NASCAR Media Conference
September 9, 2008
JOSH HAMILTON: Good afternoon, everybody and welcome to this week's NASCAR teleconference in advance of Sunday's SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The SYLVANIA 300 is the first race in the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Chase encompasses the season's final ten races, in which the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is determined. Twelve drivers have qualified for the Chase, including today's guest, Clint Bowyer who secured the final Chase berth with a 12th place finish this past Sunday at Richmond.
Clint is in his 5th season in the Chase with 5,010 points; ten bonus points are added for each victory leading up to the Chase. Clint's ten bonus points came via a spring win at Richmond.
And we are joined now by Clint Bowyer, driver of the 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet.
Clint, you made it and now you go to a track, New Hampshire where you have your first series win last year. Must feel pretty good to be in this year's playoff.
CLINT BOWYER: Oh, absolutely. I'm really proud to be here again and in New York doing all of the media. This is where you want to be. Obviously you can't even have a chance to win a championship without being a part of the Chase, and we're part of it.
Q. You're looking at a couple of swings with momentum on your side, both making the Chase this year and you've also got the win at this track last year; do you look at that momentum as something to propel you this week, or is each race in this Chase going to be completely different and unique?
CLINT BOWYER: Oh, absolutely. Just having the confidence and knowing that you're a part of this Chase is a big, big momentum-booster.
But knowing now that we are in the Chase that we are going to New Hampshire where I won last year and we've run well there. Dover is a good track for us. These are two places where we can get things started on the right foot. And then going into Kansas the third race of the Chase, my home track where we almost won last year.
These are good tracks for me in the Chase and it's time for me to pull out all the stops and go for broke. Now that you're in this thing, you owe it to everybody -- you don't want to be the 12th guy. We were the 12th guy coming in, and I want to be able to make sure that we're in this thing for a reason and not just to ride around.
Q. Chasing and being chased is normal at this level; does each new big hurdle like making the Chase, does that bring on a new nerve set of its own, or does the routine prepare you?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, obviously you've got to get back in the swing of things. You've got to get -- you've got to keep your nose to the grindstone and stay focused and that's what's good about this Chase. It's only ten races long. It's time to see what you're made out of, pull out all the stops and go for broke.
That's what you're going after. You know what it's a championship -- the checkers are for records, that's what this Chase is about. But you've got to be able to run up front. If you don't, if you're not running in the Top-5 and winning races, let's face it, you're not going to win the championship and that's what it's all about. That's what the Chase is about is winning the championship.
Q. If you still get butterflies, is there a best way to swat away those nerve bugs?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, not really. They are going to be there. There's no way of getting around it. It's a big deal winning this championship and it's what you've worked the whole season for as a team. You know, that's why you get paid the big bucks, so to speak is to be able to handle these situations and leave your team to success.
Q. Kind of curious, entering last year's Chase and you were 12th, do you feel more comfortable at 5th? Is it easier because you're ten places ahead of everyone else instead of being at the back trying to Chase?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, you definitely do. We come into this thing a little bit better than we did last year. Last year all the naysayers: 'He's the only one in the Chase who has not won a race,' and now we have won a race this year and you can't say that about us.
We have struggled this summer. There's no way getting around. It we are not happy with the way we have run this summer but in the last two or three weeks, things have been looking for the better to catapult ourselves into this thing, and it shows me that, hey, we can pick the program up again like we did last year and make some noise in this thing.
Q. What do you remember about last year's fall race up there? Was that motivation to prove belong there? What do you remember about that race and when you thought, this is going to be your day?
CLINT BOWYER: You know, you've got to work hard and you've got to prepare yourself. The key to success is preparation, and we have been testing hard and we have been doing the things that it takes. You know, hopefully we are hitting our stride.
All it takes is just that little bit of confidence. I mean, you know, if we can go to New Hampshire, and last year, we won the race in New Hampshire and we never looked back. It was a huge momentum-booster and huge confidence boost for our team that propelled us to a good Chase finish, so hopefully we can do just that again.
Q. You're in the Chase, and of course you're happy, but thinking about things, is there anything in your mind you would like to see NASCAR change; be it the schedule, the Chase, the points, anything at all that maybe you would like to see some changes coming about?
CLINT BOWYER: There's no question about it, the schedule is a long grueling places, but how else do you get to all the places that we do and tap into all of the markets that we do?
I've worked a long time to get to this level, and you know, it's a very prestigious thing to be driving and making a living doing what you love doing. It's up to them to make it. It is what it is and you've got to, you know, make the best of it, and you know, I'm going to be a part of it no matter if it's ten more races added on or ten less races or whatever they change, you want to be a part of this sport, and it's a great sport to be a part of and hopefully we'll be a part of it for a long time.
Q. How does the team dynamic play into the Chase? You've got teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick, as well, in the Chase; are you guys still teammates at that point or once you hit the track, it's everybody for themselves?
CLINT BOWYER: I think you need to be more teammates now than ever. We need to lean on each other and learn as much as we can from each other week-in and week-out. You can't do this alone. You look at Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson last year running one and two, they were every bit teammates in the Chase as they there all season, and that's the way we need to be.
We need to work together and we need to test together and when we learn things we need to share and make our organization as powerful as it could possibly be. There's a lot of things in the Chase -- there are a lot of variables that could put you in or out of this championship hunt: Crashes, part failures, things like that. You never know what's going to happen.
So we've got to make sure that we have three equal chances at running for this championship, and the only way we can do that is working together and sticking together.
Q. I know it's a few weeks down the road but if I can get you to look ahead to Talladega, which kind of becomes an X-factor I think in the Chase every year because it's unpredictable. Just your thoughts on running at Talladega?
CLINT BOWYER: Yes, it is. You never know what you're going to have there. You could be leading the race, be a dominant car all day, and then get wiped out at the end. You get shuffled around and you're not always in that perfect, comfortable situation in a place like Talladega.
But there are a lot of short tracks that are that way, too. But definitely Talladega, you know, when they have the big one, you're involved with 20-car pileups sometimes. It's not always your fault or anything that you're doing, but you can get caught up in it.
You know, it's a little bit that way everywhere. You've just got to race as hard as you can and have a little bit of luck on your side, too.
JOSH HAMILTON: Thanks a lot for your time today, Clint. Thanks for joining us.
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