CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How did it feel to win at Sonoma last week? "It was a really big win for us -- for myself personally, on a road course like that out in Sonoma was really, really special. I'm just excited for everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), everybody behind me -- Toyota, 5-hour ENERGY, Brian Pattie (crew chief), everybody on this crew. That was a huge, huge day for us. A huge confidence-booster, momentum- builder going into this season. Just going into this season so many unknowns. And to be able to go out there and get our first win of the season together as a group is just huge."
How was the Tuesday grand opening event for the community building you built in Emporia (Kansas)? "Just what a perfect time to have our grand opening over at the community building we built in Emporia (Kansas), my hometown. Blake (Shelton) was on schedule, but I was just hoping that I could win a race and have something to celebrate. It was just icing on the cake to be able to go back there and have them there Tuesday. Put on a hell of a show like he always does, and really has a good time, really gets the fans and the crowd charged up and excited. It's just a one-man show right there. A guitar and a microphone is all he had, and it's amazing when those guys -- the cream of the crop -- are able to do that. You really get a sense of how good they are as an artist because they don't have all that background noise and band behind them -- it's just them up there. Just really thankful he came and did that -- help me out with our grand opening of the building. It went off in a big way. It was a big celebration and a party and hopefully we can make that an annual thing for our charity building and be able to have some sort of benefit concert every year."
What is the challenge for a driver to stay focused when moving to a different team in the future? "Well, it's really hard and for us it was kind of catastrophic to be honest with you. I mean it was -- it's hard to keep everybody going. Everbody sees the end of the road and I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is near. For me, it was very hard to keep that momentum going. Everybody was kind of wanting to give up on the season and get it over with. But, we weren't in the Chase contention type of thing like Matt (Kenseth) is. I'm telling you, Matt's a champion and they'll see this thing through the end. They'll be a team that's competing for the championship. That would be just pretty ironic to have a guy that's leaving race for a championship. That would make everybody -- that would make you guys work. That would be a good story for you guys."
Do you have and advice for drivers changing teams? "Just to focus on racing. That's the only thing you can truly focus on. The dominos, like you said, they're going to fall -- how they fall. But, the biggest thing that can interrupt or detour one's thinking or something is if your performance falls off on the race track. You've got to keep that first and foremost. Keep your name out there. Do the best job you can on the race track. If you do that, nine times out of 10, the rest will take care of itself. This is very difficult times. What I went through last year was so nerve-wracking -- it's very difficult to be able to go through that not knowing what the future holds for you. But, it's not always doom and gloom. Look where I landed. I couldn't be happier now, looking back at everything and what happened -- it couldn't have been a better situation for me."
Is it instinct to avoid the dirt on road courses? "Well, it's instinct to stay out of the dirt at one of those road courses, trust me. That's the goal, but it's very, very hard to achieve that goal for me. But, that being said, I've always been able to go to Sonoma and run well. I've never been able to break into that top-three or four group -- I guess you have to say top-three -- but never been able to break out and lead laps, I guess I should say. We just had a great race car all weekend long. Had a good feeling about it -- good vibe about the whole weekend and it was time. You don't get that opportunity very often to have a car like that. Kurt (Busch) put so much pressure on me -- it was very difficult to hold your composure and know where he was strong and then try to guard that, try to better yourself through those areas. That's the biggest thing -- you go out there and race every lap, every corner 100 per cent. That's the best you can do and sometimes when you try to pick it up and do more than what you're capable of doing you get yourself in trouble and that's what I didn't want to do to. I was just trying to focus on making sure that I hit my marks and ran my race at my speed and not slip up and make a mistake and hand it to him. If he was going to pass me, I was going to make him earn it."
Would you gamble for second win to secure a wild card berth for the Chase? "You don't take a gamble. If it's there you take it, but you can't take a gamble -- you can't afford to. Where we're at, we can race our way into this thing -- we're a few points from fifth-place for crying out loud. You can't look back and try to cover yourself for the 12th spot in the situation we're in. If we are, we'll find ourselves in 12th trying to find a win to get ourselves in. We've just got to stay focused on what we're doing, keep these solid finishes coming and working together. If we do that, we won't have to worry about that. Certainly, it's going to take two races to get yourself in -- there's guys on the outside that already -- (Brad) Keselowski has got two. He's right there on the border. (Kasey) Kahne has got one. He's certainly capable of getting another one any time, so there's guys out there that are looming that are definitely capable of winning races and getting themselves a wild card spot."
Do you enjoy racing at New Hampshire? "New Hampshire is one of my favorite race tracks. We've run well there. When you got to certain race tracks as a racer, there's just certain places that you take to better than others. That's certainly been one of the places for me. We've probably should have won a lot more races than just two Cup races there. I mean, we've dominated a few Truck races and some Nationwide races, but just never could get everything to fall your way. That being said, it's hard to get things to go your way 100 per cent -- have all the stars line up. You can have dominant race cars, as we did last week in Sonoma, and almost got it taken from us there. Another prime example of how hard it is to win these races, but it raises everybody's expectations up. There's just a different level to perform to at that place and it's all across the board. It's from the media to the engine guys to the chassis guys to the sponsors. Everybody just steps up in a big way for that race to make that what it is. It's one of the biggest races of the year for us. We don't take it lightly."
Is the Brickyard the second-biggest race of the season? "Certainly, Indy is a big place. There's a lot of history and tradition behind that from motorsports -- not only for our sport, but for all of motorsports. But, the biggest thing this weekend is they've done such a great job with this race track here in Kentucky. The crowd, the fan base has become one of the biggest we go to and this is a huge market for us to be in. We've had a lot of problems in this sport getting people in to watch us race -- this isn't one we've ever seen before and I'm glad that they've addressed those problems and I look forward to putting on a hell of a race for them."
How will you manage the heat this weekend? "Going to be a little steamy in the car. If you want to ride with me, you're more than welcome -- it will be fun I think. We may need these fire suits before too long without even a fire in the car -- it's pretty hot. But, it's the same for everybody. You've just got to tough it out. I've been out in the Midwest all week long. It's been in the 100s -- 104, 105. I think I saw 106 one day, so I'm kind of used to it, but I'll be a lot more hydrated this weekend than I was this week. I can promise you that."
Did you get your picture taken with Michael Waltrip's University of Kentucky car? "I haven't -- I haven't even seen that car. They were a pain in my butt here a couple of months ago. It's a big opportunity for him and he's excited about it, but I'm not too thrilled about seeing a Kentucky car. I'm KU (Kansas University)."
Source: Toyota Motorsports