CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How do you feel entering the Texas race? "Another weekend. We just have to keep digging. We came up a little bit short in Martinsville. We had a good car and did the best we could. Just unfortunately lost a few points there. Nonetheless, we have to make up for it here in Texas. We've got three races to go and everyone is still set on kill. We just have to get out there and see what we've got for a race car. We won in this car at Charlotte and that gives me a little bit of confidence knowing that the car can certainly get the job done -- let's see if the driver can do it again."
Does it bother you that the focus of the Chase is on Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski? "There's not only myself -- Kasey (Kahne) is right behind me and there's still 10 other guys in this campaign too. It's a Chase with all of us, but certainly the focus is on that championship and those two guys (Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski) are neck and neck. Certainly one little slip up on either one of their parts then Kasey or I can be right there for the taking. Running well and we just have to see what happens in these next three races. The good news is that we've been solid, we've won on a mile-and-a-half track like this, we're getting good fuel mileage -- we're doing all the right things. We just have to see it through and see what happens. I don't know if you've noticed, but it really doesn't matter if the focus is on me or not. We have fun and go about our business the way we're going to go about our business and enjoy ourselves. It doesn't matter."
Are you focused on what Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski are doing each weekend? "I went back hunting yesterday and saw a huge deer -- I mean a huge deer. Focus is a little bit of an issue for me anyway. I really woke up this morning thinking about that deer for some reason and I know I need to try to win this championship, but that deer yesterday was huge -- it was huge -- to the point that we're trying to lease some more ground, let's put in that way. It's on the wrong side of the fence. Need it on the other side of the fence."
What will it take for you to beat Jimmie Johnson for the championship? "Well, Jimmie (Johnson) wasn't in New York when (Hurricane) Sandy hit -- he was in North Carolina it looks like so he made it. So, scratch that from the list of ideas possibly that I could win this championship. I think hit man is probably out of the order. He rides his bicycle a lot -- I was hoping maybe he would blow his knee out or something. Nothing career-ending or anything. Maybe painful -- something painful to keep him out of the car. You have to beat him. That's what makes this sport what it is. It's incredible the job they do each and every year and it's a challenge for everybody to try and outrun him. They are so solid. We saw in Kansas -- about the time you think, 'Oh boy, they've done stubbed their toe now,' they had a hell of a Band-Aid and got it fixed right back up. I think he finished right behind me and its like, 'How did they possibly do that?' That's what it takes to win a championship and if we do that, it's going to be pretty cool."
What has been your biggest surprise at Michael Waltrip Racing this year? "Success. I'm not going to lie -- he (Michael Waltrip, team owner) was probably right. There was so much potential there. You saw the potential and saw what could be. If everything played out and the plan played out and the talk -- if they could back up the talk, it was going to be what we're seeing this year. That's just been the case. It's been above and beyond. Everybody -- the teamwork is the biggest word of our year. It's just incredible how everybody works together. Everybody is on the same page and everybody pulls for one another and we get good results because of the teamwork that we have within MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) all across the board. Our partnership with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) continues to get better and better. Just everybody within the team of MWR has really elevated their game in a huge way."
Is Jimmie Johnson the favorite for the championship? "Yes, but anything can happen. Three races is still a lot of racing. You can go into Homestead 20 points out and win this thing. You never know what's going to happen. Anything can happen. It could come down to the last lap, Jimmie (Johnson) runs out of gas and you win the championship. We've seen that before or Brad (Keselowski) or both of them. There's just so many crazy things that could still happen. We still have a short track with Phoenix. We still have these mile- and-a-halves that have been coming down to fuel mileage. That can play a huge role in a championship and the way things play out. You just have to play your cards right, you have to put yourself in position and we've done that each and every week. We've done a great job. I couldn't be happier with where we're at this early together. It's just neat and it almost makes you giddy coming to the race track. The worry is the farthest thing from your mind when you come to the race track. You're just not worried about it. You know your car is going to be fast and you go out and do your job. Everything is clicking -- our communication is clicking. Our engineers and their simulation is clicking and it's effortless right now and that's the way it is when you run good. I know -- I've been in this sport long enough to know that it can flip at any minute, but right now I'm enjoying the ride."
Do you feel the program is strong on the mile-and-a-half tracks? "We've only run one race there and that was a few weeks ago. Mile-and-a-halves are definitely where I have to improve as a race car driver. Brian (Pattie, crew chief) has helped me in a big way. Still have room to improve. We need to win this weekend. We need to answer the calling and get us back in the race. I feel like we can do that. In the fall, in the Chase races I run well here. I think we can learn from what we did wrong in the spring race and capitalize."