Stock Car Racing

Latest News

AUG 11, 2017 | Ford Performance Staff

Bowyer Sets His Eyes on Making Playoffs at Michigan

BowyerMIS_800

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Ford Fusion, is 28 points behind Matt Kenseth for what is now the current final playoff spot, but a win this weekend at Michigan International Speedway would change that scenario.  Bowyer spoke about his chances prior to today’s practice session.

CLINT BOWYER – No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Ford Fusion
HOW MUCH PRESSURE DO YOU FEEL COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND AND HOW DOES MIS SUIT YOU?  
“Michigan is a lot of fun.  Michigan is a very important race track because a lot of bragging rights are on the line with the manufacturers all being right here, this track being in their backyard, so we all know that.  We all feel that.  We all went to Ford Day and I know the other competitors have their day and their announcement yesterday.  You meet all those employees at Ford.  You see them.  You see their families, their children, everybody that they brought out – Edsel; his son, Henry.  It makes you want to go to the race track and win in their backyard and celebrate that victory with them.”

WHAT KIND OF PRESSURE DO YOU FEEL TO GET IN THE PLAYOFFS?  “There’s always pressure.  It doesn’t matter.  There’s pressure in the Daytona 500 to go out there and perform and try to win that race.  There’s always pressure.  It’s no different now.  You still focus on the task at hand.  You focus on unloading a fast race car, making good downforce, making good horsepower, knowing it’s gonna take that on this race track, and you focus on the adjustments, the balance of your car so you can go out and qualify well today.  That enables you to gain those stage points as we go through the race and then work hard to get a finish.  It’s the task at hand week-in and week-out that you have to focus on.  You can’t worry about those points.  You have to go out and do your job week-in and week-out and if you do that, I feel like with the way we’re running we can get in two different ways.  I think we could win and I think we can point our way in.  I think both of those are definite doables right now for us, I guess.”

DO YOU TAKE CHANCES?  “You always have to take chances.  That’s the hard thing.  When the pressure cooker is turned up and the situation is where it is right now, you can afford to take chances, you need to be able to take those chances to enable you to get those stage points if you’re out – make a gain to try to get them.  But there’s also a catch-22 to every decision there, so you just have to lay it all out, focus on the task at hand, whether that’s a stage win or the second stage or the finish at the end – focus on that and let the rest take care of itself.”

DO YOU THINK MR. HAAS WOULD GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO DRIVE THE F1 CAR?  “I can’t even get up early enough to watch those races let alone compete in them?  I would love to do that.  I know Gordon did that and have talked to him about that experience.  It’s just amazing what those cars are capable of doing, but they look more like spaceships than race cars, if you ask me.  I grew up in Kansas and we didn’t have anything like that.  We couldn’t even get the station to cover that, so I don’t know.  And I can’t understand the announcer that covers it anyway, so I don’t know about that.  I would like to go to that track that has all the boats on it, with those big yachts.  If you can find me a rig like that to back up to the track, and watch them when I retire I’ll go with you how about that?  You’ll have to talk to everybody, though.  I won’t be able to do that, either.”

DALE JR. HAS HIS LAST RACE HERE AT MIS.  WHAT IS HIS LEGACY?  “I think that legacy started long before him, and he carried the flag for that legacy for a long time – kept that fan base alive.  That’s not on his shoulders to be able to do that.  I felt it’s always been a little bit unfair for him to have that workload on him, but he’s done a good job with that and it’s time for us to hold up our end of the deal and to capitalize on that.  But that doesn’t just mean a driver or anything else, that the program that you see week-in and week-out.  You go back to Watkins Glen.  We’re getting beat up on attendance and things like that.  These are all situational things.  I believe in products.  If you have a good product, they’ll come.  They’ll come and spend their hard-earned money on that product, whether that’s in New York, Michigan or California.  If you put a good product on that race track, and not only the race track, a good product in the infield, a good environment in the grandstands, take care of the kids, the families and all the demographics – take care of all of that – you’re always gonna have fans flock to this sport.  That’s what put it on the map, whether there was a legacy on the line or not, the product on the race track is why people came to this.  So I think if we can continue to put good products on the race track like we saw at Watkins Glen last weekend, you can expect full houses.  People say, ‘Well, that grandstand wasn’t full.’  Well, that’s because they were able to get out of there and go to a different corner and watch and take in the environment of the weekend.  I was one of the guys that got in a golf cart and did two youth autograph sessions, which is more than I’ve ever done.  Families bringing their kids and enjoying a weekend worth of fun.  It wasn’t just a race worth of fun, that was an action-packed weekend full of fun for everybody.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TIME OF YEAR THAT YOU ENJOY SO MUCH?  “Well, it’s summer.  Everybody loves the summer.  It’s just fun.  It’s a ton of fun to be able to go to battle each and every week with my teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing, knowing that you have a chance at winning and knowing you can work alongside such quality people.  Having a manufacturer behind you with Ford and the partners we have on these race cars, and being able to step in that environment and go to battle is so much fun.  Aside from that, now the pressure cooker has heated up.  I’m the hunter not the hunted, so it’s a lot of fun to go into this weekend knowing that you’ve got to go out there and chase that guy down or chase those guys down and hopefully pop off a win here and just put it all to bed.”

DO YOU RACE BRISTOL DIFFERENT DURING THE DAY THAN AT NIGHT, AND DO YOU EXPECT NEXT WEEK TO BE CRAZY?  “I hope it’s crazy because I want to drive…they moved it to the front straightaway, didn’t they?  I think I’m still gonna pull on the building and celebrate up there because that’s where I want to celebrate in front of all those wild and crazy fans.  There’s no better atmosphere.  They’re so close to you that you feel that environment, those fans like Bristol.  I’m telling you, driver intros you’re walking down there and it’s just the feeling that comes over you before you get in that car is just something you don’t feel anywhere else.  It’s because of the closeness of the fans to you.  They’re all breathing down on you and expecting big things out of you, and you can’t wait to go out there and get in that Colisseum and go to battle.”

DO YOUR ROYALS HAVE ENOUGH TO CATCH MY INDIANS?  “Man, I hope.  Cleveland.  We get on a nine-win streak and the only one better is Cleveland with 10.  Surely, we’ll run you down.  Just like me on the race track, we’re hunting you down.  We’ll come after you.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE AUTOGRAPH SESSIONS LIKE LAST WEEK AND TWO-DAY SHOWS?  “Every situation is different and every track is different.  You’re selling a different product week-in and week-out.  If you’re not doing a good job putting a product on the race track, they’re not gonna come.  You can’t expect that.  That’s on us as an industry, as a sport, whether it’s the drivers in the cars, the sanctioning body making sure that our cars are putting on a good show, Goodyear putting good tires under us that enable us to get side-by-side and put on good races, the aero platform, everybody.  The whole industry is working hard to make sure that we are putting the best product on the track, whether it’s at Michigan, Watkins Glen or California.  Every situation, every weekend is different and you can’t expect the same outcome or the same stage or the finish at all those different race tracks.  You just can’t.”

THE FANS WANT TO KNOW WHEN JUNIOR IS GONE HOW WILL FAN INTERACTION CHANGE?  “It’s the product.  There is no ‘I’ in any of this.  There’s no one person holding it up and if it is, then it’s a problem.  That’s a major problem if we’re all relying on one person.  It’s the product on the race track.  It’s the product and the environment of the weekend.  This is an event.  This isn’t one race.  This is an event weekend that you’re asking people to come camp and spend their hard-earned money and enjoy our sport of NASCAR.  This isn’t one driver.  This isn’t one team.  It isn’t one anything.  It’s an event for us all to have fun and enjoy a weekend and this sport that we all love.  It’s just as simple as that.”

WHAT ABOUT FAN INTERACTION?  “I think we have to get better in all those things.  Like I said, it was important for me to point out the things that I saw at Watkins Glen.  We all have seen the decline at some places and tracks.  Hey, it’s a performance-driven business.  If you’re not doing your job, it’s time to go somewhere else.  That comes from drivers or anything else.  Everything is driven off performance and anything in life.  There have been a lot of jabs thrown over the week and I guess that’s my comment for that.  There are different ways to judge all performance, whether that’s on the race track, how you build a program around your brand off the race track, how you provide support for your organization and everything else with sponsorship.  You can’t just go out and do a good job driving.  You have to be the total package – you’re attractive and it doesn’t matter.  If you do that, the supply is there for the demand.”