NASCAR Media Conference
August 15, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody. We welcome Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet Monte-Carlo for Richard Childress Racing. Clint is ninth in NEXTEL Cup points with four races remaining before the start of the Chase.
Clint, thank you for your time. Why don't you take us through a little bit of a recap of your season, some of the highs and lows, some of the keys that you can identify that has you in the position that you're in here as we close down closer to the Chase.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, you know, I mean, I think to date our season's been pretty good. I think we've been very solid week in and week out. We seem to - knock on wood - avoid those big hits in points, the real drastic days, catastrophic days at the track. Done a good job at that.
But we have struggled to get, you know, the top fives and obviously a win. We're still in search of our first win. That's high on the to-do list.
Right now, given the position we're in, we got to be a little bit conservative. We got to just be solid, make sure we're in this Chase, and then hopefully we can get our first win, if not before the Chase, definitely in the Chase.
THE MODERATOR: Looking ahead, you finished third at California Speedway last Labor Day weekend, sixth earlier this year in February. Obviously a race coming up in Michigan, a similar track. Looking ahead at the four races, do you have some confidence in the racetracks you're going to be racing over the next couple weeks?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I do. Michigan, we've ran well at Michigan before. Our mile-and-a-half program is really good. Got a lot of confidence going to Michigan and California.
Bristol, we probably, just like anybody else, have had good runs and we've had bad runs. Bristol's kind of a time bomb, so to speak. You never really know what you got. You leave there either with a smile on your face or mad at the world. Anything can happen at Bristol. A wreck can happen right out in front of you. You just get caught up in somebody else's wreck very easily. Bristol's going to be a little bit of a stressful time, but hopefully we'll be able to get out of there just fine.
Richmond is one of my favorite racetracks to race on. I think hopefully we'll find ourselves in the Chase after a really good run at Richmond.
The four tracks ahead of us, I got a lot of confidence in, and I see no reason in the world of anything standing in between us of getting in that Chase at these last four races.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions from the media, please.
Q. Do you think pretty much the guys that are in the top 12 now are going to be the ones that are there after Richmond, after California, or do you think there still might be some movement somewhere along the bottom?
CLINT BOWYER: You know, I really think that -- I mean, I really believe the ones in the top 12 right now are the ones that are deserving of it. They're the teams that have obviously -- obviously they're there for reason. They've ran up front, been consistent, done the things they have to do racing for points to be in that situation.
The 8 car has struggled. They've had a lot of tough breaks with failure, engine failures and things like that, that are somewhat out of their control. But nonetheless, they've had trouble.
Q. What is it about California that seems to suit your style in that you've had a couple pretty good runs here recently?
CLINT BOWYER: I just enjoy that racetrack. It's a very wide racetrack. You can move around. The groove is moving up. You really got to, you know, have a good balanced race car. I think that's key. It all starts with preparation in the shop with the guys. My guys on the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet have brought me good race cars every time we've gone out there.
Q. Last week your teammate, Mr. Harvick, I know he was angry at the time, said that Montoya seems to run over somebody every week. Would you agree with that? How would you rate Juan Pablo's driving in the Cup Series so far this year?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, he's an extremely good talent. Obviously he's proven that he has the skills that it takes to win in any kind of race car.
Just seems like he's came from a very prestigious racing series in F1. I don't know if he felt like he moved down to NASCAR. I know we in NASCAR certainly don't feel that way, but maybe he kind of feels that way. I don't know if he feels like people owe him something or anything.
I've had my run-in with him at New Hampshire. He really didn't see him at any fault. It's a hard thing. Obviously there's a lot of egos in any kind of sport, but sometimes egos collide. I think that's probably what happens sometimes.
Q. Would you say he's more aggressive than your average Cup driver or right in there with all the rest of you?
CLINT BOWYER: I think he's right in there with the rest of us. I just think that a lot of times he expects people to back down. I know my teammate is certainly the wrong guy to be expecting somebody to back down (laughter).
Q. You said you want to try and win a race. With these last four, trying to get a spot in the Chase, do you change your approach at all? Do you think you just want to go out there and get points or do you still push as hard every weekend and say if you win you get the points?
CLINT BOWYER: You go to the racetrack every week thinking you're going to win the race. I mean, if you didn't, something's wrong with you and you don't need to be racing.
We have to -- if we have a seventh-place car, we got to finish seventh with it and not try to push it in a win and crash. That's what I'm talking about with that. I mean, if it's two laps to go, we're running second, catching a leader, you know, 2/10ths a lap, I'm going for it (laughter). I haven't won a race yet, you know.
But this series is all about the Chase. If you're not a part of it come 10 to go, you're basically practicing for next year because nobody even hears of you. Media doesn't pay attention to you. All the attention and the exposure is on that Chase for the NEXTEL Cup in the last 10. If you're not, you're basically, like I said, practicing for next year.
Q. Does making the Chase kind of in itself make it feel like you won a championship?
CLINT BOWYER: It's definitely, you know, very prestigious. I mean, we're in really good company right now. I mean, there's obviously a lot of good cars in front of us, but there's a lot of good teams behind us. A lot of well put-together, very experienced team that we're ahead of. That's very gratifying to know that our team is beating them right now.
Q. Anybody outside right now that kind of scares you?
CLINT BOWYER: You know, I mean, not really. The cars that are behind us in points are cars that we've consistently outrun every week. That's very comforting. But, you know, the 8 car definitely has had some good runs here as of late. The DEI cars have run a lot better but, you know, he's had some bad luck. We've been fortunate to stay away from that.
Q. Is Junior kind of an example of what can happen in this sport, you have a bad weekend, sometimes it seems like things just snowball from there?
CLINT BOWYER: Oh, that's exactly right. I mean, he's a prime example of the little things that you don't see will bite you. I think they're no exception. I mean, definitely you got to cover all the bases.
We've had to go to the back two out of the last four races because we had engine trouble and we weren't going to chance it. We just went to the backup motor, went to the back. We qualified good both of those races, but wasn't worth taking a chance. We had to finish the race and we had to get the points. We elected to switch motors, went to the back, ended up getting a top 10. Maybe could have had a top five. But we got the points and we did what we had to do for the big picture.
Q. How much does it help you, the feedback you get from having two teammates?
CLINT BOWYER: It's huge. Obviously that's the reason you have multi-car teams. You just have that many more resources and things, when you have a question, to bank off of. I'm very fortunate to have two very heavy-credentialed teammates with winning races. Kevin Harvick, he's a little bit more my age. I'm a little bit more closer to him on a personal standpoint. So, you know, he speaks a little bit more my language about things.
But definitely Jeff Burton has been somebody, especially in the last year and a half, that's stepped up and been a huge, huge help to me and I've learned a lot from him on and off the racetrack. So I'm very fortunate to have two great teammates.
You know, again, I mean, it's all teamwork. The teams that use the resources the best to their advantage are the teams that are running up front. You know, our crew chiefs are working well together. All three of us drivers are working well and having fun. "Fun" is a key word there. You know, this is a business, and it's your job, it's your way of putting food on the table. But this still is racing. This is all what we love to do. It is still fun.
Q. How often do people ask you about the finish at Daytona this year?
CLINT BOWYER: It's slowly starting to die off (laughter). But definitely it's something that stood out this year. You know, you got to be known for something. Hopefully we'll be known for winning there someday.
You know, nonetheless, I guess if they're talking about you, it's good.
Q. When you watch it as a third person like the rest of us, is it different than when you were experiencing it?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, definitely. It was wild. But, you know, I've been in wrecks before. I know it wasn't near as bad as it could have been. Very fortunate for that, very lucky for that.
