by Lisa Janine Cloud
In the seventh race weekend of the 2017 season, Clint Bowyer still appreciates the rarity and the value of the opportunity he’s been given.
The driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, known for his short attention span, doesn’t dwell on last season’s experiences.
“Last year is just last year. I think I was prepared to enjoy this year even last year. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, whether it was my first opportunity in this sport or my last,” said Bowyer at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon.
“To drive for this manufacturer, Ford, and the support they are giving us. Everyone at Stewart-Haas, the management and sponsors and my teammates. You don’t put enough emphasis on the impact a good teammate can have on you. Drivers capable of winning races and championships. I have two championship-winning drivers as teammates. Danica, everything she brings for our entire sport, let alone the company. This is the opportunity you are giddy about no matter where you are at in your career.”
Bowyer also values his crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, in large part because of the young Bugarewicz’s work ethic.
“It has been awhile since I have had someone as dedicated as Mike is,” said Bowyer. “You literally have to tell him to go home, go eat dinner with your family, take your wife out to dinner, do something to get your mind off this. He will call you at 9 or 10-o’clock at night and he is still working. That work ethic is instilled in pretty much everybody at Stewart-Haas, and Mike is no exception. We are very fortunate to have him. He has brought me a lot of good hot rods already.”
Although he’s known for being less-than-serious, Bowyer does take his work seriously, which seems to work well with Bugarewicz.
“The work ethic is what you care about and I think that is what he cares about with me. As long as I show up for my meetings and take my work seriously. That is the thing about me that people don’t see, that side. I want to run up front. I want to compete. That is why I get out of bed and go to work. That is why you go each and every weekend and drag your family all across the country to do this. Because you love to do it and want to compete and win these races.”
Bowyer admitted that he and Bugarewicz may not appear, on paper, to be the best of matches, but their desire to be competitive and run well brings them together.
“Personality wise, probably not, I would say you are spot-on there,” said Bowyer. “We are definitely polar opposites there. At the end of the day when you run up front and finish up front, everybody is happy. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are.”