CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S MONTE CARLO SS, 7TH IN POINTS, MET WITH MEDIA TO DISCUSS EXPECTATIONS, THE NEW CHEVY ENGINE, DIRT-TRACK RACING AND OTHER SUBJECTS YOU ARE SEVENTH IN POINTS RIGHT NOW. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECATIONS FOR TEXAS? "Good.
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S MONTE CARLO SS, 7TH IN POINTS, MET WITH MEDIA TO DISCUSS EXPECTATIONS, THE NEW CHEVY ENGINE, DIRT-TRACK RACING AND OTHER SUBJECTS
YOU ARE SEVENTH IN POINTS RIGHT NOW. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECATIONS FOR TEXAS? "Good. We ran well here in the fall and we're really excited about coming back here. I really like this race track and I think Gil (Martin) brought me a good hot rod so hopefully we can make the best of it."
SOME OF THE NEW CHEVY TEAMS ARE RUNNING THE NEW R07 ENGINE. WHAT ARE YOUR TEAM'S PLANS FOR THAT? "It's down the road. We're working on it. We just want to make sure that we've got everything ready to go. When we do run it it's going to be strong, it's going to be impressive and more importantly, it's going to be there the whole race."
DOES CHEVY HAVE A PROGRAM ON WHO IS GOING TO BE RUNNING THE R07 AT A SPECIFIC TIME? "Well, it's just your R&D (research & development). We're working on ours and it's not quite where we want it yet and when it is it will be in our cars as well. We're close but not quite there yet."
LOOKING AT WHERE YOU ARE IN THE STANDINGS, YOU MAY BE THE SURPRISE DRIVER TO ENTER THE CHASE. HOW DO YOU VIEW THIS? "I don't know what to think about that (laughs.) It's truly, honestly not a surprise to me. I think Gil and everybody has worked hard over the winter and we were strong at the end of last year and we just picked up where we left off last year. More importantly, the difference between this year and last year is the finish. We ran well but we just couldn't get the finish. We're starting. I'm starting to learn the car and starting to learn how to communicate with Gil a lot better. We're just learning each other better and experience is key especially when you're racing against these guys. Once you get up to this end of the garage - guys with a lot of experience - are pretty good company. Just learning and we keep getting better and better."
IS GOING BACK AND FORTH FROM THE MONTE CARLO SS TO THE IMPALA SS DISTRACTING? "It is but it isn't. It seems the first two tracks we took the Impala SS to are so unique race tracks on their own that having a totally different car doesn't matter anyway. Because they don't handle the same there at Texas or something like that. I was worried and concerned when they decided to run the first race at Bristol but maybe that wasn't such a bad idea anyway. It always seems like at first you think 'what are they thinking' but after you get it done, maybe that wasn't such a bad idea."
HOW MUCH ADJUSMENT DID IT TAKE FROM SWITCHING FROM THE BUSCH CAR AND THE IMPALA SS AT BRISTOL? "I can tell you at Bristol you didn't want to get out of the Busch car, I can promise you that, knowing that you had to get into that Cup car the next day. It is what it is, you just have got to make the best of it. Especially after the test and practice sessions back at Bristol and Martinsville, I wasn't really confident. We were decent but not really where we needed to be. As soon as the green flag dropped they are really raced very well."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM A WEEKEND LIKE THAT? "Laps, what the track goes through, what the track's going to do throughout the race. It's a big part of it. People don't really realize that these tracks change so much and that day on Saturday gives you a pretty good idea of what it's going to be like on Sunday."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR FOR YOU AND THE REST OF THE ROOKIES OF LAST YEAR? "Experience. Last year it seems like we all did pretty good and then we got to the tracks that we've never been to before. Then we were all in the back, in the fence, or wrecked. We made major mistakes that cost us a lot of points and got us behind. It's been a big challenge to learn those tracks and coming to this year there are no more excuses. There's no more 'I'm a rookie, this is my first time.' You've got to make the best of it and you've got to get it done."
BEYOND EXPERIENCE, WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN YOU AS A DRIVER? "Confidence, I think. Confidence is a big part of anything you do. You show up here at Texas knowing you're going to run up in the top five and race for a win, it's a lot easier to go out there and do it. You get here questioning yourself, your equipment and your team, it just leads to excuses and every time you have just a little bit of a hiccup, well, that was to be expected. There's no more excuses anymore. We're a top-10 car and we need to be a top-five car. That's what we're after."
ABOUT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY: "I really like Phoenix. It's always been a really fun, short track to run on. I think it races really well and I have a lot of fun racing on it. We've had a lot of success there but never won there. Hopefully we can change that next week."
