Ford Performance NASCAR: Las Vegas Playoff Media Day (Clint Bowyer)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Thursday, September 12, 2019


CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Ford Mustang

American Muscle

YOU SAID AFTER LAST WEEK THAT BEING IN THE POSITION WHERE YOU ARE FIGHTING TO GET IN THE PLAYOFFS ISN’T FUN RACING. WHAT CHANGES NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS? “Fun. I have always thought that. Over my career of making these playoffs, it comes at a good time of year for me. Those summer months are long, grueling and they drag on. You needed a wake up call and shot in the arm. For me, that is the playoffs. New purpose. You are always racing for that win on any given Sunday and that championship all year long in the back of your mind. Now it is real. I like this new format, three-races, three-races, three-races baby! It isn’t 10, screw the rest of em. You have to survive three races, win one of these three and you are automatically onto the next round. For me, focus factor and everything else, it is a good thing for me.”

HAVE YOU LET GO OF RICHMOND YET? “I don’t think you ever let go of those that were close. I should have moved him and won the race for myself and the team. I didn’t grow up racing that way, you know what I mean? I didn’t learn racing that way with Mark Martin or your peers. Today’s day in age, that is kind of the way it is. Not necessarily your character or anything else as a driver, it is just the way the racing is. You flat can’t pass ‘em. I was three-quarters of a second faster than him and got to him and just rode. I had a window of about two laps there to do something and I kept thinking that I was going to wear him down like always and all it did was wear my stuff out and I was done.”

“Of course you do. But it was also a learning moment for me. I think it was a learning moment for all of us. We all came back from the competition meeting as a wakeup call for us. Those short tracks are my good tracks. I was a lot faster than him and you just knew. It never dawned on me in a million years that I would struggle passing him. I was so much faster. I thought I would catch him and roll right by him. That was done. As soon as I got to him, the air deficiency of being the second car, you are a little tighter but I was so much better than I thought it would be fine. Within two laps at Richmond I was junk. I wore out the tires, now I am looking in the mirror to see who is catching me. In a matter of five laps my mindset went from winning to having to block the guy behind me and manage this deal to get the best finish possible. We didn’t even finish second, we finished third. I had to let the 22 go because I knew that if I got side-by-side with him that Kevin would pass me too and I would end up fourth. It was a learning moment for me for the rest of the season.”

HOW HARD WILL IT BE FOR YOU TO CHANGE YOUR MENTALITY IN THAT MOMENT NEXT TIME? “I will fix that problem next time. For sure. It won’t be hard. It is fixed.”

WITH THE PACKAGE THIS YEAR IS SEEMS LIKE IT TAKES TWO CARS TO PASS ONE, SO IF YOU WOULD HAVE LET THE THIRD PLACE CAR CATCH UP COULD YOU HAVE MADE THAT PASS? “No. It is just an aero thing. There is a huge aero deficiency behind cars and those short tracks, the 750 tracks, it is a struggle, it is. It is the same for everybody but it is extremely hard to pass and the restarts and things like that. To your point, when a car is side-by-side you can capitalize with a run or whatever else but no, if you are the guy sitting there on the inside all that does is open the window up for whoever is behind you to put you three-wide and pass both of you.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT GETTING SOME MOJO BACK. WITH YOUR RECENT SINGLE-DIGIT FINISHES, IS THAT SOMETHING THAT CAN SUSTAIN YOU? “Momentum is confidence. It is confidence in your decision making and your driving and everything. Your decisions for the setup and your decision for passing and stage points that are so important. You have to have that momentum and confidence in your mind. That is not just the driver, that is the crew chief making those calls. That driver is bitching about being too loose, how do I attack that? With this package that we have, it is a tricky situation because maybe you will be loose in and tight off, that is a hard thing to fix. You have to go to work and as a crew chief, try to fix that as best you can, put a band-aid on it for the driver. The driver in the car, look at those restarts last week. Confidence is everything but you can get overconfident and overstep the bounds pretty darn quick as we all learned.”

DID YOUR CAR ALMOST GET TOWED TODAY? “So Brett told me to park where I parked and it clearly said, “Compact Car”. Last I checked the Ford Expedition was not a compact car. In his defense, it was the only car within 78 stalls, but I had security knock on my door this morning and I was like, ‘Oh God, what did we do.’ I started rewinding the night in my mind and didn’t think we did anything. It was the car’s parking location. So I made his ass go and move it.”

