NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sylvania 300
Topics: Sylvania 300
September 19, 2010
LOUNDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
KERRY THARP: We have our race winner for today's SYLVANIA 300, and the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, race win goes to Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 Cheerios Hamburger Helper Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing and he's joined by crew chief Shane Wilson and owner Richard Childress. This is Clint's third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, he's won here twice, three years ago he led the Chase off with a win here.
And Clint, talk about, was it dejavu? You had a strong car all weekend, and you had a lot of confidence in here on Friday, I remember, talking to you.
CLINT BOWYER: Just everybody, it reminded me so much of 2007. You know, two weeks ago, going into Richmond, your feeling the confidence level in our race team, in our equipment level, everything was good.
Shane built a brand new race car and we came here and we were fast right off the truck, and everybody had a lot of confidence, a pep in their step. And we showed it from the time we unloaded to qualifying, practice, we were one of the fastest cars here.
That's what it takes to run at this level, to be a part of that Chase, if we can go and continue to have as much fun as we did this weekend -- I know it's the key, I know it is to my success. When I'm having fun, I'm always performing at my best, and I think it showed this weekend.
We overcame some adversity and should some things go on there on the restart and them guys got around us. And I really thought I could run him back down and Shane come on and told me I needed to start saving fuel. And I knew in the back of my mind I needed to do that. And it's hard to run somebody down and save fuel at the same time, but he informed me then that I better be saving fuel and not be worried about running him down and we did that, and darned if he didn't run out of gas.
Just thrilled for General Mills, Cheerios and Hamburger Helper, 14 years in this sport and to finally win a race for them, we're very proud to have them as a sponsor and very proud of their support, not only our race team, RCR, but the start.
KERRY THARP: You move ten spots up in the points standings. You go from 12th to second in one race; you have to feel good about that, as well.
CLINT BOWYER: Absolutely. To come in here the underdog just like we did in 2007, to win the first race of the Chase and set that tempo, not only for the Chase but for our race team, our organization, all three of our cars were up front, and that's what it takes. You've got to be able to work together as we did this weekend.
We all three showed up a little bit different, and we found a common ground. We all honed in on that, fine tuned it from there, worked together. And if we do that for the rest of these races, you know, somebody at RCR is going to bring a championship trophy back home to this man.
KERRY THARP: Shane Wilson, talk about the performance of the team today and on pit road in particular.
SHANE WILSON: Just real good. We've had a lot of races where we've performed good enough to win the first two thirds of the race, so glad today to kind of finish one out. Circumstances allowed us to win this one but we were fast all day, and lost it a little bit there in the middle, in the blast run we were pretty good. Just proud of all my guys that worked through it. We are still a pretty new team and we are like 50-some-odd races into this deal as a group working, together and just proud of all my guys. They work hard and do what I ask them to do and just want to give them a lot of credit.
KERRY THARP: Richard Childress, certainly the resurgence of your race team this year has been one of the biggest stories in the sport, all three in the Chase and now you have Clint Bowyer winning the first race in the Chase. Congratulations.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Thank you. I'm just proud of everyone at RCR. These guys here just did a phenomenal job. Clint had a great car and for Shane to make the call, I didn't know how short we was on fuel.
I knew it was going to be close and as soon as he got into second place there, that's when they started telling him to slow down in between Dylan telling him, me telling him and Shane telling him that he had to save it. He did a great job being able to save fuel right there at the end. I think we had a really strong car, and it would have been a good race if it had not been on fuel mileage but the way it came out, it worked out and we won the race.
Q. Clint, you're going into turn three, about to get the white flag. Were you resigned to second place, and what did you think when all of a sudden Tony just basically topped?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, 40 laps before that, I knew when he started -- you could tell by Shane's voice that I needed to start saving fuel, and I did that. I thought I did. He told me I needed two laps, so I was thinking about four (laughing).
I was trying to save as much as I could. I was lifting halfway down the straightaway and not hitting the brakes until you're almost in the corner and letting it roll around there as long as you could before we picked up the gas. I saw the 11 coming and then you start worrying about, well, I'm not going to let him pass me. I said, I am go to go run out for it before the guy passes me again.
But you want to stay close enough that you're keeping pressure on him, but you also want to take care of business. That's something that we take pride with.
That's the first fuel mileage race all year long I think. Nobody wants to see those, you know, but I'm glad it worked out. We wanted to see double-file restarts and maybe no green/white checkered but I like the double-file restarts. Everything worked out.
I think this sport is as good as it's been, the racing's good. The fan turnout this weekend was awesome, and more importantly, I think this Chase is going to be as close as it's ever been. I mean, when the 12 seed wins the first race, all of those guys that have won races and everything else, it just shows you the level of competition in this Chase.
Q. Your reaction when Tony ran out?
CLINT BOWYER: Couldn't believe it. I could not believe it. And then I thought I was going to run out. (Laughter) As soon as you see him run out, you're wondering when it's your turn then. It happened in the burnout, thank God. (Laughter).
KERRY THARP: Good timing.
Q. You vaulted from 12th to second here in the points and obviously you talked a little bit about the feeling of dejavu to 2007. That year, you finished third. Now, do you feel like you have what it takes maybe to win the thing?
CLINT BOWYER: I know we have what it takes. We have the equipment. We have the race team. It's up to us to get it put together. Kevin Harvick has done a good job all season long of showing RCR's potential of getting it all, not just the start of the race, the middle of the race, but the finish. And you know, if we can match what he's done 26 races in, somebody at RCR can win this championship.
Q. Just to follow up to that, where this team was a year ago now to you sitting here at victory lane, first race of the Chase, can you reflect on that, and all of the hard work that went to getting to this moment?
CLINT BOWYER: Absolutely. It starts with the boss. You know, he pulled everybody in there, said that, "I'm not satisfied with running second." You know, nobody was. Everybody was down. It was a dismal year. We started from scratch. You know, he moved people around.
It's all about people. That's the one thing that he's taught me in this sport and this business is you're only as good as the people around you and he's always surrounded us with good people with Shane and with everybody on this race team.
You know, the management side of it, everybody knows the changes. We have talked about it pre-race and everything else. Those are all changes that led to a great thing this year, and you know, thanks for him spending the money and making it happen.
Q. On the outside looking in, it looked like a tremendous risk going to the end. Did you feel it was that big of a risk, and why was it worth it, considering Tony -- what happened to Tony and what happened to your teammate, Jeff Burton.
CLINT BOWYER: I'll go. You dominated the race. You owe it to yourself to go out there and try and win the race. We are the 12th seed going in, those are the kind of chances you're going to have to take to beat these guys in this championship Chase.
I'm glad that he did it. Did I think -- when I saw everybody pit behind me, I wasn't worried about fuel mileage, I was worried about them tires driving around me. But once I got going, our car was so strong on the long run that, you know, again, that's the chances you've got to take. That's the chances that people win races at this sport take each and every week, and I'm proud of him for doing that.
SHANE WILSON: The track position was so important, and if we ever got up front again -- you know, McMurray did, and you don't know that then. And all we need was more cautions like we had and it was going to be really close.
So we came in the 12th seed, and we talked about it before the race, it's going to allow us to race a lot looser than some of people. Now, going to Dover in second, I don't know if I'll make that call or not. (Laughter).
CLINT BOWYER: You'd better.
Q. Your guys were telling you to save fuel, Tony's guys were telling him to save fuel and Tony's guys were telling him they were telling you to save fuel and Tony comes on the radio and says he doesn't give two shits about saving fuel, he wants to win this race. How do you balance -- how do you balance the --
CLINT BOWYER: Quote, right? (Laughter).
Q. Yes. How do you balance the wanting it to win so bad, but, you know, knowing that the 31 is already -- you know, ran out.
CLINT BOWYER: You just have to. You've got to trust the people that are calculating the fuel mileage. He knows how closure. He told me the two laps, and it's not rocket science. When you're lifting at the flag stand where you were lifting maybe 200, 300 feet past that before, you'd better make up a lot of those to make up for two laps of wide-open throttle.
I tried to do that. I tried to do it as much as I could and keep the momentum through the corner to where I could keep a little bit of pressure on him to where he wasn't continuing to back up to me as I did. You know, that was the thing that I was trying to pay attention to is he kept telling me my lap times and it seemed like the 40s is the lap time that I could -- if I rolled the corner good in the middle, I was getting to the gas as late as I could and I was able to find that consistency in my lap times and I was able -- because he was backing up to me.
