2010 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Daytona Fan Fest: Saturday news conference
January 16, 2010
An Interview with Clint Bowyer
DENISE MALOOF: Clint Bowyer, as advertised. Let's make him work. We'll start off with the important stuff. You didn't go dove hunting with the boss, but what did you do in the off-season?
CLINT BOWYER: I went hunting, went deer hunting, got a good deer back in Kansas, so I was excited about that. It was actually kind of fun telling Scott all about our hunts. Everybody was in there in the break room talking about their hunts, and he was very quiet during that period of time, talking about Scott Speed.
I went skiing in Colorado, did all that, and now we're ready to go racing.
DENISE MALOOF: How big a buck?
CLINT BOWYER: It was big, it was a monster. It's kind of like fishing. You always stretch it out a little bit. He was a good deer. I think he scored right at 170, so it was a pretty good deer.
DENISE MALOOF: Real quick, 2010?
CLINT BOWYER: Absolutely. Looking forward to the season. I think it's going to be a great season. I think we've got a lot of great things to look forward to at RCR, coming off of a good last five races and having that direction, knowing what direction everybody was working towards at RCR. It gives me a lot of confidence in this upcoming season. This is an important season for us as an organization. We need to get things turned around, and Richard, he's given us everything we need, pieces of the puzzle are there.
But like I said, what gives me the most optimism going into the season is the direction. Everybody is pulling in the same direction. Everybody is confident in that direction, and we're all working together, whereas last year -- once you start struggling, everybody kind of gets going their own different way, looking for that answer. You know, and it ultimately gets you chasing your tail even more when everybody is trying to find that answer, because you know the boat is not headed in the same direction because everybody is rowing in a different direction.
I think we've definitely got the thing headed right, and I'm looking forward to it. You know, you get Daytona out of the way, you get to California, Bristol, some of the short tracks and intermediate tracks; Vegas, you get to see what you've got, and I think we'll be ready for them.
Q: I think people maybe forgot you had a brand new team last year, so when you look at that, how satisfied were you with what you achieved, and what's going to be critical to picking up at that point and carrying forward to go better in 2010?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, you know, it was -- I guess the first thing is no more excuses. You can't use a new team or anything like that. But I don't think we used that as an excuse last year. It was a brand new team, but just to show you the struggles at RCR, our newest teams was running better, and that didn't make much sense to me knowing the caliber of teammates I have with Kevin and Jeff and Casey and everybody else. Everybody just struggled. It was part of running bad, and everybody getting to chasing what they think is right, and you get to chasing your tail as a group, as an organization.
But like I said, I'm done looking behind. I think everybody has got a positive vibe at the shop, and I think everybody is set on go.
Q: Have you seen any big, major changes with the change in the competition department?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I think so. Bringing Scott Miller over, I think he just helps support those crew chiefs and keeping them pointed in the right direction. Again, I keep using direction, but I think that's something that we were behind on is direction.
Richard for so many years has carried the load on his shoulders, and you just can't do that anymore. It's no longer 20 guys working on a race team, there's 400 people working. You know, it's not fair to look to him for the answer all the time. We've got good people put in place, Mike Dillon has stepped up and done a really good job. I'm proud of him. Proud of Scott Miller and the job since he's been in the competition director's role. I think that's what -- those changes in the mid part of the season are why we saw the strong runs there at the last few races of the season. You know, it's a day late and a dollar short, there's no question. But we were all onto the right -- we're on the right track and have the cat by the tail, so to speak, in my opinion.
But that's what's exciting about this season is now we're going to change from the wing to the spoiler. What's that going to bring in? I think as a fan of this sport, that's what we need. We need to create a positive change that keeps people tuned in to what we all love in this sport and make racing good, keep racing as strong as it's been over the years. And I think this is a change that people can see at home on TV and even in the grandstands.
You know, they've made a lot of changes to this car, there's no question. They've made several changes to this car since its inception, but they haven't made a big change, and I think this is a big change and it's going to keep people tuned in to what we do.
Q: Looking at your stats from last season, what was really stark was the lack of Top 5s, four Top 5s in 36 races, and you've been a real consistent driver in the past. What do you need to put together that kind of a finish on a regular basis?
CLINT BOWYER: Better equipment. You know, I mean, from last season, there's no question. Look at all of our stats with Kevin and Jeff and Casey and all of ours, they were down. But we've got to do a better job. There's no question, you can't just get down and blame everything on the car. You've got to pick your game up, and we've all been working hard to do that and trying to find areas how we can help them better. Jeff has been testing all over the place. I wish I could, but there's -- you know, if Goodyear doesn't invite you, you can't go. You can't just show up and say, hey, I'd like to try on some of them tires, will you let me? Jeff has been doing a good job of bringing back good, positive information from some of those tests.
You know, I truly am excited. I think, face it, when we put all three cars in the Chase, when we put all of our cars in the Chase, there was three of them, and I like my teammates, I like Jeff and Kevin and I think we work well together.
Casey was a great teammate. You couldn't ask for a better guy to race alongside. Very unfortunate. I hate that for him. But selfishly just looking at our program, we ran our best when we had three cars. I don't know why. I don't know the answer to that. But we did.
Q: That pretty much answered my question, but my follow-up was aside from the loss of case I as a good teammate, from an organizational standpoint, is RCR more comfortable as a three-car team versus a four-car team?
CLINT BOWYER: I think so. I don't know if that's -- we certainly -- the people that we hired for that fourth team were basically my guys, so I was basically the fourth team. You know, he fell into my own '07 crew, and Gil and everybody else. We had the new team. So you can't say that it was poor people that we hired for that 4 team is why it didn't work. I just think that circumstances were not good right then, and our program, our direction of our program wasn't good. You know, for whatever reason, whether it's management or whatever else, I think three cars, I just have a good strong feeling that three cars are going to be better for our organization.
Q: What were your cars doing better at the end of last yea Were you r able to brake later? Were you able to come off the corner quicker?
CLINT BOWYER: Driving. They drove better. I mean, it's as simple as that. They either drive good or they drive bad. A bad handling race car, as close as these things are with this new car, you're out the window. I mean, you can have the best driver in the world, he ain't going to win with it. And as competitive as it is out there, I truly believe that.
I think if you -- when we figure it out, which I think we have, I think you're going to see our results pick up, and it's not because we just remembered how to drive again. I think it's because as a team we got better. You know, we've worked hard to try to keep our over-the-wall guys. We really have a good direction with our pit crew. Our engine program was strong all year long. They've even picked their game up even more from last year. I think everybody has been working hard to make sure they hold up their end of the deal, and I think they have.
Q: I hate to keep harping on last year, but was it a particular race or practice session early last year when you figured, it sort of hit you that, man, we're headed the wrong way? And also towards the end of the year was there a particular race or practice session where you said maybe we're starting back in the right direction?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I don't know exactly what race it was. I mean, I can tell you going back to Lee's question on the Top 5s, I think three of our four Top 5s were like in the first six races or something crazy, and then things were looking good. We were second in points with a brand new team. I'm like oh, no, I hope this stays going like this; this is almost too good to be true. It's too easy. Then it hit. Then we started struggling, and you're with guys you don't know, that you're not comfortable with. Now all of a sudden the communication and that side of it starts playing a huge role, even bigger role, when you're struggling, and that's what we got behind as a team.
You know, I think it's just -- a lot of the things -- it happened a year ago, too. We ran really strong I'm going to say it was in '08, we ran really strong there right at the end of the year, Kevin had hit on some things and we bought into a lot of what they were doing. It just didn't work. And it took a long time to get those to -- first of all, figure out that it wasn't working. Second of all, figure out which way you wanted to go with it. And then third of all, getting 20 or 30 cars changed out, whether it was a front clip -- we changed out front clips, I think -- can you imagine how long it takes to get all that changed out and get it to what you see on Sunday? You can't just do one. That's not enough. You've got to change a lot of them and change a lot of people's jobs. That's the thing is everybody has a role. Everybody has a job to do and a task. When you change something, it takes a long time to get that to what you see on Sunday.
Q: You were right, it was the first six races through Martinsville --
CLINT BOWYER: See? I told you.
Q: Do you think the change from wing to spoiler will help any driver, any specific drivers or any drivers who have a specific style?
CLINT BOWYER: Not really. I think, you know, when you went to -- there's no question there was an organization that dominated last season. They were on it better than everybody else, they had figured it out. I mean, face it, if you weren't driving one of their chassis, you were going to get beat. That's forced everybody in every organization to change things and look at their program, learn from that program and try to make your program better.
I think the spoiler is going to be another change. Now, who will the next one be? Will it still be Hendrick? Will it be RCR? Will it be Gibbs? It better be RCR. I'm hoping for RCR dominance for five years. I'd like to ride that wave. But nevertheless, I think it's going to be a change.
But the bottom line is the cream will always rise to the top, and it always has. Even when they went to this new car, it was the same familiar faces racing for the championship at the end of the year.
DENISE MALOOF: Thank you, Clint. We'll see you again very, very soon.
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