Clint Bowyer might seem a little crazy, but he’s certainly no dummy.
When retired Buffalo Bills special teams ace Steve Tasker tried to autograph a football for Bowyer two weeks ago, the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford driver quickly saw a sure-fire way to make his home life lot easier. Bowyer agreed with the idea to have Tasker sign the football to his wife Lorra, a lifelong Bills fan.
The Emporia, Kansas native brought the football home to his wife a few days later.
“On Sunday mornings in the offseason, we go out to breakfast and I’m decked out in my Kansas City Chiefs shirt and Lorra’s got on her Buffalo Bills sweatpants,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “So, I think she’ll be happy with a signed football from Steve Tasker.”
Lorra Bowyer is a native of Pen Yann, New York – a town of 5,000 about 120 miles east of Buffalo. More importantly this week, Pen Yan is about 30 miles from Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where her husband and the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field will race Sunday in the GoBowling at The Glen.
Bowyer met Tasker and Bills general manager Brandon Beane when he visited the Bills stadium and training facility July 19 to promote this weekend’s race. While his football loyalty is more toward the Chiefs, the Upstate New York area has a special place in Bowyer’s heart after spending time with the in-laws over the years.
“I love this place,” he said. “There are so many lakes and the area is so beautiful. Not sure I want to spend winters here but, when we visit, we have a good time.”
Bowyer hopes he’ll also have a good time Sunday in the GoBowling at the Glen. It’s the second of three road-course races on the 2018 Cup Series schedule. Bowyer warns there’s very little comparison between the high speeds of the Watkins Glen track and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, where Bowyer finished third on June 24.
He said the key to success at Watkins Glen is getting his rhythm and timing to account for the high speeds.
“There is such a sensation of speed at Watkins Glen,” said Bowyer, who has posted top-five finishes in all three road-course races he’s entered since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2017. “It is a wild racetrack and you have to be on your toes. If you slip up the least little bit, you are not only going to crash, you are going to crash hard. I think of it like this – Sonoma is like a short track and Watkins Glen is like a superfast, 1.5-mile track. That’s the speed difference.”
Bowyer played a fuel-mileage strategy last year to earn a fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen. He hopes for similar success Sunday when his No. 14 Ford will carry the Rush Truck Centers paint scheme. Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010.
The Texas-based company 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 and knows that, with Bowyer’s background, he is the right guy to help get the message out.
Bowyer arrives at Watkins Glen after finishing 11th at Pocono last weekend. The Rush Truck Centers team is fifth in the standings with two victories, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s with just five races left in the regular season. Bowyer owns the fourth-most playoff points behind leader Kyle Busch, SHR teammate Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. As the playoffs approach, Bowyer said every point matters.
“We just need to be consistent and run well,” he said. “Our road-racing program is really strong at SHR and I expect it will be again this weekend in Watkins Glen. We’ve run better than we’ve finished of late, and we need to get back to finishing like we should. I hope that’s what happens this weekend.”
If Bowyer can continue his recent road-course prowess Sunday in the GoBowling at The Glen, then maybe his autograph will be just as popular as Tasker’s in Upstate New York.
Even if his wife prefers her Bills memorabilia.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is the key to a fast lap at Watkins Glen?
“The Glen is so tricky. It’s such a momentum racetrack and a very fast racetrack. For me, the part you have to get right if you want a good lap is going up through the esses. You have to hold that loud pedal down as much as possible and go wide open through the esses and on in to that ‘Bus Stop.’ That Bus Stop is where you can find a lot of speed. You have to roll through there, not upset the car or bounce off those curbs too hard and make your car loose.”
What is the difference between Sonoma and Watkins Glen?
“You are way more at ease at Sonoma. It’s a finesse, rear-grip, take-care-of-your-tires type of track. I think it is a much more technical track. When you go to Watkins Glen, it’s a ton of fun but it’s a whole different beast. It’s wide open. It’s balls to the wall. You have to be extremely good on braking and have a fast racecar. Both of them are a ton of fun and so unique. That is the thing. We race and chase each other in circles non-stop. It is refreshing to have a break like this when we come to these road courses.”