Daytona 500: Bowyer - Media Day visit

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES DAYTONA MEDIA DAY DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY February 5, 2009 CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pre-Daytona Media Day and discussed now having points to start...

February 5, 2009

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pre-Daytona Media Day and discussed now having points to start the season, the NASCAR fans, adjusting to drivers in different cars at the start of a new season, having four cars at RCR and other topics.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE POINTS? "I think so. I was hoping you guys could tell me. I think Richard has taken on a partner with Bobby Ginn on the 33 car. It's something I'm looking forward to, having points throughout the season. A team that's made the Chase for the past two years in a row, it's hard to imagine not being able to start a race because of a rain out or something like that and I'm very excited to have the points, and that's all I know about that."

ARE YOU RUNNING A DIRT CAR AT THIS WEEK? "Yeah, I ran over there the last couple of nights. I actually just visited the racetrack. I wouldn't really call it racing because we were quite a ways off. Nonetheless, Dale McDowell ran good last night and we had some fun."

WERE YOU ABLE TO SET UP YOUR CAR AS IF YOU KNEW YOU HAD THE POINTS? "We tried to make it as fast as we could, period. You come down here and first thing up to bid is qualifying and you have to try to make it as fast as you possibly can and then you change to race trim. Nothing has changed there by any means."

DID YOU HAVE A GOOD FEELING YOU WERE GOING TO GET POINTS? "Man, that's Christmas come late for me. I've been nervous about it all season. With Richard taking on the partnership with Bobby Ginn and being able to get those points just makes me excited to not have to worry about that. We've been a team in the Chase the last two years in a row and it'd be hard to imagine not being able to make a race because of something crazy."

IS IT WEIRD GOING OUT THERE SEEING ALL THOSE DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT CARS? "It takes a little bit of getting used to. It always starts down here in Daytona, which is probably the worst place for it. We're trying to figure out who we can draft with, who we're comfortable with and who we're not. We're trying to figure out who's in that 20 car; it's not Stewart anymore. Who the hell's the 33 guy? So there's a lot of that going on - trying to figure out who's who and trying to work together. My teammates, I'm used to looking for that black and orange car, and now it's going to be yellow and black. We've got three yellow and black cars at RCR so it should be easy to pick us out. I don't want to get blamed for anything Harvick's doing out there. That's going to be the thing that I'm having to worry about. Harvick pisses somebody off out there on the race track and I've got to make sure they know it wasn't me."

"We have to get better in qualifying. That's something we lacked last year and we're aware of that. We worked really hard in the offseason trying to find speed with our cars and I think we found it. You never know. You only know the work and dedication that your team has put in. You never know what the competition's done and how they've improved and how you're going to stack up. It's really not until after Daytona. Usually by the time you get home from Vegas you've got a pretty good understanding of where you're going to be."

IS THIS WEEKEND MORE OF A SHAKEDOWN FOR YOU GUYS BECAUSE OF THE TESTING RESTRICTIONS? "It's big. Daytona is the biggest race of the year. It's what you've worked your whole life for, to win this race. You have to think of it as that. There's a lot of racing after this race that will put you in the Chase or whatever else. You can't go into the Daytona 500 thinking if I get out of here with a top 10 that will be fine and that will be a good points day. You want to win this race. You want to go for broke and do whatever you can do to win it. Practice - you've got to be careful. If you go out and crash your hot rod, somebody's going to be pissed and it's probably going to be your boss. Somebody's going to be mad about that, but you know, you have to go out there and put it in situations that it could potentially be in during the race so you know what it's going to do and how it's going to react. You're not going to go out there and be stupid. If somebody is out there racing hard three wide and beating and banging, you need to get out of Dodge."

WHAT CAN YOU GUYS AS DRIVERS DO TO GIVE BACK TO THE FANS? "We're trying to figure out how to take care of our fans and how to keep them in the game. Everybody is struggling across the board no matter where it's at. We can't do this without our fans and we have to make sure we go the extra mile to take care of them and make sure they want to continue to watch us do what we do. I think the biggest thing we can do is to remember this is a show. It's racing and everything else, but it's a show and if we're not putting on a good show for the fans they're not going to watch and we can't expect them to watch if it's not a good show. We all are race fans and if it's a good race we're loving it, and if it's not we want to see a better race. Whether we're putting on a good race or not only time will tell through the season. If we're not, we may need to make some changes and whether that means that is on NASCAR's part, our part or Goodyear's part, who knows. If the show is not good at the end of the day, that's what drives our fans."

