CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET met with media and discussed pushing & pulling, choosing partners, the Duel Qualifying races, and other thoughts about the paired racing, and more.
ON THE WEEK SO FOR AND LOOKING AHEAD TO SUNDAY'S DAYTONA 500 "Yeah, it's been a busy couple weeks for me. We've been down here (Daytona Beach) since two Sunday's ago. I've been having a lot of fun. SpeedWeeks is always important to me. I love it down here. As a fan of motorsports, you get your fix. There's Volusia, the dirt races, there's New Smyrna, really good asphalt racing going on over there. It's just exciting. The (Budweiser) Shootout, the Duels, Nationwide, the Truck race, the Cup race, there's just so much going on down here it keeps you busy.
"But I've learned a lot. I think we've all learned a lot. I think NASCAR has learned a lot about the new surface. Who would have thought in a million years spending $20 million on improvements would create some headaches for you where you have to make some pretty major adjustments like they've been having to do all week long. Hats off to everybody and their efforts to make Daytona one of the best race tracks in the country. So, like I said, the Duels were good. We learned a lot from them. I think the 500 is going to be good for us. Our cars are all fast. We work well together as a team; and doing a good job of managing everything. I think the results have spoken for themselves."
HOW VALUABLE WILL IT BE FOR YOU TO RACE IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE JUST TO GET MORE TIME? IS THIS A ONE-TIME DEAL? "Oh, I think we have eight (8) on the schedule. I'm really proud of the Rheem (Tankless Hot Water Heaters) folks. Kevin (Harvick) brought me an awesome car. It's fast. We're going to have a shot at that one. That's what's so much fun about coming down here. This track means so much to you and when you're in equipment that you know going into the race, before the race, that you're going to have a shot at winning if you do the right things, that's a good feeling. So, absolutely. The extra time on the race track, working with your spotter, working the draft, trying to figure out things. The thing is, as a race car driver, all of us know where we need to be and where we want to be, but you have to figure out how to get yourself there. And we have to get yourself in that situation so you can have a shot at winning. That's a lot harder than it looks."
YOUR TEAMMATE SAID YOU SHOULD HAVE WON THAT RACE (DUEL QUALIFYING RACE ON THURSDAY), AND YOU WAITED TO LATE TO MAKE YOUR MOVE. "Who's that?"
KEVIN (HARVICK). "Oh, he must have waited way too long (laughter). Where did he finish?"
HE WAS IN THE OTHER RACE. DO YOU AGREE OR NOT? "I know that. I think he finished third or fifth or something. But obviously, I did wait about six inches too long. But there was so much there. You had to, in that situation; I needed to take care of RCR. Those guys were pretty close to us. I was worried, coming off of (Turn) 4 if I moved out that it was going to break our momentum and those guys were going to suck up on us and neither one of us would have won. Richard (Childress) would have been not too happy. That was going through the back of my mind. Obviously if it was the 500, in a different situation, I would have gone for it a little bit more. But like I said, I was really happy for Jeff (Burton). After the ending to his season last year, he needed a win. I was happy. Obviously you always want to win. You want to win for your team. But that situation wasn't all that bad."
YOU GUYS WERE LIKE MR. CONGENIALITY ON THE RADIO. FOR AS FURIOUS AS IT WAS, IT SEEMED VERY CALM. DID YOU HAVE A TEAM MEETING PRIOR TO IT TO LAY OUT A GAME PLAN? "You do a little bit. I think calmness in that situation is key. You've got to stay calm. You've got to have a spotter that stays calm and lets you know your surroundings at all times. And the calmer it is, the more you can slow it down, I think the better off and the better shot at making the right decision, you have. Funny, before the race Jeff Gordon kept asking me, 'What are you going to do? Are you going to go with me? I know you're going to go with your teammate. I know you are!' And I'm like actually, let's just get going. I'm going to push you and of course, when I get a chance, I'm going to get with my teammate and I'm going to beat you (laughs). But for the time being, let's get going. He kind of made our decision right off the bat. I planned on pushing him for a while. But he moved over in front of the No. 21 (Trevor Bayne) and that gave (Jeff) Burton a chance to get over behind me.
"So that was funny, the kind of wheeling & dealing that was going on before the race. And then, he screwed it all up (laughs). As soon as he moved up, Burton slid down and it was perfect. I was laughing all the way down into "Turn) 1 because I don't think anybody really knew what the plan was."
HOW DO YOU THINK SUNDAY'S RACE IS GOING TO TURN OUT? "Time will tell. After watching the first Duel, I fell asleep on the couch. I'm not going to lie. I was watching it and I literally fell asleep (laugh); and I woke up and I thought man, I'd better wake up 'cause I've got to go race. The second one was obviously a lot more intense and more interesting for me in the car. You were able to get out, but it would cycle back around. They'd run you back down and suck-up on you and you constantly had to manage that cycle and try to put yourself in the right situation and be back up front when the time came. The caution came out and kind of enabled Jeff and I to get gone. There's a lot to it right now.
"You can push, a two-car push, but you can only push for a certain amount of time and you've got to get out and breathe and manage your temperatures. And then that slows you down and enables them to suck back up on you and then the cycle starts back up again. So, it's difficult to keep that going. And the switch. They come up on you so much faster that it forces them to make a pretty evasive maneuver at times and that gets pretty hairy.
"But I thought it was a lot more interesting race, the second one, than the first one. Not pulling any punches or anything, but I think the second race probably had more of the cars that I think I've got to beat for the 500, in it than the first one did. That is why you saw more racing going up front and that's what I thought the difference was."
