Analysis: Clint Bowyer says "racing is fun again," and so is he

You will never have to wonder how Clint Bowyer’s NASCAR season or career is going because he lays it all out for the world to see.

Analysis: Clint Bowyer says "racing is fun again," and so is he
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day, celebrates after winning
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day and Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day celebrates his win
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day, celebrates after winning
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day, celebrates after winning
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day celebrates his win
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day celebrates his win
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day celebrates
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day celebrates his win
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day celebrates
Race winner Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation Demo Day

All of the frustration, disappointment, pressure and perhaps even anger that has engulfed his last several seasons in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was on display Monday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

For one day at least – and certainly the after-party lasted far longer – it was all worth it.

Bowyer washed away a 190-race winless streak in Monday’s snow-delayed STP 500, holding off veteran Kyle Busch to claim his first series win since the 2012 season – a span that covered many years, several organizations and a multitude of frustrating situations

There was the celebration on the frontstretch with his wife, son and daughter. His passionate interaction with the fans near the start/finish line, the celebration on the track and with his Stewart-Haas Racing crew.

The 190-race winless streak was a long one, but what weighed most on Bowyer’s mind was the decision SHR had made two years earlier to make Bowyer its hand-picked successor to Tony Stewart upon his departure from full-time NASCAR competition.

The first year in that role last season did not go as he or his team had hoped. There were flashes of strength, some runner-up finishes, but he didn’t win a race or qualify for the playoffs and it wore on him.

“That’s the one that really matters to me is I finally got lined back up with not only race winning team and a race-winning organization, but a championship-winning team and a championship-winning organization” Bowyer said Monday after the race. “That’s where the frustration started to set in.

“And the worry, man. That’s when you start panicking, and I’m not going to lie. Everybody knows, last year that was a lot of panic on my behalf, on (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz's) behalf, everybody's behalf. I mean, we're expected to perform.

“We’ve got this opportunity, and we just couldn’t put it all together. I’m telling you, this year it’s – racing is fun again.”

Wearing his emotions on his sleeve

If Bowyer is having fun at the race track, then you know things are going well. He’s never been one to shy away from how he really feels, probably to the detriment of a team public relations representative or two along the way.

But his sincere expressions of his mood likely mirror what many fans experience on a daily basis and why many find him so easy to relate to.

Has he made mistakes in the past? Of course. But who hasn’t. Perhaps more so now since he got married and started a family, Bowyer also appreciates the opportunity he’s been given at SHR.

It could, after all, become the defining moment of his NASCAR career.

But still there was something missing – a trip to Victory Lane with his family.

“I was starting to reflect on this, and the one thing that’s always missing is a picture with (his son, Cash), you know, and that’s where it changes your thought process and actually your reasoning for racing,” Bowyer said.

“A lot of people want to think about these kids as being a distraction to drivers and to athletes. You start to think about what really matters in life, and the one thing that I didn’t want him to go through life as is not to know what this was all about.”

Monday served as a powerful reminder, not just for Cash when he gets older, but also for Bowyer himself.

 

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