."
While his new job with FOX will keep Bowyer busy he has not ruled out putting on his helmet a time or two and hasn’t totally given up the idea of driving a racecar.
"I’m definitely open for anything," he said. "Hey, you can’t just shut off being a race car driver. Are there tracks that I wish I never see again? Yes, but I’m probably gonna see them anyway. I’m gonna be there calling the races, but certainly there are some tracks that I’m really, really gonna miss. Those road courses, believe it or not, are right up there. The short tracks and things like that, those are tracks that I felt like my talent and my experience that I’ve learned over the years were really good at some of those tracks.
"I think that if an opportunity comes down the line and somebody was to be out or something like that, I would love to fill in if I could do a good job, and I know I could at some of those tracks, so who knows? I think we’re just gonna have to see how it all goes and if an opportunity comes to the table, maybe I’ll take it."