Charlotte: Bowyer - GM Thursday interview

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS MONTE CARLO SS: TALK ABOUT RUNNING THE NEW CAR AT DOVER NEXT WEEK. DO YOU HAVE IT FIGURED OUT? "I think we've got the consistency figured out, I just want to be a little bit better. We've got the top-10s; we...


TALK ABOUT RUNNING THE NEW CAR AT DOVER NEXT WEEK. DO YOU HAVE IT FIGURED OUT? "I think we've got the consistency figured out, I just want to be a little bit better. We've got the top-10s; we need to get into the top-fives, start cracking into that. Getting to where we can race for a win. That's what we're out here to do, win races. You can't do it running ninth and 10th. We've got to get a little bit better and I think we can do that."

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR DOVER? IS IT LIKE BRISTOL OR MORE LIKE A MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK? "It's smack-dab right in between. It's fast like a mile-and-a-half and it you really got to pull on the wheel. It's got a lot of bank like Bristol. I like Dover. It's one of my better tracks so I'm excited to go to it."

HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT THE HARD TIRE? "It's hard. It's definitely down on grip but the speeds of the track and things like that are why Goodyear has to do that. It's just unfortunate. You can point fingers but it's just the nature of the beast right now. The speeds are up and Goodyear has to do their job. If they make a softer tire and they start blowing out then everybody's going to blame them. If they don't then everybody blames the car and going to fast or the track or the pavement.

It's a hard situation. It's a balancing act right now. NASCAR and Goodyear and everybody involved have done a good job."

HOW PREPARED ARE YOU PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY? YOU PLAN TO RUN 900 MILES THIS WEEKEND. "And whatever we run over at the dirt track. Hopefully we run quite a few over there. It's a big weekend. It's a lot of fun. This is why they pay you to race. All of them others is just a bonus - the little, short Busch races and things like that. It wasn't but a couple of years ago you'd kill to have an opportunity like this. Now you're whining about getting paid for it or how much you're getting paid. This weekend is why they pay you the big bucks."

HOW DID YOU FIRST START OUT WITH RCR? "Just racing in the Midwest. Racing in the Dodge Weekly Series at the time and just hoping and praying for a dream come true. Ran an ARCA race in Nashville and ran really well there; almost won our first race ever.

As luck would have it, Richard (Childress) was in his motorhome at a rain delay in Pocono watching that race. It's just incredible to know now how everything took place and timing that was there. It's just unbelievable that he finally gave me a call."

WERE YOU PRETTY NERVOUS ABOUT IT WHEN HE DID? "Oh, yeah. Then he gives you the opportunity and you've got to make the best of it. Richard's not a very patient person when he gives you an opportunity. When he takes a chance on somebody he expects results. I'll never forget going to Texas, of all places - was my first race - and I'd only been racing asphalt for about a year and a half. Texas is quite a bit different than I-70 in Missouri so it was a big change, a big step. It was hard. I remember wrecking - we wrecked our first race there 17 laps in the race and I remember thinking 'oh, man, we're going back to Kansas'. Then we went to Nashville and almost won again there. Nashville has always been my saving grace and bailed me out of a lot of situations."

YOUR TEAMMATES SEEM MORE OUTSPOKEN. ARE YOU KIND OF LIKE THE SILENT PARTNER? "I'd say I'm kind of an in-betweener. I think they're both outspoken but they go about it two different ways. Don't get me wrong, Kevin (Harvick) speaks his mind no matter if it's right or wrong and Jeff (Burton) usually speaks the right thing (laughs). Then I'm in between."

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO RUN THE INDY 500? "Not really. Indianapolis, other than racing during the Brickyard, obviously with the history and the tradition behind that race, it's an important race. In my life and the way I grew up, stock-car racing and Nextel Cup racing was it. That's what you worked your whole life for and that's as high as the ladder goes, in my opinion."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NASCAR DECIDING TO USE THE NEW CAR ALL NEXT SEASON? "I think it had to be done. You can't run both. It's just too much strain on these guys. Wind tunnel time. obviously where everybody's behind Hendrick on this new car, they're throwing everything they've got on trying to pick that car up and make it a better car but then you can't stop progress on the old car because you're going to go get your butt whipped on these big tracks with them other cars. It's just way too much time and effort and strain being put on these crew chiefs and their crew members. It's been a long year already and we've hardly even got going. I think it's probably for the best. If they're going to do it, do it. If they're not, let's go back to racing the other one."

BY RUNNING IN BOTH RACES, WILL YOU GET ANY KNOWLEDGE FROM SATURDAY FOR SUNDAY? "You'll get to see a lot of what the track goes through and things like that. You just get in the swing of things. That's the biggest thing for me is get out there, run a race, run pass, pit stops, coming in off pit road, you just get in the swing of things and I think that's a huge advantage when the green flag drops on Sunday. A guy that's been out there for 200 laps vs. a guy that's been out there for a day and a half; I think that's a big advantage."

SO WILL THE FULL SEASON OF THE NEW CAR AFFECT THE NUMBER OF BUSCH RACES YOU RUN? "No, probably not. I was already looking at the Busch Series to run some more races next year. I like the Busch Series. The first year that was why I ran the Busch Series. To gain more experience, I'd try to get as much seat time as you could. But now, I like racing there. I enjoy it. It's very competitive and the cars are fun to drive. As long as there's a Busch Series I'm going to try to be a part of it."

IS DOVER DEMANDING? "It is. It's a long time. 400 miles at any track is a long time. Dover is one of those tracks. You get off in a corner, a lot of speed, you've got to yank on the wheel and make things happen pretty quick because the corners are tight and you're going pretty fast. It's just one if those tracks that I enjoy. I like that type of race track and you've just got to get comfortable and get suited in and good to go."

DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE TROOPS ON MEMORIAL DAY? "Yeah, it's thanks for everything you guys do. That's why we're able to come out here and enjoy our jobs and race and put on good shows for you guys to enjoy on TV. You guys make it all happen."

ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH JEFF GORDON RUNNING AWAY WITH THE POINTS LEAD? "Well, the one thing about running away with it is he's not going to run far because we all know we're going to be back on an even playing field before too long. You just got to be caught up by the time that Chase rolls around. Then you can go after him. It's no secret; they've beaten everybody to the punch a little bit. They've figured it out a little before everyone else but I think we're gaining on them and I think we're getting better."

DO YOU FEEL YOUR CAREER HAS BEEN MORE OF A STEADY ARC UPWARDS THAN A SPLASH AND THEN LEVELING OUT AND ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THAT? "I was behind the experience level when I got hired by Richard. He took a huge chance on my and thank God he did but it was a huge chance on a kid from the Midwest. Not much car racing experience and not much at all on asphalt. I think I'm still learning and I think I'm still getting better and better. Confidence-wise I think I'm getting a lot better. If I'm running good, I'm confident. If I'm not, you don't have to tell me I'm running bad. I've got that figured out. I think it's just a slow process. You're racing against guys who have been here a long time and got things figured out. It's hard to just step in and play to their standards."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE AT A POINT WHERE YOU CAN WIN RACES? "I feel like we will. I think I have the team behind me to definitely win races. We've just got to get all the pieces of the puzzle put together. It's no different than my Busch car. I struggled to win my first one and once I did, they were a lot easier. I don't know why but it's been that way my whole life. Even when I started racing cars on dirt, I raced and raced probably three years and never won a race and as soon as I won my first one we won 27 races that year and won a bunch the next. It's always been kind of the way I roll."

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BEST WEEKEND THIS YEAR? "We've definitely got off to our best season yet. We've got our pole. We had three goals this year - win a pole, win a race and being a part of that Chase, running for a championship. We've got one of them down and we've just got to get those other two down. I think that pole thing, more than just starting on the front row and track position and good pit stall, everything a pole brings you, it's all about that Bud Shootout. That's our first race of the season and you start your season off watching everybody else, it sucks. That was a big part of what I wanted to get accomplished this year. Now watch (laughs)."

DO YOU HAVE A FUNNY LIFE ON THE ROAD STORY YOU CAN TELL US? "Nope (laughs). Not really. My most enjoyable moments were back home racing at the local dirt tracks and going from one track to another, racing every night for a week and a half. Those are the good old days. Just racers out there racing. Not a bunch of fans around. Nobody knows or even cars that you are. I really enjoy those days. There was a lot of wild nights in dumpy motels across the country, sleeping 10-15 guys in a hotel room to get by. That was the good old days."

HOW DO YOU COMPARE THAT TO NOW? "It's a job. And it's a lot of pressure. Back then there wasn't any pressure. You'd go out and you'd race and have fun and have a beer afterwards and go out and get up the next morning and get things rolling again for the next night. Now, you run bad, you've got a lot of people to answer to. You've got a pretty angry boss, you've got sponsors that are wondering what's going on and that's your career. That's your life. That's how you put food on the table. It is different. I still love racing. I enjoy it. But when you include that part of your salary and how you make a living, that's a big part of it."

IS THAT ONE OF THE REASONS YOU'RE GOING OVER TO THE DIRT TRACK TOMORROW? "Absolutely. We could race for a six-pack, I wouldn't care. That's the racer; the part in you that I don't think you could ever lose. That's what's hard about NASCAR. I could care less if I'm on a race track; you're not thinking in the All-Star race 'man, this pays a million to win'. Maybe in the last lap you might think that when you're squared up to the guy.

"But you're not thinking that on a race track, you're thinking about how you can beat him. Because you want to win. Not for everybody else, because you want to win. That's the things that you have a quick second to think about when you're on a race track."

CAN YOU TEST A DIRT CAR IN YOUR BACKYARD? "We're going to Macon, Illinois to Kenny Wallace's track here on Memorial Day and Shane McDowell told me that it's not much bigger than my go-kart track so maybe I'll take my late model out and test tomorrow night."

ARE YOU GOING TO TEST IN ELDORA, IS THAT WHAT YOU SAID? "No, Macon. Kenny Wallace has a little-bitty quarter mile bullring."

HOW BIG IS YOUR TRACK? "I'd say about an eighth-mile, maybe. Jeremy Mayfield, he started the idea of a two-thirds scale dirt late models and I built a couple of them that have 600cc motors on them. It's so fast I'm afraid it's going to kill somebody. It's back in the shop up on jack stands."

ON TOYOTA IN NEXTEL CUP: "They haven't been in the limelight much so it's easy to forget about that but they'll be here. They'll figure it out just like the Truck Series. They're pretty dominant there. I think it will take a couple of years to get right but I think they'll figure it out and be right. That's a tall order. You're against very experienced, not drivers only, but teams. These teams, when you look across here in the top 10, these guys have been together for a long time. For the majority of the guys that run good each and every week, they have teams that have been together three, four or even 10 years. You never know. It's hard to come in and build a team from scratch and expect to beat those guys."

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN MICHIGAN? "I like that track. It's racy, you're three and four wide as soon as the rag falls and you can't ask for a better race track. If you can race around and pass, that's what you want and that's what you've got there."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ELDORA IS GOING TO BE LIKE? "It will be a blast. It's going to be fun to see all the drivers that have never done it before, obviously and just be a part of it. In my world, growing up in dirt racing, Eldora is a very prestigious place and to see all these big name drivers there is pretty cool."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kenny Wallace