ARE YOU NERVOUS ABOUT ALL THIS OR JUST READY TO GO HAVE FUN? “I am nervous about this day and how I am going to get myself out of this seat and out from in front of all you. Hell no, this is fun! We are in the playoffs, you know what I mean? Last week we were pooping our pants, man! Now it is real. We have accomplished it and we have a championship to go after. It is as simple as that. Why on earth would you be nervous about this. We have raced for the last month-and-a-half nervous. We are used to it. All these other guys, the pressure is back on them now. It is a new life for our race team and we are going to go after it.”

DO YOU THINK THE PRESSURE OF DOING WHAT YOU GUYS HAD TO DO HELPED? “Yeah, absolutely. It definitely prepares you for a playoff scenario. And look how well we performed under those pressures. Arguably it was some of our best string of races all year long. Single digit finishes. If we can continue to ride that wave it will go to the next round. I believe that. If we can race the way we have the last few races we will go to the next round and continue our quest for the championship.”

HOW CONCERNING IS IT FOR YOU NOT HAVING PLAYOFF POINTS? “I just had a handful like I was positive and everything good and you just sent me right back down to the dirt. I am going to spin your negativity into a positive thing. It is a new life. A new shot in the arm. A new opportunity at stage points that we maybe missed on throughout the course of the year. Momentum. Confidence. The wave we are riding. We have learned a lot. We have prepared our self in the last month racing under these conditions and I think that prepares you for the playoffs. We have to continue our mindset. Continue the things we are doing. Continue to improve our cars. We have learned a lot about this Ford Mustang this year. I think Kevin’s performance has shown that and proved that for our Stewart-Haas Racing stable. I think Aric and even Daniel – hey, that shoe could have been on the other foot for us. I feel bad for Daniel. We were at the competition meeting Tuesday and you are looking over there at him and he is dejected and frustrated and that damn well could have been me sitting over there pouting. He is in a good situation. He is in good equipment and he could just as easily go out and win run of these races no different than me or Aric or Kevin.”

AS A TEAM LEADER, WHAT HAVE YOU HAD TO DO DIFFERENT THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR? “Your decision making and everything else, the hubs around that, confidence and all that is directly dependent on your equipment. Last year, let’s face it, the Fords were the heat. They ended up winning the championship, all four of us won races at Stewart-Haas Racing. Life was good. It has been a struggle this year. My strong suit is trying to make sure that everybody is enjoying themselves in those tough times and trying to find some light in the dark tunnel to where you can get to the end of that thing. That has always been something that I can do, not only for my race team on the 14 but the organization wherever I was at. I think that is important. This business is so serious and so stressful and emotional, everything that goes with that. You are away from your family, your kids are growing up, you are pissed off that the car isn’t running good and you have to be back at work at 7 am to get the car ready. There is nobody that works harder than those crew guys, in any profession. I am telling you, anything. We watch quarterbacks and baseball pitchers, I will put a crew member in NASCAR up against any job in any profession there is out there. They work their asses off all weekend long and Monday morning they are back in that shop. They are constantly away from their family, trying to keep a marriage and family together. It is a tall order for those guys. A driver is no exception. We are all busy in this sport as you guys are in the media, we all live this. 38 weekends a year is a grind on everybody.”

SOUNDS LIKE YOU THINK THE HARD PART IS DONE NOW AND YOU ARE READY TO HAVE FUN: “I am ready to win. They pay us to win races. I want to win Las Vegas. That would be awesome. And get the hell out of here before we die.”

IN TERMS OF PREPARATION FOR THIS RACE, NONE OF YOU HAVE RUN GOING INTO THE NIGHT TIME HERE: “You know, I think with our sport right now with the aero package and horsepower and everything that we have, it will be a better race because of that. We tested here in the spring and that was the first time I ever had a snapshot and got my feet wet with this package and I can tell you the night before when the grip was high in the race track and it was cool, it was wild. We were drafting and putting on a hell of a show for nobody in the grandstands. It was just us. We all left that thinking this year was going to be crazy. Flip that over to the next day and it was hot and slick and we weren’t bunched up in a pack. We had to handle and had that aspect going. That night before in cooler temperatures you had to make that baby as slick as possible and drafting was a premium. I think it will be a better race because of the night.”

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