Daytona 500: Bowyer - Media Day visit

CLINT BOWYER, NO 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at NASCAR Media Day and discussed his team organization, Dale Earnhardt's death, Daytona and more.


CLINT BOWYER: As you gel together, build that relationship, when I'm in the car, I'm saying the car is loose, he can tell by the tone of my voice what you mean and how loose it is.

I'm good with everything. Looking forward to the season. This is an opportunity to build on what we had last year. It was a helluva year last year for this sport, me as a driver, everybody involved. Hopefully we can build on that momentum and put together another great season.

Q. You already talked to the organization about this year?

CLINT BOWYER: Talked to them about the tests, trying to get our cars better.

Q. Other teams then?

CLINT BOWYER: To be honest, I didn't realize till you told me.

Q. Knowing how you approach things, I don't know if anything can be a distraction to you.

CLINT BOWYER: I can be distracted pretty much a hundred percent of the time (laughter). I think most people call that ADD. You can call it whatever you want (laughter).

Q. How about the race at Volusia?

CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I won. I love racing over there. It's always hard because, again, it's a distraction. But it will wear you out. It's seven nights in a row. Something I always look forward to. Grandkids are racing there. Austin won the first night. We won the second night. Just enjoy it. Enjoy the time together. Schrader and Wallace come over afterwards to remind you of the old days.

They were making fun of me because I had my fire suit on. I don't know, that's one thing, it's a habit. I'm most comfortable in my fire suit. If you ever see me after the race, even around here, I've been that way since I started racing. I'll hang around, have a beer afterwards, I'm still in my fire suit. Everybody is like, Going racing again? What are you doing? I don't know, I didn't realize I still had it on. They were all making fun of me about that.

Q. How do you feel about going into this year with the addition of the fourth team?

CLINT BOWYER: We're ready this time. Without a shadow of a doubt, I can tell you that is not a distraction. I think that's going to be a definite asset, positive for us. It's something that we can all benefit from. I think we all can benefit from having three solid teams. We can benefit from him.

Paul really came into his own last year. I feel like this is going to be his breakout season. I know the equipment he's going to be in. He has a great team underneath of him. They're going to be an asset for us and help us out every bit as much as we're going to help them.

Q. How is it different this year?

CLINT BOWYER: 40 some employees we've added. We lost 14. I don't think we lost any (indiscernible). We're just that much more.

Again, your funding, Richard, things are tough. Everybody knows that. It's hard to find funding. But that's what it takes to be competitive. The great thing about Richard is he's a competitor and he's going to do what it takes to make sure that everything's in line so he can go out and perform and we can look good.

The key to all of it is having a great owner. Richard's definitely a great owner. He's about as enthusiastic and as involved as I've ever seen him. Proud of him. He's worked hard. I want somebody to bring that championship home. Obviously I want it to be me. But he deserves another championship. He's put his time in. He's saved a lot of jobs when he could have closed the doors, sold the place, got out of the place all together. It's the 10-year anniversary of Dale's death. He's still a big part of this sport just like he was that day.

Q. When you say 'involved,' what do you mean? Is he in the shop more, wanting to know more about what goes on with the car?

CLINT BOWYER: Don't get me wrong. Richard is a hands-on boss, he always has been. I think he's doing a great job of instilling a positive attitude in people. Obviously success breeds that. It's easier to have that when you're running good. But he's done a great job of motivating people. We always have a luncheon, pre-season luncheon, a pep rally is what I call it. You walk out of there with a good vibe about the direction RCR is headed. I'm excited.

Q. Did Harvick really cry at that thing?

CLINT BOWYER: That was the only thing that was uncomfortable and unusual. That was different. But he was serious. I can promise you that.

Q. What got him to cry?

CLINT BOWYER: I don't know, man. He brought himself to tears.

Q. Talking about what? Last year?

CLINT BOWYER: Obviously, he was talking about the season. But, you know, the anniversary of Dale's death. It's been a big part of his life, too. That's the thing, obviously his career is because of that. That started his career. You know, he owes a lot to Dale. I know that that's important to him.

It was just an emotional moment. But definitely uncharacteristic.

Q. Everyone is optimistic this time of year. Can you point to something specific that is really going to make a difference for your team?

CLINT BOWYER: This is the part of the season, I think it's probably the most nervous part of the season that we have, just because there's so many unknowns. You know that you ended the year good. You know you've made gains in the off-season. You know your equipment's pretty good. You're pretty excited about everything.

But you don't know nothing about the competition, how many gains they've made, where they're going to be. Have they found 30 horsepower? Have they lost? Have they blew up their dyno? That's good news as a competitor when you hear the other guy blew up his dyno. That means they're not working very much, preparing stuff. Too big a horsepower, sounded like to me.

