Bowyer likes riding with Stewart-Haas
Clint Bowyer is in his happy place.
He looks around and sees a racing family and not a vagabond cluster of people who, despite the best intentions, could never make things work.
Bowyer did an apprenticeship of sorts in 2016 at HScott Motorsports, a yearlong pit stop as he waited for a far more competitive ride. He already was signed to replace Tony Stewart in 2017 at Stewart-Haas Racing, and the interim gig was good to keep him in the game.
But not in the game competitively, with a team that just doesn’t have the resources to challenge NASCAR’s handful of super teams. Predictably, Bowyer finished 27th in points.
His move to Stewart-Haas has reunited Bowyer with Stewart. They’ve been friends for a long while and share an affinity for short-track racing, among other pursuits.
Stewart usually sits on the pit box when Bowyer races. He’s not playing favorites among an elite stable that includes Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch and a struggling tag-along in Danica Patrick.
But it’s a natural fit for Bowyer because the No. 14 was Stewart’s ride. The change has been good for Stewart too as he transitions to team owner full time in 2017.
“It’s everything you were hoping for and dreamed it could be,” Bowyer said last week at a promotional event in Daytona Beach for the Coke Zero 400. “He’s good. It really surprised me. Our relationship has always been fun and lighthearted but when he stepped up and put me on that car that meant a lot to me.”
And Bowyer has reciprocated, doing his thing as a 12-year Cup veteran. Although he has yet to win a race this season, he has been strong and steady, currently 10th in points, with two topfive finishes and five top 10s.
Bowyer, 38, has never won a Cup title and has not won in a Cup car dating to 2012, but he’s the quintessential wheelman, a guy you can always count on to give you a competitive ride no matter the configuration of the track. He finished 17th at Pocono last weekend.
“I think that reality is there,” Bowyer said when asked if reality met expectations. “We’re running exactly how we hoped we would run. We’ve had our chances and are going to have more chances.”
There’s no sugarcoating the down-in-the-dumpster ride of 2016. There was only so much Bowyer could do, and it was never going to be enough.
“The last year and a half has been miserable,” he said during Speedweeks in Daytona. “That isn’t how I want my kid to remember me. He’s 21⁄2 years old now and I want to be able for him to see me in victory lane and for him to be in victory lane, and when it’s all said and done you look over when you’re 50-some years old that there’s a picture of your whole family in victory lane. That’s what I race for.”
It’s an image that sticks with Bowyer every time he goes out for a ride with his competitive team.
Mommies and daddies, if you want to get your kids fixated on becoming “Generation Next” NASCAR fans, take them to a movie. Specifically, Pixar’s “Cars 3,” which opens Friday in theaters nationwide.
Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez are among the voices behind the animated characters. That is very new-school and inclusive. Check out the Pixar bio for Wallace’s character:
“Next-gen stock car racer Bubba Wheelhouse Jr. is a fast and tenacious young racer who knows how to win. A champion for diversity, Wheelhouse believes that all race cars deserve a chance on the track.”
But there’s something in it for the old-school types. Darrell Cartrip, a veteran PistonCup announcer, features the voice of NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip.
“For the first ‘Cars,’ we didn’t have much of a [formal] relationship with them,” Jay Ward, Pixar’s creative director and car specialist, said in a recent interview. “They were much more receptive this time.”
CLINT BOWYER calls his Stewart-Haas gig “everything you were hoping for and dreamed it could be.”