Daytona 500: Clint Boyer Media Day interview

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS met with the media and talked about his finish in the Daytona 500 last year, emotions the Daytona 500 brings, his success from last season, the pressure of following up a successful season and...

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS met with the media and talked about his finish in the Daytona 500 last year, emotions the Daytona 500 brings, his success from last season, the pressure of following up a successful season and more.

ON HIS SPECTACULAR FINISH IN THE DAYTONA 500 LAST YEAR AND ON FINISHING THIS YEAR UP-RIGHT GOING THE CORRECT DIRECTION: "Man, I hope so. That's the name of the game but I'm looking forward to this race. I always love coming here and this is our biggest race of the year. This is the biggie that you want to win. I'm looking forward to it."

ON AGREEING WITH THE CALL NASCAR MADE WITH LETTING THE RACE FINISH UNDER GREEN: "I do. I mean coming off of turn four, it was shaped up to be the biggest race ever in the history of the Daytona 500 and so absolutely. Could it have been a bad situation, yes, but the wreck was all behind the race and it was fine.

"Heck no I wasn't upset with Mark Martin, my teammate won."

ON LOOKING BACK ON THE WAY YOU FINISHED THE DAYTONA 500 LAST YEAR: "Not really. I mean that was a year ago and I can hardly tell you what we did last week. But I look forward to it, I love this race track. I love the way this race plays out. I love the feeling of not knowing what's going to happen next and you certainly never know what's going to happen."

ON HIS NAME AND MARTIN TRUEX, JR. BEING MENTIONED, AS THE YOUNG EDGY DRIVERS THAT COULD FILL A DALE EARNHARDT, SR.TYPE OF ROLE IN THE SPORT: "I would definitely say that both of us are too young in our careers and ourselves to be in any way shape or form like Dale Earnhardt. That's who everyone wants to mold themselves by. He had everything. He had the respect of his peers, the attention, the fans, everything. And he had the iron on his mantle at home to prove it -- the championship trophies. So he definitely was the guy you wanted to build your mold off of but everybody is their own person."

ON FEELING LIKE AFTER A YEAR LIKE LAST YEAR, BEING ONE ON THOSE GUYS TO WATCH: "I hope so. I think that we certainly had a really good year last year. Does that mean anything this year, no? We have to go back out and regroup ourselves and be the ones to beat again."

ON REFLECTION OF LAST YEAR AND EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED: "I don't really ever reflect on things much. I really don't ever take enough time to think about that. I know we had a good year last year, we had fun and we learned a lot in the car. I think that's a big part of our success. The thing that makes me most excited about last year is how far we were able to come in a short amount of time and how much we built. I still think we have a lot of room to improve and I'm looking forward to working on it."

ON WHAT AS A DRIVER THAT HE CAN DO SOME THINGS DIFFERENT: "Everywhere. I mean communication is probably the biggest thing. You always hear us talking about chemistry and communication between the driver and crew chief. I think that is where we came the farthest last year and that's what's going to propel us into that next group of lead drivers."

ON FAVORITE MOMENT EVER FROM THE DAYTONA 500: "Probably when Dale won it in '98. My parents were here and I had just kind of begun to race cars and the only reason I was watching that race was because my parents were here. You know we were all home as kids watching our parents and doing what they were doing. Just to see the emotion and the effect of him winning that race, it wasn't just him and his team everybody was a winner that day. You know there are not too many sports that have that kind of effect."

ON EMOTIONS WHILE GETTING READY TO START THE DAYTONA 500: "I grew up dirt racing with a 25-lap feature and you have to be ready to go on the first lap. As soon as the rag falls you have to go for broke. That's one thing that I never really got amped up or excited about. Of course you might get goose bumps or something during driver intros when something neat happens. That's definitely one of those odd moments, but it's not something that really makes me nervous because it's 500 miles. If it was 25 laps that separated the winner of the Daytona 500 from the rest then I would be nervous. There's no sense in getting nervous the first lap."

ON NOT SEEMING TO FEEL THE PRESSURE: "The pressure wasn't really on us, but I felt it a little bit. I mean the pressure is there to back up. At first it was well they shouldn't have made the Chase, then it was they'll never be able to run with the Hendrick cars, and then it was well, well, well, well. Now, it's all started over again. Can they prove themselves? That's where the pressure comes from because I want to take my team and go back out and be consistent and do the things it takes to be inside that Chase and hopefully race for a championship.

ON HIM BEING REALLY LIKE HE IS NOW AND THAT BEING THE REAL CLINT BOWYER: "I'm already fun. This is fun. I don't know why but I've always been able to work harder and be more focused when the pressure is on than not. It forces you to be 100% and dialed into what you are doing when that pressure is on. Not that you get lax or your are not concentrating otherwise. It was fun to be in that situation, the Chase, because you don't have time to think about anything else. You go home on Monday and you're headed to the shop and you want to be involved and knowing what's going on and you're intense and it's harder for me to be that way all season. I know that sounds disrespectful or whatever, but it is. It's hard to have that same intensity week in and week out when you do it so much. But it was a lot of fun to be inside that Chase. I was racing Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. I mean come on you know, that's pretty big."

ON REPEATING LAST YEARS SUCCESS: "I hope so. I'm afraid foreigners might be the ones to beat this year."

ON HOW MUCH SUCCESS FROM LAST YEAR WAS A RESULT OF HIM AND GIL MARTIN BEING ON THE SAME PAGE AND TALKING THE SAME LANGUAGE: "I think that was a big part of it. I think our communication and working together was the biggest part of our success. It was the biggest thing that propelled us into that next level and that is what is again going to get us inside that elite group of teams that we all know runs up front week in and week out. That's what they had. They had that chemistry, trust in one another and they have that bond where they understand what's going on to become a force that's unstoppable."

ON WHAT HE WANTS TO SEE AT THE GATORADE DUELS: "The No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet in Victory Lane with a big old smile on my face. That's what I want to see.

"I want to see my car handling better than anybody else's. That's just the way it is. But it's a neat thing that you get so much seat time and so much experience before you go into the 500. By the time you are in the 500 you have been out there, you've drafted, you've seen what people are going to do, and you know who you can draft with, who you can trust, and who you can't. Hopefully you've put yourself in about every situation you are going to see in the 500 and you hope you still have your same hot rod. We have all seen that before. That's a big part of those races -- you want to be able to put yourself into situations you can learn from, but is the risk worth the gain."


"Just what everybody else is doing. In the off season I feel like we made gains. We stepped in the right direction and we went down the right path but what has everybody else done? I feel like we have tested a lot and we've worked our butts off to make sure we are prepared, but you know everybody else is going to do the same thing. Are they better or worse, only time will tell.

"We have to improve everywhere. Everybody has to improve. Last season when Jimmie Johnson won the championship that would have beat all other seasons and it will probably take something better than that in the future. That's just the way things are in any sport. You've got to be bigger and better and that's why we have been testing and working hard in our off season.

"Communication, I think that is where I have to be better. I have to be a better leader. It's hard for me to take on that quarterback responsibility. When I was racing back home in dirt cars, it was me, the old man and my little brother. It was easy because you were the driver and if you wanted to change something you were going to get out and change it and if they didn't like it, too bad. But now, there are a lot of people, there's a lot of responsibility, and there's a lot of people that their lives are at stake as much as yours.

"I definitely feel more pressure this year than I did last year. I mean last year even through the Chase no one expected us to do those things. This year if we make the Chase everybody is going to hopefully be seeing it different, but only time will tell. That's the hardest thing about the off season, having all those media roundups and things and everybody wants to know. They want you to say you are going to go out there and beat everybody, right? I don't know. I feel like we have done the things it takes to make our program better. Is that going to be enough, I don't know. Until we see that, not at Daytona, you know Daytona is so much different than any place we go. When we go to California and Vegas, a short track and we get on all three different types of race tracks, I'll be able to tell you real quick how our season is going to go."

ON REACHING A POINT LAST YEAR WHEN HE ACTUALLY THOUGHT, OKAY I BELONG HERE: "You know, maybe at the end of the year. The one thing that always stood out was that moment when you were able to sit back and realize what you had accomplished. It was in New York when we were driving around Times Square and I was behind Jeff Gordon and there were a lot of drivers that I have looked up to for a long time driving behind me. That was probably the most gratifying thing that I was able to see throughout the season."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin