Clint Bowyer re­turns to Kansas with ride ca­pa­ble of win­ning

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

The last few years, Clint Bowyer showed up at Kansas Speedway twice each sea­son and du­ti­fully han­dled ev­ery in­ter­view re­quest, spon­sor­ship event and pro­mo­tional op­por­tu­nity pushed his way.

He grew up in Wi­chita. It’s his home track.

He felt a sense of obli­ga­tion, even when he was run­ning at the back of the pack.

The de­mands on Bowyer’s time have only in­creased this week at Kansas, now that he’s back at the front. His fruit­less one-year stopover with tiny HS­cott Mo­tor­sports has segued into his new full­time ride with Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing, and he char­ac­ter­ized the change in teams this way: “When I walked out of one build­ing and got into the other one, it was a fun time. Trust me.’’

“It was overnight,’’ Bowyer said. “I woke up one morn­ing as a Ste­wart-Haas em­ployee.’’

The last cou­ple years were akin to a night­mare.

He was un­com­pet­i­tive dur­ing the fi­nal days of Michael Wal­trip Rac­ing, then signed on to drive for Harry Scott last sea­son. He wound up lead­ing just three laps, fin­ished in the top 10 three times and never made the top five. His av­er­age fin­ish of 23.6 was by far the worst of his ca­reer.

“Yeah, last year sucked,’’ Bowyer said. “It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t fun for any­body, es­pe­cially me. The good news is the bus picked us up and we jumped on the fun bus clear back in Day­tona.’’

The div­i­dends of driv­ing for one of the sport’s es­tab­lished mul­ticar teams paid off there, when Bowyer started sixth and had a strong car be­fore crash­ing out. He’s com­pleted ev­ery lap since then and led 10 last week at Tal­ladega, the first time he’s had Tony Ste­wart’s old No. 14 in front.

Along the way, Bowyer put to­gether a four-race stretch where he fin­ished third at Cal­i­for­nia, sev­enth at Martinsville, just out­side the top 10 at Texas and sec­ond at Bris­tol.

That leaves Bowyer ninth in points head­ing into Satur­day night’s race.

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