But it's a fun part of the year. I tell you, it is a little bit different for me. The Media Day at RCR, the test down here, for whatever reason, it kind of seems just business as usual this year. It doesn't really seem like it's been a whole lot of an off-season. A lot of times you come down here, seems like the first day of school again. But I'm ready to go. Been down racing my dirt car, having fun.

I've worked hard this off-season. I worked my ass off. Been at my dirt shop. Built six brand-new racecars. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of those guys, being a part of that racing, how I grew up racing. It's fun for me. I've enjoyed it. We've been down at the shop till midnight, 2, 3 in the morning, two, three weeks in a row. Everybody was worn out when we got down here. That's what keeps you behind the wheel, keeps that racer in you.

I know it's important to me, to stay involved, don't let up on it, stay digging.

Q. You mentioned the late model program. What kind of advice would you give to a new person?

CLINT BOWYER: Keep digging, win races. You always have people ask, How did you get there? That part of it's changed a little bit. Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, myself, all three Midwestern guys that are here because of the steppingstones from NASCAR. Followed the weekly racing series, touring divisions. They went to trucks. I got my break in the ARCA series, then the Nationwide Series, then the Cup Series. There are steppingstones to get you to this level. They're all a lot harder to reach right now because of the funding.

Like RCR, at the drop of a hat can find funding to take chances on a kid with a lot of hope. They can't find that right now. If they can't find it, a guy racing around at a local level with no marketing background, nobody helping him, it's almost virtually impossible. That's what tough.

I was very fortunate to have Sonic Drive-In helping me at a local level. That kind of got my foot in the door to RCR in the first place. A lot of doors opened because of the opportunities you have along the way, capitalizing, taking advantage of those. But those advantages are few and far between right now.

Q. How was the racetrack?

CLINT BOWYER: Good. We were good all night long. Had a good night. Had two good nights. Had a 15th the first night. Had a flat. Got into it with Ty. That was bad right off the bat, grandson. You go beating up on a grandson, that's not too good with the boss. He's pretty proud of those boys.

But it was fun. As luck would have it, you get into it with them. We got together a little bit on the back straightaway. Knocked my left rear down. Knocked his right front down. Here you are traveling all that way. The guy you're racing is right across the street at the shop.

We've had a lot of fun. It's fun watching the grandkids, racing with them down there. Schrader, Wallace, it's fun. After the race, it reminds you of the old days. You get out and here comes Schrader and Wallace, congratulate you, bring you a beer, celebrate a little bit. That's the way I grew up racing. That's the way the Midwestern boys do it.

Q. (Indiscernible).

CLINT BOWYER: Austin, he was rolling pretty good. I don't know. I would have had to get up high and try something up there. The track was so rough. Last year I came here, had a really good car, wrecked it the first night. I told myself, Do not wreck this the first night, make your whole week miserable. That's what I saw, Austin was rolling.

Q. The way I see it, you're leading that championship. If you keep running the way you're running for two nights, you get to Saturday night...

CLINT BOWYER: The problem is, Saturday night I could take off. Friday night is a problem. I'm going to have a tough time explaining to a sponsor and everything else that the local dirt track at Volusia Speedway in a modified in front of 2,000 people is more important than the drawing on national television in front of millions of viewers. That's going to be a tough one to sell. I'm going to try, but it's going to be a tough one to sell.

Q. You talk about how long the season is. Here you are with some free time. You're out there driving a car.

CLINT BOWYER: That's what I want to do. It is a lot of work. I'm telling you, it will wear you out. It is fun. It's fun to compete like you used to. A lot of the guys that are racing down there are guys I grew up in the Midwest racing. After the race, just hanging out, bitch racing, trash talking, who's cheating, who's not.

That was the funny thing, everybody loads their stuff up, it's all hid. That's the funny thing about dirt racing, it's all a big secret on setups and stuff. I was telling the guys, Usually you lock your stuff up back in the day, lock your car up, you were worried about somebody stealing your tools. Now everybody's worried about stealing your setups. It's like, Boy, times have changed (laughter).

Q. How many Cup guys are out there?

CLINT BOWYER: Kahne has Sprint Cups out there. Tony has his Sprint Cups out there. They're busy working on them. Schrader and Wallace, you know, Austin, myself, are kind of the NASCAR drivers. It's neat to see that. Kenny Schrader, that's an inspiration. You want to talk about racing, that's a racer. I love racing. I don't love it that much. That's racing. He's leaving here. He's like, There's two points races down in Texas, we're going. I'm like, What the hell. Go home, take a break for a couple days, man. Seven nights in a row down here, and he's going straight from here to Texas, then probably somewhere else on the way home if he can find one. That's the racer in him. He's got it bad. He's got it worse than any person I've ever seen.

Q. When Richard made the comment on the media tour.

CLINT BOWYER: His 'guaranteed' comment?

Q. Do you think he was referring to Kevin or were you in the thinking process, too?

CLINT BOWYER: As far as I'm concerned, I don't think that matters. I don't think he was thinking that. I think he's got four opportunities at it. I think that's where he was coming at from that. Kevin was the last to finish third. I finished third. As far as I'm concerned, I never finished out of the top five.

The thing is, we all got great opportunities, we all got great cars. He's put everything he's got into it, so he has no reason to think anything else.

I know as a racecar, you have a guy, your boss, step up and say something like that.

Q. The media poll, you didn't get one vote (indiscernible).

CLINT BOWYER: Really? Not a vote?

Q. When I got through, I felt I should have voted for you. Do you feel forgotten sometimes?

CLINT BOWYER: There's a reason for it. I don't win enough races. And I know that.

Q. You won two last year.

CLINT BOWYER: It ain't enough, obviously. You forgot about it. I know that. That's what I'm focused on. I got to win more races to be a bigger part of this sport, be a factor when the time is right. I think there's a lot of things that are getting better: our communication, our team being together for three years in a row. That's something that we can benefit from and use to our advantage.

That penalty, being without Shane for four weeks, having Scott Miller, opened my eyes to things that Shane and I needed to get better at. We need to listen, pay attention to what's going on here. I've already opened my eyes. I want you to experience the same thing.

We kind of turned a negative into a positive there, put together three or four races there at the end that were pretty style. If we can compete all year long like we do in that Chase, you know, that's what we got to do, what we got to focus on. If we do that, people don't forget about you.

Q. What do you think about when you start a season as a racecar driver?

CLINT BOWYER: When I think about going into the season at the first of the year, I'm not thinking about the season, I'm thinking about this place right here, what it would mean to win the Daytona 500, what I saw it do to Jamie McMurray's career. It rejuvenated him. He's back on the map in a big way. Not only did he win the Daytona 500, he carried that momentum right off, won the other big race. That's what one race can do for you.

This place means a lot to me. It means a lot to this sport. If you can put your name on the trophy, you know, you're one of a few. It makes your whole career. There's no question that this one race, winning this one race, can change your whole career.

Q. Do you know what it will take to win it, not specifically, but what?

CLINT BOWYER: You know, I know. We've gotten close. I thought I had it won last year. We were leading when that pothole came out. As an old body guy, put Bondo in the thing. But, you know, we lost.

Of the July race, I don't know if you remember, I was leading, had a flat tire on the restart. We've been close. You don't ever want to think or say that the place owes you one, but you give yourself that many opportunities, eventually you're going to capitalize on it.

Q. You can taste it?

CLINT BOWYER: I feel like I'm ready to win here. I got the combination. I feel like if we can enjoy the same benefits we've had, especially this last season on these restrictor plate tracks, engine in particular, if we have the same advantage, I feel like somebody in (indiscernible) engines is going to win again.

Q. If you do that, you're well-positioned to be one of the new faces of NASCAR. Is that something you're comfortable doing, being in the spotlight?

CLINT BOWYER: You know, I don't care. What I want to do is just win more races, you know. If you win more races, it doesn't matter what level you're at, if you win more races, they're talking about you. Ryan Gustin, USTS champion last year. He came down, he's the heat over at that modified at Volusia. Everybody was talking about him. He was the guy that was out to beat. He's struggling. That's how humbling this sport is. You have to be able to compete. The second you don't, they forget about you.

You got to be winning races and being up front week in and week out. If you are, all the rest of it takes care of itself.

Q. You were talking about the dirt races earlier. Is there anybody that has caught your eye that will be in NASCAR one day?

CLINT BOWYER: There's a lot of kids. There's a lot that could. Probably better than I am, you know. It's all in getting that opportunity, then being able to do something with the opportunity. That's where I've seen kids, for whatever reason, when they get that opportunity, I mean, there's been three or four of them in the last two or three years that I was like, This kid is going to be really good, he's going to be at the top in no time, and for whatever reason they don't make it. He was supposed to be the latest and greatest and should have been. I knew he could do it. I've seen him do it.

Whether they get nervous, fumble the opportunity or get in a different car that they're not used to and can't adapt and adjust to it, you know, they lose the opportunity. That's the thing about the opportunities in this sport, is they don't come very often and you better be able to take advantage of them.

Q. Any names in particular?

CLINT BOWYER: There's a bunch of them.

-source: team chevy

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards