Bowyer: "The pressure cooker is certainly turning up" as playoffs near

It’s a difficult position Clint Bowyer finds himself in.

Bowyer: "The pressure cooker is certainly turning up" as playoffs near
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

With only eight races left to qualify for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs by winning a race, Bowyer and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team must walk a narrow tightrope entering Sunday’s race at New Hampshire.

Do you push all out for victory and risk your position in the series standings?

Or do you focus on running well, in order to ensure you make the playoffs on points, if not by a win.

“The pressure cooker is certainly turning up,” said Bowyer, who is currently 10th in the series standings but has not won a Cup race since the 2012 season. Including the drivers who have already won races, Bowyer would rank 15th of the 16 drivers to make the playoffs.

“There will be drivers who don’t have anything to lose. They can’t make it in on points, so they have to win. They’ll be willing to take more gambles. They aren’t going to wreck people and take chances that way but they’ll take chances on something like fuel mileage.”

A win this weekend, however, is not out of the question for Bowyer.

He has scored the second-most points in the series over the past three races and he has two previous wins at New Hampshire, including his inaugural series victory in the fall of 2007.

“Those wins allow you to go into this race with more confidence than you would at a track where you haven’t won,” Bowyer said. “I feel like we can win again at New Hampshire this weekend.

“We really want to win, but we also want to make sure we don’t do anything that will knock us out of the points.”

Bowyer’s performance this year in his first season at SHR has been his best since the 2013 season. He also knows much work remains to reach his team’s full potential.

“It is all about the race cars and making them as fast as possible. That goes for aerodynamics, having the right set-up underneath with (computer) simulation and everything,” he said. “Everything has to be perfect.

“It is so much more competitive than 10 years ago when I came into this sport. You can’t have a down area. You can’t have a weak link. It is all across the board that you have to be 100-percent perfect.”

Bowyer’s outward demeanor this season has been an easy indication of his improved performance. The last couple of years, the native of Emporia, Kan., has appeared anything but happy with his circumstances.

“There’s no possible way that I can have success without having fun. It’s not in my DNA,” he said. “If I’m having fun, I’m having success and it’s just always been that way. I’ve been that way since I was a little kid.”

 

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