CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS met with media and discussed last year's win at Loudon, making up points in the standings, what his team needs to do to make the Chase, the importance of consistency, and more. ARE YOU HAPPY TO BE BACK...
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS met with media and discussed last year's win at Loudon, making up points in the standings, what his team needs to do to make the Chase, the importance of consistency, and more.
ARE YOU HAPPY TO BE BACK AT LOUDON? "Oh, absolutely. Last year t was good to me, but that's not to say that it will be this year. A lot of things have changed. A lot of people have had time to work out the little kinks and quirks of this car. So hopefully the Jack Daniels Chevrolet will live up to what it did last year or at least half as much. It was so dominant. You can only ask for so much. I'm just looking forward to it. I like this race track."
IS THERE MORE PRESSURE COMING BACK AS THE DEFENDING RACE WINNER? "That's funny that you say that (laughs) because I told somebody on a radio show last night that yeah, it is. You've got to live up to what you did last time and there is a little bit more pressure. But it is what it is."
ON THE RUMORS THAT HE MIGHT MOVE TO ANOTHER TEAM "I've signed up with RCR for three more years."
ON THE NATIONWIDE SERIES, WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SO FRUSTRATED THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? "We're not running up to our potential. Those guys are a championship team and I just want to make sure that we do everything that we possibly can to make sure that we win that championship. I think we've got close to a 200-point lead, but by no means is that enough. One bad race and they can be right back in the hunt. So we've got to stay polished and got to stay doing the things we're doing, but we've got to pick our program up and need to be racing for wins and leading laps."
WOULD YOU BE SATISFIED IF YOU WENT THROUGH THE REST OF THE SEASON WITHOUT A WIN? "As long as I've got that one trophy at the end of the year, yes. But like I said, I'm afraid that we might not be able to do that if we don't get some wins and start at least running a little bit farther up front."
CHICAGO IS COMING UP IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS AND THEY'VE PUT UP LIGHTS, DO YOU EXPECT THAT RACE TO BE ANY DIFFERENT? "I'm looking forward to it. Chicago is kind of a sister track to our home track in Kansas and the way I look at Chicago is that if I can run good at Chicago, chances are I'll run well back home at Kansas. So that's an important race track for me."
LAST FALL, YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO SEND RICHARD CHILDRESS ON A HUNTING TRIP AGAIN "Yeah (laughs) maybe the fall trip; it's pretty early for him to go hunting yet."
SEEMS LIKE EVERY TIME HE GOES HUNTING, YOU GUYS WIN HERE "Absolutely. Well don't get me wrong, we want him here. He's a racer and he leads the pack you know. But every now and then it might be good for a vacation."
DO YOU GUYS FEEL LIKE YOU'RE MAKING UP ANY GROUND ON TOYOTA, IN BOTH SERIES? "I don't think so. In that Nationwide deal, all we can work on is our cars and try to beat them on the long run. You're not going to overcome the horsepower difference. But we're doing everything we can do and they've set their program up. I'm not going to say it's all horsepower, they are getting through the corner better than we are and their cars are working better than ours right now. We've just got to work harder, and pick our program up."
FROM A DRIVER'S VIEWPOINT, IS IT PRETTY COOL TO BE ABLE TO RACE AT INDY WITH ALL THE HISTORY THERE? "Oh yeah, with the history and tradition behind that place. Above and beyond that, it's such an awesome race track. It's got a golf course in the infield for crying out loud. It's an awesome, awesome race track and the fan turnout and everything that surrounds that race, it's really cool to be a part of it."
OBVIOUSLY YOU WANT TO BE HIGHER IN THE POINTS RIGHT NOW, BUT IS THAT UNNERVING A LITTLE BIT? "So far, so good. We just had four bad races. We went into Richmond on seven top-10's in a row, won Richmond, and then right after that the bottom fell out. We're just trying to get things turned around. Last week at Sonoma, having a top five there was a breath of fresh air and hopefully a step in the right direction."
DO YOU USE THIS AS A TEST FOR THE NEXT LOUDON RACE WHEN IT'S MORE IMPORTANT STARTING THE CHASE, OR DOES IT REALLY MATTER? "Every race, it seems like, in this series anymore is equally important. Obviously inside the Chase you're racing, hopefully, for a championship. But it takes races like this one and running well to put you inside that Chase to have a chance at the championship. So every race is equally important."
DO YOU WALK IN HERE FEELING A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT SINCE YOU WON LAST TIME? "Yeah (laughs), but not really. There's a little bit more pressure. You want to be able to back up at least half of what you did last year. That's just the case."
