Monday, October 1, 2012

Why I Love NASCAR: Clint Bowyer by Chief 187™

 Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR
Clint Bowyer is a driver who has worked hard in his career and hasn’t found the right fit with a team, until now.

Driving for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) since the beginning of the 2012 season, Bowyer has raced his way into the Chase with 17 top-10s, seven top-fives, and two wins. He currently sits fourth in points after the third Chase race from Dover.

Before MWR, Bowyer drove for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) experiencing decent success but never earning a championship.

Bowyer began his career in competitive racing for the first time when he was five years old running motocross. From the mid-1980s into the early 1990s he earned several championships. After turning his attention to street stocks in 1996 Bowyer found new success. In 2000 and 2001 Bowyer won Modified Championships throughout his native Kansas at places like Thunderhill Speedway, Lakeside Speedway, and Heartland Park Topeka.

NASCAR entered Bowyer’s life in 2002 when he started racing the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series. He was named the 2002 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Midwest Champion because of another Modified championship at Lakeside Speedway. In addition to the Modified title that year, Bowyer’s first turn on asphalt propelled him to earn a Late Model championship at the I-70 Speedway in Odessa, MO.

By 2003 Bowyer was starting in the ARCA series where he finished second in his inaugural run at Nashville Speedway. This led to a fortuitous turn for Bowyer who dazzled Richard Childress during that run.

Childress, the story goes, called Bowyer after that strong run at Nashville and offered him a ride. Bowyer thought it was a joke and hung up on Childress. Childress called back, the offer stood, and the two men planned a future together.

The 2004 season was an auspicious one for Bowyer who began sharing a Nationwide Series ride with Kevin Harvick for Childress. That same year Bowyer bounced around to run for Kevin Harvick Incorporated (KHI) in the NNS as well. He even ran a couple of times in the Camping World West Series.

Bowyer’s finishes were good. In his first full season – 2005 - in the NNS he came in second to Martin Truex Jr. who won his second consecutive championship.

In Cup Bowyer debuted in the RCR No. 33 car in April 2005. He placed 22nd. But, six months later Childress announced that Bowyer would be placed in the No. 07 car in 2006.

In his freshmen year in the Cup series Bowyer had a good showing, but he lost the Rookie of the Year title to Denny Hamlin.

By 2007 Bowyer won his first race at the New Hampshire International Speedway for the Sylvania 300. He was strong enough to race his way into the season-ending Chase.

The following year Bowyer won his second Cup race at Richmond. At the same time that season Bowyer was running both the Cup and Nationwide series and stringing together a great season in the second-tier competition. By season’s end Bowyer was crowned Nationwide Series Champion over tough competitor Carl Edwards.

In Cup Bowyer traded car numbers and sponsorship with RCR driver Casey Mears so he left the Jack Daniels’ sponsored No. 07 and switched to the No. 33 General Mills car.

Still success in the Cup series eluded Bowyer. In 2009 he finished the season in 15th. He regrouped in the off season and set his sights on a better season for 2010.

Bowyer won at New Hampshire again and raced into the Chase in 2010. He won at Talladega in autumn which earned Bowyer enough points by season’s end to finish 10th for the year. He was a part of the year-end Awards Banquet for the first time in his career.

As the 2011 season dawned Bowyer was running well but incidents plagued him on the track that kept him from winning. By the fall of that year Bowyer announced his decision to leave RCR for MWR starting in 2012. It was a three-year deal.

To cap his tenure with his No. 33 team Bowyer did earn a win at Talladega on Oct 23rd. It was his last victory running for RCR.

Bowyer was never a fascinating driver for me until he made the switch to MWR. At RCR I was far more interested in Harvick than Bowyer. Once Bowyer began driving for MWR his status jumped up in my eyes.

Bowyer has gleaned a lot of information from part-time teammate veteran Mark Martin. They seem to have clicked and the synergy – not just with Bowyer but the whole MWR team – is palpable. Bowyer is in the Chase and has earned two top-10s and a top-five to date.

It would be an exciting turn of events to see this driver race his way to the championship and, for the first time, that is in his grasp! Regardless of whether he does or not, it is a great joy to see Bowyer in the 2012 Chase and another reason why I love NASCAR.



Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.







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