As I was backing up from the teens to the 20s to the 30s and then on to the 70s, he was, too, so I knew that I needed to get back to, you know, at least the 40s and have a shot at keeping some pressure on him. So it just worked out. It just as easily couldn't have, but damn glad it did.
Q. I guess Shane, you just sort of alluded to this, but my question, Clint, you've talked so much about you liked where you were, there's not been any pressure, there was no pressure over the final three weeks, you came in here after Jimmie the other day and you said, you guys just asked him ten questions about how much pressure he's are in, and nobody's asking me about any pressure; well, now you're second in the points. You're 35 out. Does that change now? Is there pressure now?
CLINT BOWYER: I don't know. You going to leave me alone next week? (Laughter) I hope you do. I had a lot of fun. It's kind of a relaxing weekend. I don't know if it's going to be that way from now on.
But I'm telling you, you know, just like we launched ourselves into the pressure cooker early, and you've got to be able to continue to have as much fun as we did this weekend. If we can do that, we can continue to have the success and run at this race.
Q. Do you still get a little jittery on the radio?
CLINT BOWYER: We were running out of glass.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Not Clint. Not Clint. (Laughter).
Q. I'm talking about long before you were running out of gas, when you start hearing, feeling vibrations.
CLINT BOWYER: I didn't hear a vibration. I heard him saying, "Save! Save! Back up!" And then Dylan and Richard and then back to Shane. They were kind of taking turns telling me to let off. I don't think they wanted me to run out.
Q. I'm talking way before the gas, I know Richard and Dylan and them were like, "Com on, Buddy, you can still win this, get your rhythm." Sometimes, can you handle the pressure of this? Sometimes it seems like they have to reel you back in.
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I sure as hell hope so. Thanks a lot. Can you?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Trying to earn money.
CLINT BOWYER: There's a lot of pressure in this Chase. Geez, thanks.
Q. Clint it was quite a contrast in images after the race when you were doing the big burnout and Tony is limping along besides you trying to finish the race. Did you notice that? Did you see him there trying to finish as you were spinning around?
CLINT BOWYER: You know, I did, and I was really going to push him across but I didn't know what to do there, so I just went on to celebrate.
You know, I hated that. You hate to see that for anybody. You can imagine the heartbreak of running out of gas with one lap to go. You don't wish bad things upon anybody. You're happy that you won the race and you leave it at that. You hate to benefit from somebody else's mishap. That's certainly part of racing. We have certainly won and lost races the same way and that's just part of this sport.
Q. All week you talked about how this felt similar to 2007, and you were the guy to come up and say, hey, Superman's cape looks a little bit shorter this time around. It could be he effectively argued that you called your shot in winning this race. What's it like to have this confidence, and then back it up, and then does it give you a little bit of an edge, because I'm sure your competitors picked up on it.
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I don't know. He was sitting next to me. I was just kind of teasing him like we normally -- that's me and Jimmie talking normal, just happened to have a microphone in front of me. That's when I get in trouble.
He's still the guy everybody is chasing. He's won four of these things in a row. You'd have to be a fool not to think he's not going to be the one down to the wire you're going to be racing for this thing.
But I have to tell you, this is as strong, since I've been in the sport, this is as strong a Chase as ever. I think the cars, the competition, everything, is so much closer than ever been. You don't have that dominant organization. When Jimmie was winning four races in the Chase, so was his teammates, they won the rest of them. It wasn't like, you know, there was a multitude of cars winning races like myself.
I mean, RCR, we didn't win a race last year. Now we've got three of us in it with a shot at the championship. Things are really shaking up to be an awesome Chase race and I hope that there's at least somewhere from three to six cars going into Homestead with a legit shot at the championship. That's what this sport needs.
Q. How cool is this for you being at home?
SHANE WILSON: It's definitely a big deal. Means a lot to me. Come here a lot of times, got to win a Nationwide race with Kevin, ran good here with Brendan in the Truck Series, but to win a race in Cup; family is here, came and watched the first Cup race here when Rusty won up in the stands, so means a lot.
Q. It's said that when fans like an underdog, and here you guys, at the beginning of the year, the plan is to make the Chase, and then the plan is obviously to move up in the Chase, and you've done it. So what do you tell your team? What do you tell your fans?
SHANE WILSON: Just, you know, it's been a good deal. We had goals going into this year, and one was to make the Chase, and another was to win a race.
So today is a good day. The last couple of weeks have been really good to us and now we have to capitalize on our opportunity and that's what -- as an underdog, that's what we are going to do, and we did it today. I really feel like, why not us? You know, Jimmie Johnson is good, but he's won four in a row, and the last four or five weeks, we've been right there with him. He's not that much better than us. We can do it and why not us.
Q. When did you feel like you got through to Clint to save fuel, because obviously there was all that talk going on on the radio. Were you confident you were getting through? Because certainly at times, the margin was -- he was closing in on Tony.
SHANE WILSON: Yeah, I usually don't talk that much on the radio, so I think he knew how important it was to save. I usually don't say but -- I probably just give him his lap time and the guy in front of him or ten-four. So I said that about a hundred times; I'm hoarse now.
It's good. It all worked out. We went through some adversity and I think at the end, he knew how serious I was about the gas.
Q. Can you talk about the 29's day? He seemed to be dead in the water and then all of a sudden he was Top-5, just like that.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, we had a really bad pit stop. He had a really good car in practice, Top-5. Clint showed to be the dominant car in practice and we felt he would run good, but we had bad pit stops and stuff. I can't blame him for coming on there and screaming. I screamed myself but I was a little kinder than he was. (Laughter).
CLINT BOWYER: I'm not the only one that screams, see?
Q. Just to follow up on a question I asked Clint about the reflections on where the team was a year ago versus now, and do you feel like every penny that you spent to try and improve this team was well worth it?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, we were spending the money in 2009. We was doing a lot of the right things but we just kind of went down the wrong path.
And Charlotte World 600, I stood on the trailer and seen how we were chasing our tails and how behind we were, and we were in a panic mode. I came back Monday or Tuesday, had a meeting with everyone, and started making changes and told them, you know, you have to build -- it's just like building a house; your foundation is a start of a good home and the foundation for a good race car is a good chassis.
We just started from there and all of us worked together and changed some people, got Scott Miller in place, and Kent Day in engineering and Mike Dylan is going a great job in the position he's in. It was all a team effort. I'm just a spoke in that big wheel that turns.
CLINT BOWYER: That would be the hub, not really a spoke. I would call that the hub. (Laughter).
Q. Bowyer showed up in New York this weekend wearing plaid and blue jeans and cowboy boots and reminiscent of you and your old buddy, and Stewart looks at him and said, what's up with the cowboy gear --
CLINT BOWYER: Called me hillbilly.
Q. Bowyer is kind of like the boy next door and the guy you want to go have a beer with. The typical NASCAR fan, weren't we looking for a guy as likable as Clint that we can have a beer with?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Mike Dylan, it's funny you say that, he came over to me in Winter Circle and said: This is the best thing for NASCAR, we need somebody like Clint Bowyer winning races and running for this championship. Because Clint, he came from the short tracks, the dirt tracks. He's worked and he's earned his way to where he is today. He's very fan friendly. The fans love him. It's what I think NASCAR needs is a new type of hero, blue jeans, plaid pants, whatever, it's good.
Cowboy boots, I've got mine on right now. (Laughter).
Q. Can you just talk about the range of emotions you felt, obviously for dominating so much and then maybe worrying about it slipping away? And now in light of pressure, do you feel additional pressure now that you're here to save NASCAR apparently, according to your boss? (Laughter).
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I didn't put it that way.
CLINT BOWYER: You know, there's a lot of adversity that happens each and every week, and certainly when you have the dominant race car the whole time, everybody is looking to knock that off.
And sometimes that's easy because he's out there and minding his own business and doesn't make adjustments to the car; you keep working on yours to be able to run him down, the caution comes out at the end, sets you up in position to roll on by.
