Bowyer And His One-Liners Are Back, Baby

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 27 2018

Clint Bowyer went old school when he celebrated his Cup victory at Martinsville Speedway Monday – with a beer to his lips. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – When Tony Stewart tapped Clint Bowyer to succeed him in the No. 14 at Stewart-Haas Racing it really didn’t surprise anyone. After all, they are cut from the same cloth – old school racers.

Bowyer viewed it as team owners Stewart and Gene Haas giving him a “fresh chance, fresh blood.” Yet victories continued to elude him. Oh, he came close last year in his first season with SHR with three second-place finishes, but he desperately wanted a victory lane photo with his children.

He didn’t want them to go through life without knowing what it felt like to hold up a No. 1 finger for those precious victory lane photos. That special celebration finally came on Monday at Martinsville Speedway; that historic, tough short track where Bowyer readily admits he was a “duck out of water” the first time he visited it and in 2012 “I really screwed up and pissed a lot of people off.”

Bowyer snapped a 190-race winless streak in Monday’s snow-delayed STP 500, defeating Kyle Busch by 1.146 seconds. He led 215 laps in the 500-lap race. That’s more laps than he had led in his last 159 starts. His ninth career victory made him the first driver to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race with all three manufacturers. His first career victory came in a Chevrolet. He then won in a  Toyota and Monday’s win was in a Ford.

Statistics, however, weren’t foremost in Bowyer’s mind on Monday. After all, he’d won his

Clint Bowyer said he was going to strap the grandfather clock he won for winning at Martinsville on Monday to his wife’s SUV and take it home Clampett style. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race since October 2012 and he was ecstatic. He spun his Ford and smoked its tires before he reached turn three on the cool-down lap, hugged his crew after exiting the car on the frontstretch, and bolted into the frontstretch grandstand to share champagne and beer with the fans. And he didn’t just share the alcohol with them, he sprayed them with it and everyone loved it.

Stewart sent him a text before the race, telling him good luck, “you know what to do, be patient, let the race come to you.” Haas was the first person to call him on his cell phone when he was in victory lane. And when he finally charged into the infield media center with his family, crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and SHR Vice President of Competition Greg Zipadelli sat back and enjoyed their driver’s unbridled happiness. His son, Cash, sat on his lap for part of the interview, but then left to join his mother and sister who were standing in the media center.

Bowyer’s reaction when he sat down in front of the media reminded me of a phrase from a Tim McGraw song when he shouted “Hot damn!” And the hyper Bowyer never let up, letting the one-liners flow that continuously drew laughter.

“It meant a lot to me to be able to put it all together at this track because it’s one that I feel like I’ve lost way more than I’ve ever gained here, and I wanted that damn clock,” Bowyer said about Martinsville’s grandfather clock which has become one of racing’s most cherished trophies. “I’m going to ratchet strap it to my wife’s SUV.  We’re going to be the Clampetts with our trophy ratchet strapped to the roof of the SUV, but it’s coming home.”   

Make no mistake, racing is about winning and it’s always enjoyable when the victories come on a regular basis. But the team one is with is also important and Bowyer has finally found a “racing home” where he feels comfortable.

“This is a fun team. It’s like the old days,” said Bowyer, who has now secured a position in the playoffs. “It’s finally feeling right.”

And for Bowyer, that means racing is fun again.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 27 2018
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