Charlotte Motor Speedway
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 31 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET met with media and discussed being close to his first Cup win of the season, racing in Michigan in manufacturers hometown, racing in his hometown of Kansas next week, and more.
YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THAT FIRST WIN IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES THIS YEAR, DO YOU THINK IT COULD COME THIS WEEKEND? “Gosh, I sure hope so. We’ve got a lot of work to do after the All-Star race. It’s kind of embarrassing, to be honest with you. We qualified well. The car was good in practice. We just went completely the wrong way for the race and missed the opportunity. The bad news is, we learn from our mistakes. The good news is we learn from our mistakes. That’s the thing. You don’t want to have to learn from your mistakes. It’s such an important race with a million dollars to win. But I’m looking forward to the points race and the longest race of the year. I feel like we’ve learned from the mistakes we made last week and we can put forth a good run in the 600.”
We’ve got a good fleet of cars built for this stretch.
YOU’VE HAD SOME GOOD CARS HERE AND SOME REALLY GREAT RUNS AND YOU’VE FALLEN JUST SHORT A FEW TIMES. DO YOU HAVE TO WORK AT NOT LETTING THE FRUSTRATION BUILD UP WHEN YOU DO RUN SO WELL AND JUST CAN’T GET OVER THAT HUMP? “Yeah, you do. But man, I’m proud of how this race team is running. We’re close. We’ve run second twice. We were leading the last points race at Dover when a caution came out and just made the wrong decision. We should have put two tires on obviously, and missed that opportunity. But we’ve been having a lot of fun and a lot of success here as of late and am looking forward to continuing that on. It’s so important to be able to get on that roll and to have that momentum on your side. It feels good to be able to go into the summer months, this is the grind of the schedule, and our cars are running well. We’ve got a good fleet of cars built for this stretch. I feel like we’re going to be all right.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE TO POSSIBLY WINNING SUNDAY NIGHT BECAUSE YOU BEEN AT THIS CHARLOTTE TRACK 2 WEEKS? “You would think you would over somebody that hasn’t, but pretty much everybody that I’m going to be racing and to beat out of a win at the Coca-Cola 600 has been here throughout the same time that I have. But I’m telling you, it’s a big deal knowing what to do for your car in the heat of the day versus the cool of the night and to be able to have the adjustability in your race car and to be looking forward to that and anticipating those changes and to be ahead of that swing. That’s probably the most important thing is making sure that you stay ahead of it because everybody can catch up. But it’s the one that can continue to be ahead of that curve ball is going to be the one that beats everybody to the punch at the end of the race.”
IN LIGHT OF WHAT’S GONE ON IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, WHEN YOU HEAD TO MICHIGAN ARE YOU CONSCIOUS OF THAT? KNOWING WHAT THOSE FOLKS HAVE BEEN THROUGH THAT WORK ON THE GM BRAND, DO YOU GO THERE WITH THOUGHTS OF PUTTING ON A BETTER SHOW FOR THEM? “Absolutely; every time we go to Michigan that’s first and foremost is thinking about the manufacturers that make this possible for us. We want to go out there and make sure Chevrolet wins in their own backyard right there. That’s important to them boys. It’s important to every manufacturer. When Chevrolet wins anywhere, we’re all excited. When you can win right there in their own backyard, that’s even more special.”
WE’RE GONG TO KANSAS FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS EARLIER THAN WE USUALLY DO. HOW DO YOU EXPECT THAT TO CHANGE YOUR SET-UP? AND ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO ALL THE TORNADOS IN KANSAS? “That’s what I was fixing to go to next! I don’t know if it’s a good time or not back to the Midwest (laughs). Usually I can’t wait to get back to the Midwest. But it’s just terrible what’s happened back there. Poor Joplin; oh my God please, just stop. It’s unbelievable how they just keep getting hammered time-after-time. I have some good friends in Sedalia, Missouri, friends of my fathers that lost his towing business. Yesterday evening it completely leveled and wiped out his business. It’s a horrible thing that’s been going on back there. They are going to need a lot of help getting things rebuilt and put back in place and it’s going to take a total effort from everybody in this country to do his part. I hope that everything works out for all of them guys. I hope that this weather is done for them, first and foremost. That’s what’s got to happen is stop this weather so they can get things patched back up and at least get pointed in a direction. The race is very exciting to me. Always, to go back home, and race in front of the hometown crowd; two dates there is just big, it’s very special for me. And for that fact, being able to race just down the road in my hometown, the old dirt track at Lakeside (Speedway); there are a lot of fun things fixin’ to happen. We’re fixing to run the Prelude the week after Kansas. It’s just a very important couple of weeks for me and busy, but a lot of fun.”
WITH WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS NOW, DO YOU AS A TEAM DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT? DO YOU TAKE MORE CHANCES, DO YOU BRING NEW CARS IN, ARE YOU MORE CONSERVATIVE? “More of the same; more of the exact same is what’s in store for us. I’ve got a brand new bullet built for Kansas. That’s what you have to do is to continue to move forward. If you don’t you’ll be left behind. We have a game plan of bringing new cars in and implementing those in on a time frame. If you do them all at one time, it might be the week after, you might learn something and then you’ve already got your cars built for that timeframe. So having a good structure and timeframe of when that next car is coming down the line is very important to keeping up with the competition.”
YOU SAID YOU AND YOUR TEAM JUST WENT THE WRONG WAY WITH THE CHANGES LAST WEEK. WHEN YOU GET TO THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS, WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF WITH A FAST CAR, BUT BECAUSE OF AERO OR DIRTY AIR OR WHATEVER IT IS, YOU CAN’T ADVANCE? “And that’s just the closeness of the competition on these 1.5-mile race tracks. When you’re running up front, you’re Superman. And you can take Superman and put him 15th or 20th in line and he’s lost his cape in a bad way. It happened to us in Dover. We were all running up front and we lost that track position. I still thought we were going to be okay. We were on four tires. They are on two. One guy didn’t even put tires on. I knew we were going to blow by him and we just didn’t. We never could run them back down. It’s not always the same recipe that wins these races and puts you in track position and you’re able to keep that track position. It has to do with a lot of things. The tire that you bring, the situation on a re-start; re-starts are so important. You’ve got to be able to get going on a re-start. And those guys were in clean air and got away a little bit and it took us to long to get to them. And then after that, there’s a timeframe, whether it be five, ten, or 15 laps when everything settles in and runs the same speed anyway, and we just lost our opportunity there. It happens a lot of weeks it looks to me like.”