CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed the beating and banging at road courses, balancing being aggressive and careful in these last races before the start of the Chase, the keys to surviving Michigan and more.

Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU AND TEAM ARE DOING TO TRY TO GET INTO THE CHASE. “That’s obviously the goal, but just keep having crazy things happen. Had another good run going in Pocono last week and the radiator tab broke and the radiator fell out of the thing. I mean it’s just one crazy thing after another. Hopefully we can get a good run here. We haven’t had a ton of luck here, broke a truck arm out of the car last year. I feel like this is the track where we can capitalize. This is the track out of any of these ones ahead of us that you can stand to gain or lose a lot of ground but you’ve got to look at this as an opportunity and try to gain as much ground as possible.”

OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS FANS HAVE BEEN SAYING THAT THE ROAD COURSES LOOK ALMOST LIKE THE NEW BRISTOL THE WAY PEOPLE GET BANGED AROUND, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ROAD COURSE RACING? “I think it all goes back to the double-file restarts. When they announced that was going to happen you know the rumblings in the garage were like oh my God, wait until these road courses, this is going to be disastrous. It’s pretty much help up to that. On restarts, the caution comes out at the end and if it does then all hell breaks loose. Again, put yourself in that situation, you’re getting off into (turn) one, you’re three and four wide, myself I’m outside the Chase, I’ve got to gain ground you can come out of turn one on a restart and gain five, six, seven, eight spots on that one corner if the opportunity presents itself. All it takes is one car to get into another car and starts a chain reaction. Like I said you can stand to gain or lose a lot of ground in that scenario but it is what it is. You’ve got to be cautious, you’ve got to be careful but you’ve got to get after it and get a good finish. It’s a tough thing to juggle on these tracks, it really is.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON POCONO GOING TO 400 MILES BOTH RACES. “I think that’s a plus. I think it’s going to help everything. It just seems like the track is so long. The straightaways are so big and so long you just kind of are waiting for something to happen half way to three quarters of the way through the race. I think it’s going to take that lull out of the race and it will be a better product for our fans.”

HOW MUCH DID THE DYNAMIC CHANGE WITH EVERYBODY WITH THIS CHASE/WILD CARD THING, WHEN THE NO. 2 CAR GOT THAT SECOND WIN LAST WEEK? “It depends on if he can stay in the top-20. That’s the biggest thing. It’s changed for some of those guys, for us we don’t even have a win so it really hasn’t changed. Our best shot is to race our way into the top-10. I truly believe that but for some of these wild card guys him getting that second win has been a pretty big deal.”

THE GAP BETWEEN 10TH AND 11TH NOW IS LIKE 23 POINTS, HOW BIG IS THAT WITH FIVE RACES TO GO? “Any gap is hard to overcome especially when you start getting up in that elite crowd. The further up you go the harder it is to pass them. You just have to be able to capitalize on somebody’s mishap and that’s what it’s going to come down to. These teams are too good and things are too close in this sport right now to just overcome a huge spread in a short amount of time unless you have some help. A track like this presents some of those things, some of those separations. Hopefully you can capitalize on that, if you can’t you’re running out of time quick.”

CAN ANYONE HAVE A BAD DAY? “As I said the closeness of the racing has really opened up bad days for everybody in this sport. Everybody, the best teams in this sport have had good days and bad days and I think it’s just because of the closeness of the racing, the box we’re in right now, I think that’s what presents the separation from good days to bad.”

TRYING TO GET INTO THE TOP-10 OR BECOME A WILD CARD, DO YOU HAVE TO BALANCE AGGRESSIVENESS WITH SCORE-BOARD WATCHING? “You just got to be careful. You have to be careful but you have to be aggressive all at the same time. You got to be aggressive enough to make passes, to make bold passes but you’ve got to be careful enough to not dig yourself in a deeper hole than you are already in. You’ve got to be aggressive with your strategy. I mean the No. 2 car winning that race last week was a pretty aggressive move. When I saw it rain I got out of the car, my gut told me with that storm coming behind it that we were done. Everybody kind of was talking about that, thought that, went back to their motorhomes and thought it was over, well thank God for him it wasn’t over and he got back out there and it presented an opportunity. Those are the aggressive calls you’ve got to take, but like I said the hindsight of all of that would have been devastating for him and may have been the very move that kept him out of the top-20. It’s a gamble that you’ve got to be willing to take.”

PERHAPS THIS WEEK YOU GUYS WILL BE BUMPING AND GRINDING ALL SUNDAY AFTERNOON THEN YOU GO TO MICHIGAN WHERE ITS PRETTY WIDE OPEN, WHAT IS THE KEY TO SURVIVING MICHIGAN OTHER THAN GOOD FUEL MILEAGE? “That’s a big part of it, but good strategy. I mean you guys watch these race, the last seven or eight races have all come down to strategy. It hasn’t really came down to a race; it’s come down to who can play their hand at cards the best. You’ve got to have the brain power to make that call, you’ve got to have the kahunas to make that call, then you’ve got to have the luck to see that call play out for you and that’s what we’re struggling with. We’ve made the calls at time and the luck hasn’t been on our side and swung our way. That’s what it takes right now.”

IF YOU’RE IN THE CHASE, THE TOP-FIVE RIGHT NOW THEN YOUR TEAM HAS ALREADY BUILT AND TESTED CARS FOR THE CHASE TRYING TO GET AHEAD, IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GET INTO THE CHASE DO YOU PUT THOSE THINGS ON HOLD? “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that. I think that some of the teams are building cars; some of the teams are building cars to keep up with where they are at right now. It’s not necessarily if you’re in the Chase or if you’re not in the Chase, it just depends on how you are running. How the speed is in your equipment and your organization. For instance we’re outside the Chase but we’re building new cars because our cars aren’t good enough to be running in the Chase right now so we’re on the opposite end of that perspective. Some of the guys in the Chase I would say yes, they’re building cars but their also trying to be the best they can this very week. It seems like its changing so fast throughout this sport to keep up with the Jones’ its just a continuous cycle of building new and adding on and being ready for the next thing.”

LAST RESTART OF SUNDAY’S RACE, SAY YOU’RE SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH TONY STEWART OR WHOEVER, TALK ME THROUGH THAT LAST RESTART, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE COMING OFF THIS TURN TO TAKE THE FLAG, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE GOING INTO (TURN) ONES, HOW DO YOU GET UP THE ESSES, WHAT DO YOU DO IN THE BUS STOP, HOW DO YOU GET AROUND OR BEAT THE GUY THAT YOU’RE RACING WITH FOR THE WIN ON THAT LAST RESTART? “Are you in the middle, the outside or the inside (laughing). I rather be on the inside. Several wheels are better than four. That’s just it, that’s what it comes down to on these double-file restarts like that. I’m telling you its wild when you get down in there and you’re 10 feet over your head, you’re wheel-hopping, you’re trying to keep your car underneath of you, he’s doing the same thing. You’re trying to keep an eye on him to see if he’s going to bust his butt because you are about to bust yours and you’re just managing so many things and trying to stay out of trouble and trying not to cause trouble as well. There’s no perfect answer to that. You’ve got to understand who you are racing with. You’ve got to know is he going to go brain dead and try to outbreak me or is he going to use some sense here and how are we going to get through this corner together, that plays into the equation too. There’s a lot of things you are trying to manage in a pretty quick time.”