IT SEEMED LIKE WHEN CARS GOT PAIRED UP IN THE DUEL RACES YESTERDAY, THEY STAYED TOGETHER FOR THE ENTIRE RACE; EVEN TO THE POINT OF WAITING FOR EACH OTHER ON RESTARTS AND ON PIT ROAD WITH VERY FEW CHANGES BETWEEN PARTNERS. DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE THAT IN THE 500? "I think you saw a lot of teammates and a lot of agendas there. There's a lot of teammate communications meetings and so forth going on before the race and making a plan to help each other get to the front and achieve your goal. But I think that was the case. The first one (race) the teammates weren't quite there. Paul (Menard) couldn't get to Kevin (Harvick) and it forced him to find a new dancing partner and him and Matt (Kenseth) did a good job of getting out front and managing their situation to where they were up front all day. But the key is being able to push.
"I was watching the race and Darrell (Waltrip) and them were talking about everybody and Matt (Kenseth) pushed Kevin (Harvick) around the track the whole race and he never said anything (laughs). And I'm like, hello? The No. 17 (Kenseth) hasn't swapped yet. You need to start talking about that. They finally started talking about it. It's going to be interesting to see who can push the longest and I think whoever can do that is going to prevail."
DO YOU THINK THE FORDS ARE THAT FARTHER AHEAD IN TERMS OF A COOLING SYSTEM THAT THEY SEEM TO BE ABLE TO STAY BEHIND ANOTHER CAR FOR A MUCH LONGER PERIOD OF TIME? "A Ford? Surely not."
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE WHEELING & DEALING GOING ON, ON THE GRID; AND TEAM MEETINGS. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FINDING OR IDENTIFYING DRIVERS YOU CAN WORK WITH? "Well, it all goes according to plan until like I said, Jeff (Gordon) pulled out right off the bat and then your plan and all the talking you've done goes out the window. But it's the same for everybody. You're going to have to find somebody that you can work well with. And I'll tell you another thing, going back to what you're thinking and what your thought process is and what you're going through as we're learning about this, you're going to find cars that you just flat can't run the speed with. And that's a big thing. You're going to have to realize, hey; if he's not pushing me fast enough, let's swap and see if I can pick up. And if you don't, you need to get with somebody else pretty quick or you're going to have a long day."
GIVEN WHAT YOU'VE SEEN AND EXPERIENCED YESTERDAY, IS SECOND STILL THE PLACE TO BE COMING FOR THE CHECKERED FLAG? OR IS IT NOW SWITCHING TO BEING OUT FRONT? "Well, both races were won (being) pushed to the win. But like I said, if it was the 500 I would have made a little more attempt at winning than I did there. But you don't know. I don't think you're going to have two cars break away for the win like that. I'm a fan of this thing too. I want it to be the best race ever and I want it to be four, six, eight cars in a pile going for the win at the end like it's always been here. I really don't think, unless it's a green-white-checkered, that you're going to have that. And even if it is a green-white-checkered, you may not see just two cars going for it in the end. I hope not."
WHY WERE THE TWO RACES SO DIFFERENT? AND IF YOU FEEL ASLEEP DURING THE FIRST ONE, WHAT DOES THAT SAY FOR THE FAN WHO DOESN'T WANT TO FALL ASLEEP DURING THE DAYTONA 500? "It's like I said, I think the second one had a lot more cars that are going to be contenders for this 500. No offense to anybody, but I felt like there were a lot more cars that are frontrunners week in and week out in the second one. I think that's why you had a lot bigger battle. You had four to six two-car packs that were battling and that swapped in a cycle for a lead. So I don't think you're going to see that first race play out with 43 cars out there; I know you're not. I think it's going to be even more so than what you saw in the second race."
WHEN THE CARS WERE DOING THE PUSHING IN THE CORNERS, THEY WERE JUST SLIGHTLY TO THE RIGHT OF THE CAR DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM. WAS THAT ALL ABOUT TRYING TO SCOOP-UP SOME FRESH AIR, OR TO TRY TO AVOID SPINNING THE GUY THEY WERE PUSHING "Well, you don't want to find yourself on the left side of their bumper. You're going to turn them around. It seems where it happens is in the corner. When you're sucking up on somebody, you go to move out and change your angle and then you're pulling on the wheel to keep the arc of the corner back in. That's when you find somebody on your left-rear taillight and it can spin you out. For whatever reason you want to be perfectly behind him and then if not, over to the right side, it seems effortless as it pushes them around. But if you get over to the left side, they've got their hands full and if they don't save it, it's probably going to wreck you too. So, as a pusher you've got to be sure you don't do that to them because it's probably going to wipe you out too. But as a pushee, you've got to make sure they don't make some evasive move in the middle of the corner where it changes their arc and puts you in that situation."
HOW MUCH OF THIS IS A PHENOMENON AND HOW MUCH OF IT IS A TREND? "Well, we're stuck in this sandbox for now. This is the sandbox we've got to play in and we've got to make the most out of it. As far as the future goes, my personal opinion is that I don't see them having this situation play out. You know, we've got four of these (restrictor-plate races). Now that both big tracks (Daytona & Talladega) are repaved, we've got four races just like this. So I think they'll make a change, I don't know what it will be, but I think they'll make a change and attempt to make this go back to three and four wide, massive wrecks (laughs) and go back to normal on superspeedways. That's the way it's always been. Hopefully, surely, they can get it back that way."
YOU SAID EARLIER THAT ONE CAR BEHIND THE OTHER MIGHT WORK AND THEN WHEN THE SWITCH HAPPENS, IT WON'T. IS IT THE AERODYNAMICS OR THE DRIVERS OR THE MAKE OF THE CAR? "Well, I can tell you, bragging on my ECR boys, but when we're pushing we go pretty fast. I'm just really proud of your efforts. It's a lot of fun to be able to come down here and know you've got the horsepower under the hood to get the job done. Certainly there are water heaters that produce a little more heat than others."
-source: team chevy