Ford Performance NASCAR: Indianapolis (Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez Media Availability)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Saturday, September 7, 2019


Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Rush Ford Mustang — YOU TALKED A FEW WEEKS BACK ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO PUT TOGETHER A COMPLETE RACE. WAS DARLINGTON A STEP FORWARD? “I think Darlington was a snapshot of our capabilities. I have said it time and time again, when we race to our capabilities we are a single digit car. A lot of things go into play on that. I feel like we have raced inside the single digits several times this year and more often than not struggled to get the finish and manage track position. It is a new game. We are all learning it. Obviously there is a certain group of teams that have a little bit more speed than some do so far but that certainly helps manage all those situations, right? The facts are, we are up against a situation where we can make the playoffs and compete within. If we can compete to our capabilities I feel like we can go rounds in the playoffs. We unloaded a fast hot rod here but it is a new beast. This is a whole new deal. Going around here and not lifting in the corners and things like that, you are asking different things from the race car than you did in years prior. What those cars go through and how we have learned over time with lifting and letting the locker unlock and letting the car roll, easy in and hard off, make that straight away as long as possible, it is all out the window. It is literally crate racing where you have to keep momentum. These Xfinity cars on the race track right now, that has been a snapshot of what we are racing here for the last few years. I think it is definitely a challenge for everybody that has been in the sport a long time, whether it is a driver or a crew chief or engineer. The aero team too. When you are trying to work on yaw moments and change the yaw and it changing in the mddle of the corner and how that car goes through that yaw moment is a drastic difference for what we are asking out of the car now that what we used to.”

American Muscle

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE PRACTICES AND QUALIFYING WHICH YOU DIDN’T GET LAST YEAR BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER? “I think sometimes with me, myself and I don’t know if it is because of me and I have experienced some of it but less track time is usually a good thing for an organization like Stewart-Haas with such great people and great tools and a lot of experience in all facets of that. That is a good thing. Pocono is always a good testing ground, proving ground for what you will see at Indy. We were pretty decent there on speed and things like that. You are talking the same tire and the same situation. Speed and everything else, qualifying, I feel like I am fairly confident we will be fine there. It is the things you can’t control like an untimely caution or something like that. That is the difference where being in the situation we are in it could bite you. You still go out there and control the things you can control and make the car as fast as possible, qualify up front, get track position and stay in front of those guys. That is all you can control really. Anything else besides that, an untimely caution or something like that, so be it.”

LOOKING AHEAD TO VEGAS, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED WITH THE NEW RULE PACKAGE FROM WHEN WE WERE THERE IN MARCH THAT WILL MAKE THAT RACE DIFFERENT THIS TIME? “Everytime there is a rule change everything is all over the place. The teams are either hitting on it or missing on it, especially early in the year like Vegas was in the spring. That was pretty much the teams first shot at a 1.5 mile track and first stab as a team and organization. We have talked about it before. That point in the year you have made the bed. You are lying in the bed you made and this time around it seems like always when there is a rule change that by halfway through the season, usually by Charlotte, the gap is closed and everyone is honed in on where they want to be. That will be the case next week, no different than here.”

WITH THE PRESSURE THIS WEEK, WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE WEEK TO KEEP YOUR MIND AWAY FROM RACING? “Man, I went to the shop. It was a short week for everybody. I think everybody was pretty much junk on Labor Day. My Labor Day was less than eventful. I went down to the pool and kind of had some plans. I cracked open a beer and I sat there and looked at it for about an hour and was like, ‘Huh, that’s different.’ I will be damned if at about 5 o’clock I was staring at the back of my eyelids laying on the couch and she took the kids out for a walk and came back in and was like, ‘You up?’. I was like, ‘Yeah, I am good. What do you want to do for dinner?’ So my Labor Day was probably no different than anybody else. Tuesday I went to the shop like always. Wednesday we got some things done around the house, built a couple food plots for the deer and got that going, that was my off day. Wednesdays are kind of our Saturdays. Wednesday night I took Cash to the motorcross track and had a lot of fun there watching that little turd go around, it was pretty funny. It is funny how he learned the lingo. He says to me, ‘Man, I was ripping it brah!’ and I was like, ‘What did you guys say?’ But he learned the lingo. Then we came here and got ready to have a great weekend. It is a lot of fun to be able to come here. It is stressful. There are a lot of implications. It is important to me and my race team to be a part of the playoffs. It is important to our organization at Stewart-Haas Racing and certainly our manufacturer with Ford. It is fun though. It is fun to feel this way. You don’t have this opportunity to feel this way under this pressure and have that bearing on yourself every weekend. You just don’t. But it is kind of fun to test yourself and rise to the occasion and try to have some fun as well.”

DID YOU FIND A HOME FOR THE KITTENS? “Yes, thank God. There was somebody that showed up and took the kittens. My old man saved the kittens and then left, as luck would have it. The kittens have a safe and good home. Cash was very worried about that when he woke up and found the kittens were no longer there. All is well in the kitten world, thank God.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM TO GET THE WIN HERE TOMORROW? HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE WOULD IT GIVE YOU GOING INTO THE PLAYOFFS? “I don’t think a Brickyard win is about confidence or anything else, it is about the Brickyard and winning at Indianapolis. Hell, I don’t even feel welcome here half the time. If you find one of them yellow shirts or whatever. I don’t give a damn, we are here, and I would love to win here. I think it would mean the world to myself, my career, my family and our race team, your legacy or whatever the hell you want to call it. It is a big deal to win at Indy. It is something that everybody that races wishes they had an opportunity to even compete at Indy and be on these hallowed grounds. To be able to roll into victory lane would be ultra special for anybody in this sport and I am certainly no exception.”


DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang — LAST WEEK YOU HAD CONTACT WITH RYAN NEWMAN. WAS THAT JUST A RACING DEAL? “It was just racing. By the way, there was not contact. But yeah it was just a racing deal. It happened to be him but it could have happened with anyone. Newman, I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very aggressive driver. One of the most aggressive. People know that. Sometimes we race hard and sometimes you know what the limits are and sometimes we push a little bit hard. It was just a racing deal. I didn’t mean to spin him out. I didn’t mean to wreck him. But I wanted to pass him. Unfortunately he spun out but there was not contact and it was just racing like we do every week. That is part of it.”

HOW FAR ARE YOU WILLING TO GO TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BUBBLE AFTER SUNDAY? “With the points situation and the bubble and all that kind of stuff, at the end of the day we have to control what we can control. I can not control where Newman finishes. I can’t control where Bowyer or Johnson finish. The only thing I can control is myself and I have to try to put myself in the best position for stage points and to finish the race in the best position so we can make it. I can not control their results. I can not go out there to wreck all three of them to make sure I am going to be fine. That is not how it works. I am going to go out there and do my thing, and the team will do theirs and the pit crew. This weekend is big because it is the last one and there is more pressure and I think is more fun and there is more attention from the media and things. It is part of it. I try to have fun with it. I try to go out there to do my thing.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR A DRIVER FROM YOUR COUNTRY TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AND THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE THAT COMES WITH THAT? “It would mean a lot but to be honest I am shooting higher than that. To make the playoffs feels like a must. In the past I didn’t feel like I either had not done a good job or the team or the combination of both. I the past I haven’t had what I need to be able to compete in the playoffs. I feel like now, the team, even when the team hasn’t been the best we are still right there. Hopefully we can make it happen and once we are in it try to go all in and try to put some good races together to transfer to some more rounds. We are a young team and are still getting better and better. They are still getting to know me and I am still getting to know the new rules package and stuff like that. I feel like we have a lot of good things coming. We just have to be patient and keep working hard.”

“It would be something very cool. Making the playoffs would be extremely good but I am shooting higher than that. Like when I won a championship in ‘16, that was amazing and I liked it a lot but as soon as we started ‘17 I wasn’t thinking about it anymore. I was thinking about racing Cup. I try to achieve my goals and once I get those I like to go after the new ones. To be in the playoff is one of them but we have high expectations for things and hopefully we can make things work.”

DOES THE CONDENSED SCHEDULE THIS WEEKEND CAUSE YOU ANY CONCERN? “I like it. It reminds me of the old K&N East when we used to do everything in one day. Now it is in two days. I like it. I have fun with it. It is a little different but overall I enjoy coming to Indianapolis. It is one of my favorite race tracks and I enjoy coming here a lot. We are looking forward to having a good, fun, solid weekend. So far in the first practice I felt like we have a lot of work to do. The car hasn’t been exactly where we want to be but we made a lot of ground and I feel like we are walking in the right direction. Hopefully the second practice will be a good step forward. I guess I am shooting high. It would be amazing to kiss the bricks here. That is one of my dreams. This place has a lot of history and I feel like this team is capable of doing that, we just have to put all the pieces together.”

HAVE YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RELAX BETWEEN LAST WEEKEND AND THIS WEEKEND? “Yeah, a lot. Too much. Last week was a long week. Normally we travel on Thursday but this week we traveled on Friday, so we had an extra day. It was cool to stay home the entire week. We don’t have that most of the time. We had fun and I worked on studying what I have to do in Indianapolis and went to the shop a couple days and had lunch with the guys and did meetings. It was a good relaxed week. I feel like my body is at 100% to go out racing.”

CAN YOU DISCUSS THE NERVES AND FEELINGS YOU HAD THE FIRST TIME YOU WERE HERE? DO YOU STILL GET THOSE FEELINGS, ESPECIALLY THIS YEAR? “More than nerves I feel excitement. I feel excitement coming to this place and knowing the history this place has and all the amazing drivers and all the legends. This place has a lot of history and to come here and to just be able to race here is something really cool. It doesn’t end there. As a race car driver you always want more and I want to be successful in this amazing place and I feel like I have a team capable of doing that. Hopefully this weekend is a good one for us.”

HOW DOES WHAT YOU FACE THIS WEEKEND COMPARE TO THE HOMESTEAD WEEKEND OF 2016? “It is very interesting that you mention that because I have been thinking about that a lot. I even watched some of the videos of that weekend because it feels similar. It doesn’t feel the same, but it feels similar. Not just for making the playoffs but what that would mean to my team, sponsors and a lot of people. It is not the same but it is probably the closest I have been, position wise. Yes, it feels similar. I have had a lot of flashbacks from that weekend. I feel like I was able to handle that weekend extremely well. Like I said before, I feel like I work pretty well under pressure and I have been that way since I was racing go karts and was trying to find sponsors and win races to be able to continue and go to the next one. It feels good. It feels good to be here and good to be in this position and hopefully just like we did in 2016 we can end up the weekend on the good side of things.”

WHAT WERE YOU WATCHING OR WHY WERE YOU WATCHING? WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING FOR? “I had some videos on my cell phone of little clips. I remember in practice back in Homestead a car spun out in front of me and I barely missed it. After I missed that, I told my guys that we were going to win the championship. I was very confident and I knew what I wanted. That is just myself and I feel like this weekend has a similar perspective. We have three guys that we have to beat. It is just pretty similar. At the end of the day, we have to control what we can control and go out there and have fun. I have to do my part and the pit crew has to do theirs and we can go out there to do our best.”

YOU MENTIONED TEAM MEETINGS, WAS THERE ANY DISCUSSION IN THE MEETINGS ABOUT IF THE CIRCUMSTANCES WERE RIGHT THAT YOU AND CLINT COULD HELP EACH OTHER GRAB THE LAST TWO SPOTS? “No. I wish we talked about that but we didn’t. Clint and I, we are good friends and we know that if we can help each other we will but at the same time we will race hard. That is what we do. I know what I have to do and he knows what he has to do. We are going to go out there to do what we do best and try to beat each other but at the same time without trying to kill each other. Hopefully things work out in a good way for both of us.”

HOW MUCH WILL DRAFTING BE A FACTOR TOMORROW? “Drafting is going to be huge. We already had a little bit of a taste of that in practice and it is going to be huge. I don’t think that the racing is going to be like we have seen in the past in the Xfinity Series the last couple of years because we are going way faster in the straightaway and the corners. I think it will be interesting to see how things play out and the way that we can try to play with air a little bit. We will see how things play out. We are still learning about it.”

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