Michael Waltrip Racing press release
CORNELIUS, N.C. — Before 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer makes his seventh appearance in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, he’ll run in the second of the two 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday that sets the 43-car starting grid.
With the return of pack racing and the number of accidents in last weekend’s Bud Shootout, the dilemma for Bowyer, and many drivers, is whether to risk damaging his car in the qualifying race to gain a better starting position for Sunday’s 500. Bowyer advocates being cautiously aggressive on Thursday.
BOWYER ON HOW CONSERVATIVE WILL YOU BE WITH THE CAR IN THE DUELS? “Obviously, this is the best of the 5-hour ENERGY Toyotas we have - that’s why we brought it for the Daytona 500. I’m not going to put it in any danger on Thursday. That said, I know getting out there under these conditions is pretty much putting it in danger. My plan is to just try to keep it clean and keep the fenders on it. You have to race. You owe it to your sponsors -- plus the Daytona 500 is a big race for us and we need to get the best starting spot we can. But, you don’t want to tear your car up either.”
ON WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500: “It doesn’t get any bigger than winning the Daytona 500! That’s the dream. That’s the goal. I’ve tried to win it six times now and I’m going to do everything I can again this weekend to put myself in position to get to victory lane. I’ve been so close now a couple times and something always seems to slip away at the very last second. I can tell you one thing - if I do win the Daytona 500 it’ll be the biggest celebration you’ve ever seen.”
ADDITIONAL NOTES OF INTEREST
· Budweiser Shootout: Bowyer started 17th and finished eighth in the season-opening Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Bowyer spun early in the race, but rallied late to finish in the top-10.
· Bowyer at Daytona: Bowyer will make his 13th career NSCS Daytona start on Sunday. In 12 previous Daytona starts, he has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. He started a career-best third in July 2011 where he also recorded his lone DNF. Bowyer has an average starting position of 18th and finish of 15th.
· Bowyer in The Great American Race: Bowyer has raced in every Daytona 500 since 2006—all with Richard Childress Racing. Bowyer will make his regular season race debut with Michael Waltrip Racing and new sponsor 5-hour ENERGY on Feb. 26 in the Daytona 500. In Bowyer’s previous six starts in The Great American Race he has a best finish of fourth, two top-five and three top-10 finishes. He started the 2011 Daytona 500 in sixth position - a career best for the season opener. His average starting position is 19th and finishing position is 12th. Bowyer has led more than 30 laps in each of the last two Daytona 500s (37 laps in 2010, 31 laps in 2011) and has led laps in three of his last four.
· Testing, Testing: Bowyer kicked off his tenure with Michael Waltrip Racing at a three-day test at Walt Disney World Speedway in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Dec. 13-15, 2011. Bowyer also tested at New Smyrna, Fla. on Jan. 10. and took part in NASCAR’s Preseason Thunder test at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 12-14. The No. 15 team participated in the Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 7-8.