But, you know, NASCAR and everybody at RCR has done a really good job of making, you know, my life in that race car safe. I'm thankful for all the people and all the engineering that's went into those cars that you can do things like that and get out and it not be a very big deal.
Q. Must be a huge homecoming when you get to Kansas Speedway. You've worked hard to make sure your feet never leave the ground, forget where you came from.
CLINT BOWYER: I don't really feel that I've worked hard to do that. I think you either have good moral values or you don't. You know, I mean, fortunately my parents -- we always were racing as a family. We always had family values, always did things together as a family. You know, that's what's important to me. My mom and dad go to all the races. My brothers go to a lot of 'em. You know, I think that's important.
Racing back home, you know, grassroots racing, I love doing that. I love going back and interacting, seeing fans. It's comforting when you can go back, race at home, race against guys you used to race against, have a blast. You lose a lot of friends, but you make a lot of friends when you move and make a jump like I did. Still, I think it's important.
I don't know if you call it giving back, but just go back and help grassroots racing along. Kevin Harvick and I, I drug him to Blaney's track last night. We had a ball. He actually beat me and Stewart last night in a dirt race. His fifth dirt race ever. It was cool. It's fun to go back and do things like that and enjoy doing it. It helps you remember why you started racing.
Q. People from the outside would see fame and fortune at a young age. It sounds like your upbringing is help you deal with some of the challenges. Not the bed-of-roses some people think it is, is it?
CLINT BOWYER: No, obviously it's funny, my old man used to make my mow the yard all the time, and I hated it. Now it's actually enjoyable to be home long enough to actually mow the yard.
Q. You've made a lot of progress in a short amount of time in the Cup Series. What has been the biggest difference for you from last year to this year?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I think I've learned how to get to the end of these 500-mile races. I've learned to stay focused and be relaxed throughout the race. I think that's been a big part of it. And a good team. You know, everybody at RCR, our cars are running good. But the difference between last year and this year is last year we had two cars that would run consistent in the top 10 every week throughout the whole race. We would run inside the top 10, but towards the end I would make a mistake or we'd make a mistake in pit road, we wouldn't get the finish out of it. We'd have two cars in the top 10, and us in 20th.
This year we all run about the same. If we got top-10 cars, we show up to the track, we finish sixth, seventh, eighth. We're never very far apart in the running order.
On the racetrack, we run a lot. We've been running -- I remember Michigan, we about gave the boss a heart attack. At that point we was all laughing. It was 20th, and we were racing three-wide coming off of turn two trying to get back up through the field after pit stops. That's been a big part of it, is I think we in Jack Daniels Chevrolet have caught up to our teammates. Me as a driver, myself personally, have caught up to my equipment.
Q. Your team is probably one of the top teams, even though you've been discussed about changing drivers, adding, subtracting, you still haven't changed anything. Has that been a good thing for the team, to avoid a lot of the noise and whatnot that surrounds a driver changing teams?
CLINT BOWYER: Oh, absolutely. I think it's not only a driver, it's crew members, it's everybody. We're very fortunate to have a good owner at RCR with Richard. We don't have a lot of turnaround. We're an hour from Race City. People drive an hour every day of their lives to come up there and work on those cars because it's a privilege to work at RCR, work for people like Richard and Judy. I think that says a lot about our owner and our organization.
That's a huge help. We started this season in our Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, we were intact from last year. Everybody knew everybody. Everybody knew what to expect of one another. Everybody was on the same page. We didn't have a month's worth of racing getting to know each other, getting to know each other's language as far as the driver and crew chief are concerned. That the a huge advantage, I would say.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us today and we certainly thank Clint. Tomorrow we'll be doing another one of these at 10 a.m. with Kurt Busch. Kurt is currently 12th in the NEXTEL Cup point standings.
Clint, we'll let you go, get back to the rest of your day. Thank you very much for joining us. We'll see you out here in the west in a few weeks.
CLINT BOWYER: All right, man. Thanks.
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