May 7, 2014

Clint Bowyer starts his Sprint Cup week with good news

It’s a new contract, a baby on the way and maybe a new beginning for the Kansas driver.

Clint Bowyer planned a good week at home.

He is going to sell some cars, shoot an Internet video, talk to high schoolers about not texting and driving, make his 300th Sprint Cup series start on his hometown track and — oh, yeah — re-sign with Michael Waltrip Racing on a multi-year deal to stay in the No. 15 Toyota.

And one more thing: announce that he and his wife are going to have their first baby.

Not bad.

“I had a great week,” he said.

Bowyer, who owns a car dealership back home, got a chance to talk to reporters this week because MWR announced a new deal with the Emporia, Kan., driver.

The baby news was coincidence. But the 300th start was not — it’s a milestone neatly tied to the contract news.

“Yeah, every time you see one of these 300 starts or 400 starts, whatever it is, it really doesn’t register until you get back to thinking about how it all began and what it really means,” he said. “Very fortunate to be a part of this sport for 300 races. Announcing that we’re going to be a part of it for another extended amount of time, it’s very gratifying, and there is a great deal of pride that goes into that.”

It’s a good week for Bowyer. He can use one.

He’s 18th in the driver standings and doesn’t have a win this year. If he doesn’t get one, he runs the risk of not making the Chase.

Last year was tough, too. He went winless and also was accused of intentionally causing a spin so a teammate could make the Chase. Two years ago at Phoenix, a wreck with Jeff Gordon eliminated Bowyer’s shot at the championship, and his and Gordon’s crews fought.

Bowyer didn’t make the Chase in 2011. And in 2010, his car failed an inspection during the Chase and he was docked 150 points. After running as high as second, he wound up 10th in the final standings.

“The racer in you, unfortunately, that is just how our brains work — we remember the bad times way worse or way more than we remember the good times,” he said. “There’s definitely been some bumps in the road, and you learn from those. Phoenix was a bummer deal. That was the closest shot I’ve ever had at winning a championship, which is what we’re all here to do, and it got taken away. Those are the things that you never do forget.”

Maybe this is a week Bowyer will remember.

“Love this sport. Love being a part of it. And hopefully we’re a part of it for a long time,” he said. “All of that coming down to Kansas, my home track, is even that much more special to be able to celebrate my 300th start right here in my own backyard at Kansas Speedway.

“So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about the weekend. I had a great week and can’t wait for the race.”

Series updates

Sprint Cup

Kansas bunch: The top five drivers in driver rating at Kansas are also all winless this year: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

Blaney debut: Ryan Blaney is making his series debut. He’ll drive the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske.


Pole winners: Each of the nine races so far has had a different pole winner. That ties the series record from 1998.

Camping World Truck

Sponsor extension: Camping World and NASCAR agreed to a seven-year extension of the naming rights deal for the series. The deal is through 2022.

The graduate: Ben Kennedy, driver of the No. 31 Chevy for Turner Motorsports, graduated from Florida last weekend with a degree in sports management.


Bayou bound: The IndyCar Series is thinking about racing at Avondale, La. If the state legislature approves, the state would spend $4.5 million for upgrades at NOLA Motorsports Park, the series announced Tuesday.

14.5 Average finish this year for Jimmie Johnson. He has never finished a season worse than 13.5 in Sprint Cup.

They said it

“Brad made a pretty bold move early, a mind-boggling move, in going in front of Danica and spun out in front of the field and got away with it. ... If it was the other way around and it was anybody else except for him, we’d all be getting lectured.”

— Matt Kenseth, on Brad Keselowski’s aggressiveness at Talladega last week.

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