Darlington Raceway 500
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed racing at Darlington, the All Star race, testing and other topics.
I’m telling you, anytime you come here and unload good, that is a breath of fresh air right off the bat.
YOU DIDN’T GET MUCH PRACTICE BEFORE THE RAIN STARTED: “We unloaded pretty good with the BB&T Chevrolet. I’m telling you, anytime you come here and unload good, that is a breath of fresh air right off the bat. This isn’t one of my best race tracks. But, nonetheless, we have to be able to overcome it and a good race car goes a long way towards that. Pretty excited about the weekend. Like I said, started off good and hopefully we can keep it that way.”
IF THE RAIN PERSISTS, WHAT IS THE RACE GOING TO LIKE? WILL BE IT AFFECTED BY SUCH LIMITED PRACTICE? “I think everybody got enough practice. We all know enough about our programs that we’ll be fine. I’m not really worried about it. We didn’t get a whole lot of practice. We actually unloaded good and switched over to a completely different package and it wasn’t as good. Then, we had to really backup and punt and we only got one lap back on the track with the old way but it was still a pretty good lap. I’m not really worried about it. Kurt (Busch, crashed during practice) had a problem there and it might be tough on him. But it is the same for everybody and everybody will be able to overcome it and everybody’s gone down this path. Benn on these bigger race tracks. It is a little bumpy off of two. Everybody’s pulling their control and things like that; kind of threw us for a loop right off the bat but we were able to put some packer in it and it was fine.”
CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT BUILDING ABOUT THE ALL STAR EVENT? “Oh, absolutely. I mean, we live right there too. You do feel the excitement in the air. It just builds over the course of about a month’s time. A lot of hype goes into that and it’s for a million bucks you know. Everybody wants to win that race. Obviously it is a big race for our sport, but that is a huge payday.”
NINE RACES INTO THE SEASON WITH THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM AND YOU HAVE MADE SOME BIG GAINS, ANYTHING STAND OUT FOR YOU ABOUT THE SYSTEM? “You really do feel like it is about the same thing it has always been. When you look down and you look at it, you are like ‘Man, I’m only four points ahead of that guy’; or something crazy like that and you aren’t used to seeing that. It still pretty much takes the same things to be good. We’ve made a lot of ground up. We came from 24th to seventh, but we’ve ran strong. We have had five good runs in a row and that’s very difficult to do as competitive as this sport is right now; as even as everything is, it is very very tough to be able to string together a bunch of good runs. I know how fortunate we’ve been and hopefully we can continue to ride that wave.”
WITH THE NEW CHASE FORMAT, HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE LAST FIVE, 10 RACES TO GO HEADING INTO THE CHASE AS SOME DRIVERS OUTSIDE THE TOP-10 ARE GOING TO BE LOOKING FOR WINS? “I’m not a big fan of that. I don’t want to be negative about anything but I just feel like if I was running a Chase format and had 12 teams to run for a championship; I’d want my 12 best teams over the course of a year to be able to compete for that. I just don’t see how a guy running 19th in points and if he were to win on a rain-delayed race or a fuel mileage race or something like that, how he would stack up against the competition in a 10-race Chase for the Championship.”
HOW DO YOU RACE JUAN PABLO MONTOYA? “You know, I race people the way they race me. It doesn’t matter who it is, you know. I have a lot of respect for everybody. Juan has always raced me well and I give the same respect back to him. If somebody is racing you hard, you race them back hard. Like I said, that’s the way it goes. It seems like the rule of thumb the way I learned and that is the way I do things.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TESTING? GOODYEAR SEEMS TO BE DOING MORE TESTING AS THE TIRES HAVE BEEN A LITTLE BIT FINICKY? WOULD YOU STILL LIKE TO HAVE A BAN? “Two or three years ago, I would have said absolutely, we need to test. We have to test. Man, I’m telling you, the more I have learned. The more I’ve become confident in my guys, in my engineers and the guys that bring the setups to the race track, we don’t need to do any more. Things are good. We’re running well as it is and we haven’t tested all year. Really, the only way you are going to test is if Goodyear invites you to test. We just haven’t been invited yet. Some of my teammates have. We’ve been able to look at what they have learned at the tire tests and things like that and put it to good use. I feel like that through simulation; through the engineering side of our sport has come so far that can get you pretty close and get you a good baseline setup before you even get there and don’t need to be on the race track.”