ARE YOU FEELING THE SAME CRUNCH EVERYBODY ELSE IS WITH THE GAS PRICES? "Heck yeah. It costs me just as much as it costs you to fill up. It's the same for everybody. It's just an unfortunate situation we're all having to live through right now. It's a strain on everybody. You're seeing scooters and everything else going down the road. I haven't bought a scooter yet, but I sure saw one and thought it was a good idea the other day."
YOU HAD SUCH A DOMINANT PERFORMANCE LAST YEAR AND JEFF BURTON LED FLAG TO FLAG ONE TIME. HAS HE GIVEN YOU ANY ADVICE? "No, I think his was a little bit different circumstances with that restrictor plate and everything that they tried that year. But it was just coming down to a great race car. It was a great race car all weekend long. Gil and all the guys on the Jack Daniels Chevrolet just hit it. You only get that car every so often and hopefully maybe it's that time again (laughs)."
CAN YOU BRING WHAT YOU HAD LAST TIME TO THIS RACE? "I think things are going well. We're back a little bit farther than what we should be in the points. But there are two or three cars there in front of us that I think that we can outrun into the Chase. I think that's the biggest thing is that we've just got to stay honed in and focused on the task at hand and being consistent and that's what we're good at."
HOW COMPETITIVE IS IT RIGHT NOW FROM 1 -- 43? IS THIS THE PEAK FOR NASCAR? "I think it's as competitive as anything I've ever raced in and maybe as ever in NASCAR. I mean you've got a lot of teams that are capable of winning races and a championship and you're given a puzzle and it's all about how you put the pieces of the puzzle together. Right now RCR is doing a really good job of that."
IF YOU COULD CHANGE THE SPEEDWAY HERE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? "I like it. We won here last year. I like mile race tracks like this. I think it races well. I think it puts on a good race for the fans, which is what this sport is all about. And if it's fun for the people in the stand to watch, it's fun for us in the car as well."
TO BE ABLE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, DOES THE DRIVER NEED TO BE ABLE TO RUN WELL ON ANY TYPE OF TRACK, ROAD RACING TO SHORT TRACKS? "I definitely think so, especially inside the Chase. They throw a little bit of everything at you inside the Chase. To win the championship, you're going to have to run well on all of those. As competitive as this sport is and as deep as the talent is, you don't make mistakes anymore. The guys who win the championship don't. And to be able to beat them for a championship, you're going to have to be good everywhere."
HOW BIG OF A DAY WAS THAT FOR YOUR TEAM TO GET A TOP FIVE AT SONOMA LAST WEEK? "It was awesome. For whatever reason, we've run well at Sonoma. You wouldn't think of going to a road course looking for a little bit of a breath of fresh air to get things started back off on the right foot. It's not secret that the last four races before that were terrible. They were disastrous for us. It was partly due to part failure one race, and I crashed another race and that's two 38th place finishes or worse and it set us way back in the points. But Sonoma, for whatever reason, I felt comfortable. I was confident going into that race that we could get things turned around. That's not always the case at a road course so it was kind of funny that I was looking forward to Sonoma. Any track like that, in my opinion, you can't look go into it worried. You've got to go into it looking for a way to get things turned around and that's certainly the way I look at road courses; and any race like that where they can make or break you so much. I think it's a situation where you stand to lose a lot of points and if you run well you can gain a lot of points."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF THESE 10 RACES LEADING UP TO THE START OF THE CHASE? "You've got to be there week in and week out. Consistency is always going to pay off in championships and that's the case with these next 10 races. You've got to be there. You've got to run up front; that's a hard thing. But you've got to be consistent if you're not going to win the race, you've got to finish inside the top 10. Right now, if you can rattle off ten top-10's, you're be in it.
"I don't think we're off anything big. We've just got to do a little bit more of the same like we're doing and maybe a little bit better calls. The biggest thing is qualifying. The last handful of races our draw has been 10th or better going out and we've got to qualify better and have got to start up front and have better pit selection, which leads to better racing."
HAVING MOVED UP IN THE POINTS AND NOW COMING TO LOUDON, THIS IS HOW YOU WANT TO START THOSE NEXT 10 RACES, ISN'T IT? "Absolutely. Coming off a good run at Sonoma and coming to a place like this gives you a little bit more confidence boost that hopefully you'll run well here and start moving forward up through the points. You want to make that gap of cars in between you the 12th place as big as you can. A little bit of confidence there is knowing that a couple of the cars in front of us we've run better than this season and over the course of the long haul, I think we can. And there are a few of them behind us that I think we can run better than. So there's a little bit of confidence there. But anything can happen in this sport, as we all know. And you've just got to make sure you stay honed in and focused on making sure that those bad things don't happen."
WAS SONOMA A GOOD SIGN FOR WATKINS GLEN? "Yeah, I hope so. I haven't run as well at Watkins Glen as I do at Sonoma, for whatever reason. I struggle a little bit more there, but I'm looking forward to it."
-credit; gm racing