Every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver deals with pressure, but Clint Bowyer might be under a little more than usual Saturday night in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Since 2017, Bowyer has driven for owners Gene Haas and three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart as part of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR.) Driving for Stewart, a future Hall of Fame driver, is one thing, but this weekend Bowyer’s Ford Fusion will also carry the logos of Rush Truck Centers and Cummins Inc.
Cummins’global headquarters is in Columbus, Indiana – Stewart’s hometown.
“That’s a lot of pressure,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “Not only do I have to continue filling Tony’s seat, now I’ve got his hometown company’s logo on the side of my Ford. He’s going to have high expectations, I’m sure, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m glad Cummins has joined us.”
Cummins makes its first appearance on the No. 14 Ford Fusion Saturday night, but it is a household name to most motorsports fans.
Its lineage dates back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, when company founder Clessie Cummins was on the pit crew of the race-winning Marmon Wasp of driver Ray Harroun. Since its founding in 1919, the company now employs approximately 58,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 500 company-owned and independent distributor locations and approximately 7,500 dealer locations.
While Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions, it is best known for its diesel truck engines. At Bristol, Cummins will share space on the No. 14 with Rush Truck Centers, the nation’s largest provider of premium products and services for the commercial vehicle market, with the largest truck inventory in North America.
Rush Truck Centers has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states. According to Rush Truck Centers, the trucking industry is expected to need 200,000 diesel technicians over the next 10 years to keep up with maintenance demands. Rush Truck Centers wants to make NASCAR fans aware of these opportunities.
Rush Truck Centers and Cummins are accustomed to working with each other. When a Cummins customer is in need of maintenance at a Rush Truck Centers location, RushCare Service Connect automatically provides information to Cummins, expediting and facilitating Cummins support and engagement when necessary. All correspondence is captured and can be viewed on the Service Connect portal, allowing customers and service advisors to see the entire maintenance history associated with any vehicle in the system.
Rush Truck Centers has integrated its RushCare Telematics Solution and its Service Connect platform with Cummins Connected Diagnostics to improve its service program, making maintenance decisions and service tracking easier for shared customers.
Cummins and Rush Truck Centers also help SHR get its racecars to the track each weekend. SHR’s Peterbilt Model 389 haulers are equipped with Cummins engines and RushCare Telematics and supported by the RushCare team, which monitors and reports critical fault codes, vehicle performance and driver habits. This ensures the haulers remain in peak condition while traveling thousands of miles from race to race each season.
Bowyer hopes to put both Rush and Cummins in victory lane Saturday night. Although he hasn’t won at Bristol, he’s often near the front when the checkered flag falls there. He owns seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s at Bristol and has led 137 laps in 25 starts. He finished second in this race in 2017, trailing winner Jimmie Johnson across the finish line by 1.199 seconds.
“The Bristol night race is such a party,” Bowyer said. “The fans are right on top of you. They’ve been there all day so, by the time we take the green flag Saturday night, the place is rocking,”
Bowyer arrives at Bristol after a 12th-place finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The finish kept Bowyer fifth in the regular-season points race. Bowyer owns the fourth-most playoff points as the season winds down with just three races remaining before the 2018 playoffs.
Playoff time certainly turns up the pressure for the Cup Series drivers. The pressure of driving for one of the businesses in Stewart’s hometown this weekend in Bristol might make for a good tune-up for Bowyer.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is it like to race at Bristol?
“There is no way to describe 500 laps at Bristol. If your car is handling well, it’s manageable. If it’s loose and you are midpack and there is someone in front of you who is erratic, you are tense and not breathing. You haven’t made it 10 laps and you are out of breath. You think, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m going to make it these 500 laps.’ Next thing you know, it’s lap 450 and you’re wishing it was 600 laps.”
What would a victory celebration at Bristol be like?
“I want to celebrate in front of all those wild and crazy fans. There’s no better atmosphere. They’re so close to you that you feel that environment. I’m telling you, during driver intros, you’re walking down there and it’s just the feeling that comes over you before you get in that car. It’s just something you don’t feel anywhere else. It’s because of the closeness of the fans to you. They’re all breathing down on you and expecting big things out of you, and you can’t wait to go out there and get in that coliseum and go to battle.”
How do you make your car go fast at Bristol?
“That baby’s got to turn in the middle, man. It is so hard to get your car freed up enough to turn in the center of the corner but not be too loose in, and then not smoke the tires up and off the corner. At Bristol, you have to have the total package, a lot like I did in Martinsville.”