Bowyer Clan Hangs Tough In Wake Of Richmond
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Chris Bowyer looks every inch the product of America’s Heartland that he is. The Wrangler jeans are slung low, the hands go in and out of the pockets every three or four steps and the sun-weathered gray hair flops around in the Kansas wind like the weeds that sit just off the shoulder on I-35.
An easy smile defines his face as he walks the garages at Kansas Speedway. That is, it defines his face still.
The last four weeks have not been all that charitable to the tow truck driver from down the road in Emporia, Kan. He has had to endure a very, very public skewering of his son. He’s been unable to get news – sports or otherwise – about the world without hearing his son called a cheater, a liar, the person who is solely responsible for the sport of NASCAR being scrubbed of its remaining credibility.
Tapped on the shoulder and asked how he’s doing, Chris Bowyer extends his hand, shakes the hand extended in return and returns the question with that sincere smile.
It takes a bit of prodding to get him to talk about how he’s really doing but clearly not because he’s embarrassed or angry how his son – Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer – has been portrayed and treated since events at Richmond International Raceway a month ago.
In the true spirit of the Heartland, Chris Bowyer stays all positive and says, “Things are good.”
Chris Bowyer, flanked by a couple friends – one in a red polo decorated with the logo of Clint Bowyer’s sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, and the other wearing a black jacket over one of those garish short-track white T’s with a stylized No. 15 car blazing across its front – then gets down to the question at hand.
It’s the question about being the father of the driver at the center of the controversy at Richmond.
“This is professional stuff,” Chris Bowyer said. “This is not local racing. It’s alright to have critics, to be critical.”
He then took a deep breath.
“But there’s been some personal attacks that you have to take personally. But it comes with the territory.”
The younger Bowyer – eighth in points and 48 behind the Chase leader – is presumably in friendly territory this week. The infield at Kansas Speedway, which is located about 100 miles northeast of Emporia, is dotted with people wearing No. 15 Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing gear. Hats, T-shirts, sun visors.
Some are even wearing gear from the days when Clint Bowyer was building his career at local short tracks like the now-defunct I-70 Speedway in Central Missouri, or the still very active Lakeside Speedway located just five miles to the north of Kansas Speedway. All appear to be wearing the gear proudly.
Chris Bowyer is quick to point out that his son not only learned to drive at the local short tracks, he also learned to deal with critical, personal comments about his racing.
“This stuff,” he said of current accusations, “we went though this at Lakeside. You learn who your folks are and you learn who are not your folks.”
But nobody got on national television after races at Lakeside and ripped Clint for cheating by purposely spinning his car at Richmond in an effort to get his MWR teammate, Martin Truex Jr., into the Chase.
“Clint is doing fine,” Chris said. “We’re doing fine. You appreciate that people are still with you. This ain’t that big of a deal. We’ll get on.”
Chris Bowyer gave the Wranglers an upward cinch, said thanks for stopping by and continued his Saturday morning walk through the garages at Kansas.
The land is flat as a pizza crust in Central Kansas, but there still seems to be a high road.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment