CORNELIUS, N.C. — “New” is a word that Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer is going to hear a lot when he arrives in Daytona for the start of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Bowyer starts the season with a new team - Michael Waltrip Racing, new sponsor 5-hour ENERGY, new car number 15, new manufacturer Toyota, new crew chief Brian Pattie, new spotter Ty Norris and an entirely new road and pit crew (roster listed below). The one thing that remains the same from year to year are expectations - Bowyer is expecting his new team to compete for wins, pole awards and a spot in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup … and the first step towards achieving those goals would be a win in the season-opening Daytona 500.
ON MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING: “Starting 2012 with Michael Waltrip Racing is a fresh start, a new beginning -- a new way to prove myself all over again. The challenge is there and it’s fun. It’s nerve-wracking all over again, I’m nervous all over again and worried about things. I performed my best in the early stages of my career when I didn’t know what I was doing and I was nervous about it. Usually, somehow, some way I got some of the best results I’ve ever had. I see a lot of good things, a lot of positive things and a good direction that they are headed at Michael Waltrip Racing and TRD (Toyota Racing Development). There’s a lot of good things here and I think they’re all coming together at the right time. Timing in anything you do in life is so important. This is a new opportunity to go out and to make things happen for myself again.”
ON CREW CHIEF BRIAN PATTIE: “I’ve learned a lot about Brian (Pattie, crew chief). I’m super excited about working with Brian. I think that’s my best opportunity that I’ve ever had to work with a guy that I really, really can truly fit in with and get the most out of each other. Now it’s up to us to go out and make that happen, but from the very first time that I started talking to Brian, I just felt comfortable. I felt like the relationship was there right off the bat and can build so much more than I’ve ever had. I love Shane Wilson (RCR crew chief) to death and we’re very close, but we had a lot of differences. We just weren’t really the same person and didn’t share the same -- he liked asphalt racing and I like dirt racing. Brian likes dirt racing -- he speaks my language and we get along.”
ADDITIONAL NOTES OF INTEREST
· Budweiser Shootout: Bowyer has two career starts in the Budweiser Shootout. He made his first appearance in 2008 when he started 14th and finished 21st. In 2011, he started seventh and finished ninth and led four laps.
· 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 participated 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.
· Lights, Camera, Action!: Bowyer filmed several new commercials that will debut during the first few races of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 5-hour ENERGY will debut it’s first commercial featuring Bowyer during the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Other commercials featuring Bowyer will include Sprint, AAA and NASCAR.com.
· Grand Opening: Bowyer attended the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway on Feb. 3.
· Super Bowl: Bowyer attended the Super Bowl as a guest of NASCAR on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.