Man, I tell you, that car, I don't know what happened to the carburetor. Had not had that happened all week end. Had to have piece of dirt in it or something. It was just popping, cracking, carrying on and wouldn't take off. The longer we ran, the better it got because I didn't have so much throttle response off the corner and wasn't spinning as bad. So it kind of worked in my favor after the first 15 laps or so.
You know, you hate racing guys as hard as you do at the first. My teammate, Jeff Burton, I am sure he was not very happy with me because I was racing him very, very hard, but I needed to stay in front of him, because about four or five laps, my car would just take off and you would run whoever was leading back down.
And then the fuel mileage thing at the end that's very nerve-wracking. Any time, doesn't matter what racetrack you're at, when you're trying to save fuel, run people down, keep people from passing you from behind, there's a lot going on, it's very busy and nobody really knows exactly when you're going to run out.
Q. So how did you keep your head?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I didn't. Ask Jenna.
Q. You did. You did much better. (Laughter)
CLINT BOWYER: You deserved that.
Q. When you look back at 2007, how much of your ability to stay in that championship hunt stemmed from the momentum you gained here with that one win, and can this one win here keep you in it for a certain period of time?
CLINT BOWYER: You know, reminded me a lot of 2007. That first win of the season, the first win, that was our first win as a group, too, just like it was here. That confidence, the momentum, everybody, not just for me, the crew chief, and all of his decisions, the over-the-wall guys, everybody has a major pep in their step right now and they are going to carry that through on to next week and if we can continue to ride that momentum wave through this Chase, we can have a shot at it just like we did in 2007. Going into the last race, we were really the only team that had a shot at knocking off a Hendrick car and I aim to do just that again.
Q. New Hampshire is your best track on the Chase statistically; are there others that you can win?
CLINT BOWYER: Look at my races last year, we were good enough to run, as bad as our cars were, if we were in it, we would have finished fifth or sixth.
You know, these are good racetracks for us. Dover is another one I've won twice in the Nationwide Series, but haven't always got the finish. And that's the thing about a race team, if we can get the finish like we run during the race, then we can win this championship.
Q. It's been a while since RCR has won a championship. Is this the best chance that you've had since then, all three guises are in the Chase, Clint wins, Kevin has a bad day and finishes fifth. Is this your best shot to get that seventh one?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's not just mine, it's RCR's. Everybody has worked really hard and put their selves in a position, get the cars in the Chase, and I think we are as prepared as we ever have been.
I felt in 2001, 2000, we just missed the championship by a few points, and 2001, I felt we were as prepared as ever, and I think we are as prepared now as we've ever been.
Q. Following up, you and Kevin and Jeff have all said that you thought this has been one of the best opportunities that RCR had at a championship, and it's been a long time since the organization has had one, but it's one thing to say that in the first 26 races and another one to put it into practice. How much does this getting a win, whether it was you or Kevin or Jeff, do for the organization just in general, whatever happens in the future?
CLINT BOWYER: Hey, a win helps everybody. It doesn't just help my team have confidence. It fueled the fire for me teammates. They know that I just won a race, and it doesn't matter who you are or how good a teammate you are, when you see a teammate win in your he request equipment, it pisses you off and you want to go out and perform at that level just like he did.
It did, Jeff and I, when Kevin won. Obviously team work is key to success, but at the end of the day, that's fuel for the fires for them, everybody bit as much as it is for me.
Q. I think I interviewed you when Richard first put you in a car, and you were just about as confident and you didn't sound much different than you sound right now. But how much has changed for you -- what's changed most for you since that time that he first picked you up?
CLINT BOWYER: It's nothing today. I tell you, that first ARCA race, driving for Richard Childress, that was sheer excitement. And being in the Chase, that's sheer excitement. Winning the first race of the Chase, same exact thing.
It's just been fun. RCR is like family. I know pretty much everybody there, in the engine shop; I'm there every week. Richard he gets on me all the time, he was like, "You been down in that engine shop?" And I said, "Remember when you was there last week, I was there." Might have been working on my dirt stuff but I was down there (laughing).
Just people, it's a very warm atmosphere. He's always had that at RCR. It's always been that way. It's how he treats his employees and how the employees treat each other. I mean, all my friends that I hang out with are RCR employees whether they are my teammates or people in the shop. That's just what we do, you take your friends to the racetrack.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations and good look at Dover.
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