ANY DIRT-TRACK PLANS THIS YEAR? "Oh yeah. We've already ran one at Martinsville - ran (New) 311 (Speedway) - and we're going to run Talladega here in a couple of weeks. I'm just really looking forward to that. That's where my heart is. I just really love dirt racing. Getting back to grassroots racing and what you started this whole mess for, that's what brings it all back together."
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN ANY OF THE DEVELOPMENT FOR TY AND AUSTIN DILLON? "I'm in tune with it. I go to the dirt shop every day and I try to help Austin and Ty as much as I can. They're good boys; they've got good parents and they've got a heck of an opportunity. I want to make sure that I help them as much as I can and make the most of their opportunity."
TALK ABOUT YOUR COMPETITORS AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: "It's pretty incredible, but they're just a little bit better than us right now. We've go to dig a little bit deeper and learn a few more things but I think that new engine will be part of that factor. Hopefully we can get that in as soon as possible and work that into our deal and I think when we do we'll be where we need to be."
WHEN WILL THAT BE? "As soon as possible. They're doing their research and development the best they can. Richard (Childress) won't put it in until we know that it's going to live and it's going to be better. It's got a lot of things better but there's years and years of R & D work in the engines we're running now and you're not just going to build an engine in a couple months and outdo what you've spend the last 10 years doing. I feel like when they do it's going to be a huge gain for us and we'll be able to step up a notch."
DOES IT BOTHER YOU WHEN PEOPLE SAY YOU'RE THE FORGOTTEN MAN AT RCR? PEOPLE SEE JEFF BURTON AND KEVIN HARVICK BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE UP THERE TOO. "I don't mind it at all. They've been in this sport a long time and worked hard. They've had a lot of success to deserve those title roles at any organization. To be the third guy in command, that's not a problem. With guys with those credentials, as long as they've been around I would hope they would be the number one guys."
HOW EXCITING IS IT TO COME TO THE TRACK WITH CONFIDENCE THAT YOU WILL RUN WELL? "It's really exciting. There's no more coming and thinking 'man, I hope we can get a top 10'. At Martinsville we ran 11th and I was pissed. We ran all the way up to third and we were a top-five car all day long. We just made a mistake and didn't. I make mistakes in the car and the guys are bound to make mistakes in the pits and we're not going to let that get us behind. We're going to get us another top-10 here, hopefully a top-five, maybe a win."
THIS TEAM IS REALLY COMING TOGETHER... "Absolutely. I feel like we're getting smarter about the race and we're no longer out there just making laps. Especially me in the car. I'm learning where we need to be and our communication is a whole lot better. I think that's been key to our success."
HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO WINNING? "Hopefully about three days away, that's what you hope. More important, I just want to keep doing what we're doing and not lose focus. If we can race for a win, you're darned right we're going to race for a win. In Vegas, that's the one time this year we had a very fast car and I made the mistake of pushing too hard and trying to race for that win. I'm not going to do that again. If we have a fifth-place car, we're going to finish fifth. If we have a tenth-place car, we're going to finish tenth. There's no more 'we've got a 15th-place car and we're going to win with it. That doesn't work."
YOU FINISHED SECOND HERE LAST YEAR. DOES THAT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE? "Absolutely. Coming off the success we had last year, this should be a good race track for us. Our 1.5-mile tracks have been really good to us this year and in the end of last year. If we were going to call where we were going to win a race, I would say it's a mile-and-a-half. The last two short tracks have kind of been a struggle for me last year (but this year) was a good race for us. We're just getting so much better everywhere it's catching me somewhat off guard. It's a lot of fun to be a part of."
DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE GETTING BETTER? " Absolutely. I think that's probably the biggest part of it. I think I'm learning what it takes to drive a top-five car and what it takes to communicate a top-five car. I think either one of those are equally important."
WHAT DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NOW THEN YOU DID A YEAR AGO? "Confidence and being calm. Knowing that if you get back a little bit, it's not going to be a big deal. We're going to be able to get it back and (so we) just stay calm and relaxed. Not 'we're in the top five, oh my God!'. Now it's 'we belong here and we're going to brace up and try to win the thing.'
WHEN DID YOU GET OVER THE IDEA THAT YOU MAY LOSE THIS JOB WHENEVER? "Well, I don't think you ever get over that. I can win the next two races and win the third one and on the way home be thinking 'man, I hope he don't fire me'. It's an unbelievable opportunity for any of us drivers to be involved with."
FEELING LIKE YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH AND KNOWING THAT YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH, HAVE YOU CROSSED THAT THRESHHOLD YET? "I think so. That's important that you say that. As a team, we're all confident that we can go out there and race to win. Given the right opportunity, which I think will come, we're going to."
-credit: gm racing