DO YOU AGREE WITH REDUCING MERCHANDISE COSTS OR SOMETHING TO HELP THE FANS THAT JUST DON'T HAVE THE DOLLARS IN THEIR POCKETS? "You know, again I think it all revolves around the show - what we do on the racetrack. If we're putting on a good race and doing our jobs on the racetrack things are good. Whether their times are tough or not whether they can afford it - merchandise and stuff like that goes - I think it all goes hand in hand with what we're doing on the racetrack. Again, if we're not putting on a good show, it doesn't matter if the economy is great or the economy is bad. If it's not fun to watch or not fun to see in person or on TV, they're not going to watch it and you can't expect them to watch it. We have to go out there and race hard and put on a show and do the things that they want to see. If we do that, at the end of the day we'll be successful."

HOW DO YOU CONVINCE SPONSORS THE SAME THING? "I think the track record proves itself. You can't continually be the biggest growing sport in the world every year - there's a plateau and a peak somewhere -- and especially the way the economy is, I feel as if we've seen that. Can we grow from here? Absolutely. Do we need to take a step back and take a look at ourselves during these tough times? I think so. We need to figure out where we're at and where we fit in the mix of all of this and take care of our sponsors. That's the number one thing I have to make sure of as a driver and as a spokesperson for my sponsors. I have to go out there and make sure I'm doing everything I can do and that's all you can expect."

IS SO MUCH OF THIS ALL ABOUT PERCEPTION? "That plane is a big part of what I do for all my sponsors. I can't reach out to all my sponsors anymore without that. I can't continue doing more for my sponsors without a means to get there. I can't do what the media expected those auto execs to do. They had to drive a car there and it took more time to get there just to appease the media to keep them off their backs and what's that doing? That's taking away time from them trying to take care of business and keeping people's jobs. That's the way it is as far as transportation goes so those people can have at least a little bit of life and reach out to their responsibilities with their jobs. They have to have that. It's no different than the president. Yeah, he reached out and put a cap on them all, but he had a pretty expensive party a few weeks ago too. You gotta keep that in mind too. There's pro and cons to everything and there's repercussions to everything. He's our leader and we all have to have confidence in him and his programs."

HE HAS HIS OWN PLANE TOO. "He has the number one plane in the world. His plane is badder than any other plane out there. It is what it is. The biggest thing is not to get negative and not to get down on everything. It's what we make out of it. If we work hard and make good decisions as a country, I think we'll be just fine and our sport will be no different. I've been over to the dirt track in Tampa and normally I wouldn't know anything about anything that was going on with our country, but the reason I know all this is because I've been sitting in the dirt hauler for the last two days watching the news for the last two days and it makes you want to put a gun to your head. The world's over if you listen to CNN. There's nothing positive. For four hours I watched the news and not one thing came on that was positive. Even ESP- everybody's doing drugs. Come on guys, somebody's doing something good. I finally quit and got on the racetrack and nothing happened good there either. It didn't change there. Maybe it is bad out there. I think just with our sport I want to encourage the media to find positive things for our sport too. There are good people doing good things out there and working their butts off to make this sport better for all of us. There are negative things going on in our sport, but there's a helluva lot of good too."

I HEARD THE RCR DRIVERS HAD A MEETING WITH RICHARD AND YOU GUYS HAVE SOMETHING IN THE WORKS TO GIVE BACK TO THE FANS. "We do. We were just trying to reach out and have a fan day or something for our RCR fans that follow us and to give thanks. It all comes back to having a little bit of fun with this. We have to remember that all of us have a pretty good opportunity to have fun and get paid for doing what we love to do and our fans are a big part of that. Having a fan day would be a lot of fun. We're just trying to figure out something fun for them, too."

DOES IT BOGGLE YOUR MIND THE WAY THIS WHOLE POINT THING HAS WORKED? "It does, but we've been in the Chase and been a part of this sport for the past two years in a pretty big way. It would be a shame to think that we now no longer could be a part of that. I'm glad that we have points. I don't know how we got the points. I know I was told that I have the points and that Bobby Ginn is a partner on my team. That's all I know, but I'm darn sure glad that I know that. It's been gut wrenching all offseason worrying about not getting to be a part of what's going on in this sport, because I want to be a part of it. I'm happy that we are in the top 35."

WHAT ABOUT THE SHOOTOUT RULE CHANGES? "The points are good, the Shootout sucks. I'm not in the Shootout. I guess there's a payoff wherever you look. They changed it, but they're trying to do the best they can for the sport too, no different than we all are. There's more Chevrolet's out there than not. Somebody's going to be out. I'll be watching my teammates seeing how they're cars react to one another and that's going to be a big part of it. I was kind of making light of the situation in that meeting you were talking about. With my teammates, I said I was terrible in the Shootout anyway so I don't deserve to be in it. Hopefully next year we'll be a part of it."

IS IT DIFFICULT TO NOT BE IN THE SHOOTOUT AFTER THE LACK OF TESTING? "It is, especially with a new team. It would have been nice to have that race under our belt before we got started in the 500. You know, working a race together that didn't matter. The outcome, whether it be good or bad, wouldn't really didn't affect our season. You just have to make the best out of it."

SECOND PLACES, TOP FIVES, YOU GUYS HATE IT? "That's the hard thing about racing at this level. The talent, as deep as it is, getting used to losing. When I came to this sport, I was used to winning over 50 percent of the time I got on the racetrack. You go from that to winning three races last year, it's hard, you know? It's hard on the ego, but that's part of racing. You get these guys that have done the same thing and come to this level. I think it's part of being a big show and something you have to get used to, but it's also something that fuels the fire and makes you want to win more and dig deeper."

HOW IMPRESSIVE ARE JIMMIE JOHNSON'S THREE CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS? "It's very impressive. You're not going to have anyone who races in this series, whether it be a driver, crew chief or whatever else that takes anything away from those guys. What they've been able to accomplish in the last three years is pretty much unheard of. Back in the day, competition wasn't near as tough as it is now and not taking away from those guys or disrespect, the competition is a lot deeper and a lot different. It's a lot more of a team game, I think. Back then it was what, four or five guys that went to the racetrack? They reminded me of me racing dirt. It's at a different level. Now it's crews, over the wall crews. Who can beat who out? The strategy. Not just the hard core get climbing up on the wheel and getting it done. There's a lot more to it now. To be able to accomplish what they have as a whole as a group is pretty incredible."

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT NASCAR CAN DO TO MAKE IT BETTER FOR THE FANS?"I don't know. There isn't a lot of down time for me when I get to the racetrack. We're given a pretty cool opportunity to get paid to do what we want to do. It gets tough to focus on what you're supposed to be doing -- winning races and taking care of your sponsors -- because where that happens is on the racetrack. Of course you want to be a good spokesperson and you want to take care of the fans, but those fans aren't going to like you if you're running at the back every week. So to focus a little bit on what we're doing and not lose focus to that and give where we need to give. I'm telling you, we're pretty tapped out. And that's not coming from somebody who's being selfish. I think it's true. Of course we want to do more. I think Dale Jr. sees the biggest benefits of fans with his following so I'd say he's busier than any of us when it comes to that. I'd say he's a perfect spokesperson for that circumstance. It's somebody that we can trust. I do what I do and I see he does a lot more because he has a lot more fans. To say that he doesn't do enough isn't fair."

ARE HOTEL AND TICKET PRICES TO HIGH RIGHT NOW? "I don't know. It takes a lot of money to cater to that many people, to make things go around and around. I know dirt tracks all across the country and grassroots racing are really struggling at running racetracks. I don't know a lot of big time NASCAR track owners, but I do know a lot of track owners across the country in entry level racing and they're struggling. They're having trouble keeping their fans, bringing new fans in and keeping the ball going round and round. I think it's a constant struggle for everybody. The way the economy is has everybody hands tied, not just our fans. It's got our track owners, our sanctioning bodies; it's got everybody's hands tied."

WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE OFF SEASON WITH ALL YOUR EXTRA TIME? "I didn't have much, but I did whatever I wanted. That's the beauty of having off time, being able to do whatever you want. I try to continue to have fun, continue to appreciate the opportunity I've been given. Try not to lose track of that. It's easy to get caught up and before you know it, it's a job. I'm trying to have fun with it and being successful and having fun."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup