CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discusses the Daytona 500, outlook for the season and other topics. AFTER A SOLID RUN AT DAYTONA, TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS ...
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discusses the Daytona 500, outlook for the season and other topics.
AFTER A SOLID RUN AT DAYTONA, TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND: "It is a strong outlook...again. The SpeedWeeks were great for RCR. I especially want to say, what a heck of a job ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines) did. They won the Daytona 500. All of their cars were strong down during SpeedWeeks. The motor program at ECR is definitely on its game. Again, this weekend here in California, I was looking at the practice run down and every ECR engine is in the top-seven in practice. My hat is off to all of those guys who have worked hard in the off season and they deserve some credit. Really proud of everybody at RCR. Our cars are fast. All three of our cars are in the top-seven in practice so I have a good feeling about our chances for this weekend and throughout the season."
WHEN A DRIVER HAS A GREAT RUN AT DAYTONA 500 LIKE YOU DID BUT DON'T WIN, DO YOU ASK YOURSELF HOW MANY MORE CHANCES YOU WILL GET WITH A GREAT CAR CAPABLE OF WINNING? "Yes, absolutely. It was a very good day for us, but very frustrating. I felt like either Kevin (Harvick) or I had the best cars there. When you don't win with the best car there, you wonder how many more opportunities you are going to have. That opportunity to have the best car in a race as big as the Daytona 500 doesn't come around every day. I was looking at Jamie's (McMurray) stats and I think his average running position was like 12th or something and he ended up winning the race at the end. But that is why we love Daytona. There is always a caution at the end. It seems like it was just last night, I remember that it was five to go, we were all single file and I am looking in the mirror thinking 'You Got It'. Then a caution comes out and all hell breaks loose. But that is why we like racing there."
YOU MENTIONED ON THE RADIO EARLIER THIS WEEK ABOUT THE MISTAKES YOU MADE, TALK ABOUT THAT AND WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE TWO RCR CARS THAT STRONG LOOKING AHEAD: "You make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes on the superspeedways. You have to be able to bounce back. You have to have a car good enough to do that. I got shuffled out and got back to 12th and I thought our day went from leading laps and leading the Daytona 500 to finishing outside the top-10, it was going to be extremely disappointing. But, we got a good push from Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) and made a couple of good moves and got ourselves back up there and got a good finish.
"For the outlook for the season, I am as optimistic about this season as I have ever been. I think all the success for our team is going to come from within with the people we have everybody still intact with the No. 33 car. Our over-the-wall crew, they were I would say the best on pit road at the end of the season. We have all of them back together and everybody is healthy and having fun. The guys have worked hard. I feel like we have corrected the problems we had at RCR throughout last season. Unfortunately, it took a season to do that but by four or five races from the end of the season, I thought we were a force to be reckoned with. I feel like we are going to be this year."
TALK ABOUT THE NEW TIRE HERE AND WHAT YOU ARE FEELING WITH IT: "Jeff (Burton) came out here for the tire test so I really picked his brain quite a bit this week. Just asked him what he felt. What the characteristics were. Less stagger, it is going to be tighter; it doesn't have as much stagger. I am an old dirt racer; that is just back to the basics. Everybody seemed to be struggling to get their car to turned in the center. But, those were always the complaints that we had. It was always too loose getting in and then way too loose off and you would burn the right rear off and you'd start going backwards in years past. I feel like it could make a good race tire. The cars are falling off which is always a good thing, because you are always going to have a car that doesn't fall off as much, it hangs in a little bit better than others. You always have that guy to watch and follow up through the field. This track, that outside line seems like its been coming in and creating more of a racy scenario for this race track. I'm looking forward to the race."
DID THE DAMAGE TO THE FRONT OF YOUR CAR AT DAYTONA HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THE OUTCOME OF YOUR RACE? "The engineers looked at it and unfortunately couldn't engineer a fix, it is what it is. I hit the hole and I had hit it, looking in the mirror and came around the next lap and it just bottomed out then I came around the next lap wondering what it was and saw really, really quick exactly what it was that I had hit. It made the car a little bit tight, but it just showed our car was, it still hung in there and had a chance for the win."
HOW DID YOU MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM TWO WHEELS TO FOUR WHEELS? "If you look at Jimmie (Johnson), there are several drivers that were riders before they switched over to four wheels. Man, I got tired of falling down and busting my butt. You hit a little bit harder here, but our eggs are scrambled anyway, we can do without the broken bones and the broken legs and stuff. I think it's still about balance. I think a lot of what we do in the Cup Series has to do with balance. You're balancing the car front to rear no different than you are the motorcycle with the throttle control and things like that. I think you get on these bigger race tracks and you have to drive the car loose and you have to be able to balance the car front to rear and you're throttle control is a big part of doing that."
HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO HAVE AN ILL-HANDLING CAR AND HAVE TO RIDE IT OUT UNTIL THE NEXT PIT STOP? "It's a lot of riding here. It's very frustrating and that's why I hope my car is running good and handling good so we can be up front with a smile on our face. I'm impressed by the way that outside line has came into this track. If you would have brought me here, the very first time I went out and showed me around here, if you told me that the fastest way around in 15 laps was going to be around the wall, I would have told you that you were crazy. It looks like it has to be another mile around because it's wide. It makes it fun. You roll into the bottom and you'll see (Juan Pablo) Montoya, (Dale Earnhardt) Junior or somebody go out there and they go out of site and then you come off the corner and there they are again with a big head of steam going down the back straightaway. It seems like that has almost become the preferred line here because you can carry so much momentum."
-source: gm racing