Toyota NSCS Las Vegas Clint Bowyer Notes & QuotesBy Official Release
TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Clint Bowyer – Notes & Quotes
Las Vegas Motor Speedway - March 7, 2013
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How has today’s test been, and how has the start to the season been?
“It’s good. The car is good. Everything is very, very good. Our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota — it’s been fun. It’s always nerve wracking over the off-season when you have a good year like we had last year to — in hopes that you get the year started off halfway decent. It hasn’t been great, but it’s certainly been good. Test was uneventful today — which is a good thing. Looking forward to the rest of the week.”
What will the speeds be like in qualifying and is a new track record possible?
“I’m thinking somewhere in the 300s — probably not. I don’t know. We were talking about that — and man they seem fast. The car really, really rolls through the center of the corner just extremely fast from what you think. The hardest thing is we’ve been to Daytona, and then we’ve been to Phoenix, and then you come here and it’s so much faster. You want to, initially your thought is, ‘Holy cow, these things are fast.’ And, then you come in here and they’re not record speeds yet. But, I would say I’d bet you — I was looking at the board there and they’re getting faster and faster. It’s pretty cool outside. It keeps getting cooler and cooler. Who knows, if it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I think with the cloud cover and stuff you might see a new track record.”
How much did you learn today?
“I learned a lot today and I learned to answer your first question about my test. It was very well. You learn bits and pieces, but these tests anymore. It seems like back in the day when I first started, you would come to a test and like — your input was really what they were looking for. And it still is, but it’s changed so much. The engineers, they’re looking at their computers and all their data. You come to these tests. You collect as much as you can. You let them guys go to work. They’ll go back to their rooms tonight and scramble on that computer all night long and lo and behold, you’ll come back with a better set-up and be even happier tomorrow. It’s just amazing how far the engineering side of the sport has come.
Truthfully, it’s just uneventful. There were good fans in the Fan Zone and stuff like that. It was good to see that on a test day. Just looking forward to the race. This is always a great race. It’s fun — it’s not every day in our schedules that we can actually take some time in between races, have a road trip and enjoy some of the surroundings. It’s been fun this week to drive over and see some of the country that we don’t normally get to see. Other than that — it’s all good.”
Does seeing what happened to Denny Hamlin impact what you say?
“You know, I’m going to shoot you straight. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. You guys included. We’ve got to — this is an important time for us. We’ve got a great thing going with this Gen-6 car. Our manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on this race car and we’re all proud of it — NASCAR included. Anything is going to take time. Anytime you make something — completely start over from scratch – and do things to make your program better, your sport, or whatever you want to call it, it’s going to take time. It’s a work in progress. You’re not just going to start the very first race out with something new. No different than I did with a new race team. We didn’t go to Daytona last year and win the Daytona 500. Throughout the year, just kept getting better and better and improving on our program and by the end of the year we almost had a shot at winning the championship. The best days for this car are yet to come. And, it’s always going to be that way, it doesn’t matter what you do.”
How indicative will this test be for competing at 1.5-mile tracks?
“You know, just the first few races — this West Coast swing, yes it’s important. It’s so important to get that momentum and the points base established. We’ve already seen teams struggle the very first two races and get themselves behind. If you look, these points are hard to accumulate and you have two bad races in a row — that’s a month of really solid, really good runs to get yourself catapulted back up to where you need to be. Not to mention — just the momentum, the physiological part of it. This is a mental game and if you get yourself beat up early, sometimes you don’t ever get out of it as a group. The neat thing about our sport — they’ve done a really good job the first four or five races of being completely different. We’ve got a restrictor plate track, a short track, intermediate track, go to an even shorter track when we get to Bristol. When we get home from Fontana, that’s when you really got an idea of where you compare to your competition and the areas you need to work on.”
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing (continued)
Does Las Vegas feel faster than Daytona?
“Yes. Absolutely. You feel ‘G’s’ here. I’ve never really said that. Today I was like, ‘I think I can feel side G’s in the corner.’ You’re rolling. You’re just praying that them little black things that are holding you to the track don’t fail you now because it’s going to hurt real, real bad. That’s when it really amazes me how good those Goodyear tires are. I’m telling you, that’s a beating right there. You’re asking a tremendous amount out of them in the center of (turns) one and two at a track like this. Somehow and some way they hold up.”
Where do you stand mentally at this point if you’re 20th or 25th in points?
“You’re done. Just call it off for the year. You’re already panicked. I’ve been there. Whatever the case may be – it may have just been you just got caught up in two bogus crazy things that happened. But, none the less, you’re panicked. Here you are, your peers, the guys that you’re going to be racing for a championship with have had two good runs. You can see those smiles on their faces. They’re happy-go-lucky. And your guys are miserable. Somehow you got to get that train turned back around and pointed in the right direction.”
How much information do you need from all the technology being used at the track?
“I’m kind of scatterbrained anyway. So, overload of information is not a good thing for me — I’ll just be worse. (Brian) Pattie’s (crew chief) done a good job of relaying the right information to me that I need to know to do my job and I let him do his. I don’t know if remove is the right word, but certainly your job title has changed in a big way. Sometimes it hurts me to know exactly what’s in the race car because it forms an opinion and I don’t know that you need to be opinionated in today’s world. They pay us to race on Sunday. And that computer can’t do that for you. You’ve got to be able to be aggressive when it’s time to be aggressive — you know make moves and get that thing to the front. The computer won’t do that.”
Do you know how many cars your team has built?
“I don’t have a clue. I haven’t been there. We’ve been out here on the West Coast. I haven’t been home in a long time. Basically, two months. January sucked – I wasn’t really home at all. So, I have no idea. I think they have enough. I sure hope so. They unload fast — the ones we do have. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. The one thing that we’ve been able to capitalize on, knock on wood, is we haven’t torn a lot of them up. Some fender damage here and there. That’s how you capitalize on that. Carl (Edwards) — how many did he wreck – and then turned around and won. So, I don’t know if that even matters. The only one that matters is that next bullet going in the chamber and certainly he had a good one last week. Hopefully, we’ll have one this week.”