CLINT BOWYER No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing How do you feel about the changes at Pocono Raceway? "I think the 100 miles shorter will be really good. The pavement -- they did a great job repaving the race track. It's very smooth. It's going to be interesting to see on the restarts what that's going to hold for us -- how much rubber we can get built up on the outside and keep that second groove clean. But, passing is going to be difficult, as it has always been here though. Very, very fast. It's amazing -- you give these engineers and teams a couple days to work on a car -- I mean, they've picked up seconds literally and I think we started in the 53 second category and we're running in the 50 second category now. It pretty much -- it excites me to be a part of that when you can see those guys go to work and find speed."
Does a shorter Pocono race lend itself to more strategy? "I think that's just it -- the strategy. I think it could shake that up for the better. This track, it's been a fuel mileage race in the past and a little bit shorter race could shake that up. And it just seemed like this is a track that we got strung out and it was just a bit too long. Hopefully, a shorter race will create some excitement within that and we can put on a good show for the fans."
Are you concerned about turn one? "You definitely make sure the brakes are in working condition before you go out. You're sailing it off in there at a pretty good clip. (Turn) one has some banking to it and within that the car takes some load and feels secure. Getting into (turn) three actually for me -- it's flat, you're carrying a lot of speed over there and the car can really step out from underneath of you and there's no banking to hold you if it ever did slip. If you ever get up out of the groove and get in the dirty part of the track, you're going to be in trouble in a hurry. I would say, in my opinion, if there's some cautions on Sunday I would think that it would be in turn three -- cars trying to get underneath each other loose, getting up into the dirty part of the track and getting somebody in trouble. There's no grip patch in turn three anymore. No cushion."
What will it take to earn the pole at Pocono? "I don't know -- something the size of grapefruits I'd say."
How has this week's schedule been? "I guess for me personally, this week has just been busy with the 'Prelude' (to the Dream, charity race) and everything, the two-day test here -- it's just kind of been a pretty chaotic week for us in my camp. But, for what we do for a day job and the Cup Series -- these tests and things like that -- as young a team as we are at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota on the No. 15 side, it's good. These are good test sessions for us. Good chance to get caught up and work with one another and on testing. That's something that we used to take for granted and they're pretty few and far between. Michigan -- that's going to be another weekend just like this. It's going to be very, very fast. You're going to be through the roof and you're just going to have to work on a good balance. When the speeds are like that, you have to have a good balance -- you can't be loose, you can't be tight. You have to have a good balance to go fast."
Will restarts be chaotic following the repave at Pocono? "I would say restarts in turn one is going to be pretty wild just like it always has been, but you're fighting for one groove. You could slip and slide around and move up and that's the difference is now there's one groove that we're all going for. It will probably be five-wide going for it."
What will it take to be comfortable with your points position? "The crazy thing is I think we're two points out of eighth, but you've got to win. To be something in this sport, you have to win races and I think it's going to take -- to be solid in the points and probably a couple wins at least."
Are you concerned about Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsport's recent surge? "Yeah, absolutely. When they get on a roll, they've proved they can ride that wave for a while. I think they've certainly found something here and found some speed in the race cars. Last week I was running fifth and four of them were in front of me at one point -- that's not a very good feeling. Just obviously forced everybody, just like they did a few years ago, to work harder and catch up."
How does the repave impact the feel of the track? "Obviously, you can get away with a lot more. The track is smooth. You don't hit the bumps like you did in years past and have to worry about stopping a car and not hitting the race track. So, there's definitely things you work on differently than you used to, but same principles apply. As much faster as it is, you can't really pinpoint exactly where it is. You shift in the same places. You downshift in the same places. You upshift in the same places. You enter the corner -- your same lifting point into turn one is still the same lifting point. The same lifting point in (turn) two and so on. You get to the gas so much harder. You lean on the car so much harder and probably use a little bit less brake, but feel wise for me it felt faster before because you were bouncing around, the thing was jumping sideways and you were still running 200 miles per hour. Now it's running 15 miles per hour faster, but it's pretty smooth and under control."
Will the recently repaved race tracks impact the season more than they normally might? "I don't think so. It's going to come down to the same thing to win this race this weekend is you're going to have to qualify good, but you've always had to qualify good here. Track position is very important at a big race track like this where we are carrying those high speeds. You're going to have to keep yourself in track position all day long -- not only to start the race, but your pit strategy throughout the course of the race. I think you're going to see a lot of staying out, fuel only -- things like that just like we saw at Charlotte (Motor Speedway) after they repaved that. The tire is very hard. It keeps getting faster and faster. In tests, every time you go out the thing would get faster. I think you're going to see a lot of long runs and I think you're going to see a lot of people strategizing to set themselves up for the end of the race, because you're going to have to be in track position."
Are you surprised to see Richard Childress Racing struggle this season? "I'm not there anymore, so -- I mean, it is what it is. I guess you never wish bad things upon anybody, but if you're not there anymore you don't really care as long as they are behind you."