Toyota NSCS Daytona Media Day Clint Bowyer Notes & QuotesBy Official Release
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Do you feel pressure to repeat your success from 2012?
“We had a great year last year. Right now in 2013, the year doesn’t mean anything. We’ve got to prove ourselves all over again and it’s even harder this time. Nobody expected us to do that. We didn’t have any pressure and we didn’t have any expectations. We just went out and had fun and enjoyed every week and just naturally or effortlessly had success week in and week out. It is different now. We’ve got expectations — not from you guys (media), not from the fans, but from within. We expect to do that and I’ve been around long enough to know that can be a danger. Certainly, we’re going to work hard. I like the things I’ve seen. I like the testing. Daytona — our car was fast and more importantly we went to Charlotte and intermediate race tracks and had good speed right off the truck. The very first time I was ever in a car — one of the Gen-6 cars on an intermediate track was at Charlotte and we went right to the top of the board and was there the whole morning session. I was like, ‘Put it back in the box and let’s go racing.’ That showed me that hopefully we picked up right where we left off.”
How important is being in good physical condition to drive a race car?
“You have to be mentally healthy — that’s what you have to be. You have to be sharp and you have to be focused and certainly physical conditioning is a big part of that. There’s no denying that. I’ve never been tired in a car. I’ve certainly been tired running, as a matter of fact I was tired at Phoenix — that was a hell of a run. I could not keep that pace up for 13 miles. I don’t have trouble turning the steering wheel, it’s not that heavy — it’s power assist. Working out and stuff like that — there will be a time. When I get that age I will work out. I’m going to enjoy myself now.”
Would you run the 24 Hours of Daytona again?
“Yeah, I would. It was fun — I’m a Toyota guy and I love driving my Camry, its fast — it’s extremely fast, but it’s not every day you get to drive a Ferrari. That’s a rich man’s game. The 24 Hours of Daytona is a rich man’s game. There’s a lot of guys with Rolex’s on that weren’t won — let’s put it that way.”
Do you feel like you are in the top tier of the Sprint Cup Series?
“I am just super proud to be a part of this sport. Coming off such a great year — it’s definitely a building year, it’s exciting and it’s challenging. If we can prove that all over again then we’re one of the boys. There’s a great deal of pride that goes into that and you have to own that. You have to be able to back it up and make it happen. If not, it’s not valid in my opinion.”
Did you expect to be as competitive as you were when you joined Michael Waltrip Racing?
“I had no idea what I was getting into. I had an idea of what it could be, but certainly to see all that play out the way it was presented and the way it was sold — the way it was supposed to work. It was like you wrote it on a piece of paper and held it up — these are the bullet points and this is what’s going to happen and this is how it’s going to happen so sit back and watch. That’s exactly what happened.”
Do you feel Michael Waltrip Racing is one of the strongest teams in the series?
“I would think so because success is the only thing you have to go off of — that’s the barometer in this sport. Right now, we were. Who’s to say that a month from now we could be tail end or we could be leading the thing. You just never know and that’s what we love about this sport. Unless you work hard or unless you have huge amounts of depth in your organization and your manufacturer — that’s one of the biggest things is the manufacturers are a big part of this. This car is going to be huge for this sport for that very thing. The manufacturers have always been a big part of this sport, but in the last few years before this new car, you never heard you guys (media) talking about it. You never heard the impact that they have in this sport — the engineering background that they are bringing to the table for all of us to go out and win races. I think you’re going to see a lot of that. You’re going to hear a lot more about it. It’s not going to be, ‘Clint Bowyer won the Daytona 500.’ It’s going to be, ‘Toyota and Clint Bowyer won the Daytona 500.’ I think it’s due in part to this car getting back to that roots of what this sport was founded on — that identity aspect of the manufacturers within the sport.”
Are you worried about a jinx of finishing second in the points and then having a bad season?
“People call it a jinx — whatever. Here’s the thing, any kind of sport — pick the Olympics. A guy trains his whole life, especially the years leading up to it and finishes second. That’s a huge let down. We had nothing to be ashamed of to finish in second place. There was just one thing after another happening at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) last year with great things. We won races with a team built from scratch over the off-season. Went into a team that had never been proven before and went out and proved a big point. We finished second in the points and had one bad weekend over the whole year — truly had one bad weekend that just sucked. I’ll take that any day. I will sign up for that right now.”
How has your relationship been with Brian Pattie?
“(Brian) Pattie (crew chief) is exactly like I am — a racer. Dedicated and just a natural racer that loves to race. He’s passionate about it. He works hard for it, but he has a lot of fun. I think it created an environment within our race team that we were able to just effortlessly go about our job. It was fun. We were out having fun and having success and it was like, ‘Hell, this is easy, let’s go win a championship.’ You really, truly had the mentality rolling into the Chase because it was just like the sky was the limit. We were able to accomplish whatever we wanted to and we worked hard for it, but a lot of it came pretty natural because of our communication and we had a pretty common communication going right off the bat as soon as we went to Disney World. It just fit and you knew right away it was the best relationship you’d ever had and you always hear how important it is to have driver and crew chief communication. It was the first time in my career, I was like, and ‘So this is the way it’s supposed to be.’ Not only that, it’s not just Brian, it’s the engineering staff behind him, the manufacturer behind him — it’s the whole package and I’m pretty fortunate to have that right now.”