Clint Bowyer: SHR ride "worth what it was I had to go through"

There are probably few NASCAR drivers more excited for the start of the 2017 season than Clint Bowyer.

Clint Bowyer: SHR ride "worth what it was I had to go through"
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, HScott Motorsports Chevrolet

It certainly showed during an appearance Wednesday at the Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, N.C., as Bowyer seemed ready to burst with enthusiasm over his opportunity to take over Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Ford team at Stewart-Haas Racing this season.

“This is the best opportunity I’ve had – everybody knows that,” Bowyer said. “I don’t think you could ever have a better ‘fit factor’ than with this team, I really don’t. I really don’t think I would fit in any other team any better than this one.

“The only thing that sucks about any of this is that we won’t have Tony on the race track anymore. There’s a great deal of entertainment when Tony is on that race track, whether it was winning races or everything in between.”

A long wait

Bowyer has known for more than a year that he was going to replace Stewart at SHR once Stewart stepped away from NASCAR competition, but in the interim Bowyer spent a season at HScott Motorsports in less than ideal conditions.

Asked if he was on “Cloud 9” right now, Bowyer said, “It’s pretty damn hard not to be. These guys are just racers. They’re just heads down, working hard, trying to get better, trying to get faster.

“They don’t take second (place), it’s not an option. They go and work hard and figure out how to win races and it doesn’t matter what it takes to do it. You have the resources put in place. I love (team co-owner) Gene Haas. He comes up and says, ‘What are we going to do to win today?’ Period. There’s no other conversation.”

Bowyer finished 27th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings last season, with a season’s-best seventh-place finish coming at the spring race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It was one of just three top-10 finishes all season.

Since first running full-time in the Cup series in 2006, Bowyer had never finished lower than 19th in the standings.

Asked if he regretted the year spent at HScott, Bowyer demurred.

“Hey, you learn from everything and I met some good people over there. There were a lot of guys there who worked their tails off to get our cars to the race track,” Bowyer said. “The success wasn’t there but it doesn’t change the fact that fewer guys did more work.

“At the end of the day, they put me on the race track and gave me the opportunity to do what I love to do. Was it the best thing in the world for me? Probably not. It probably wasn’t healthy as a matter of fact.

“Nonetheless, this opportunity was worth what it was I had to go through, whether it was sitting at home or sitting in something else – it didn’t matter. I’d sign on for this thing and if I had to go be a spotter for a year, I was going to do it.”

Why did Bowyer consider Stewart’s ride worth all the trouble?

“I knew this ride was going to be my soonest opportunity to be in the best possible ride to go out and win races,” he said.

And by all accounts, he can’t wait to get started.

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