New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon is 1,530 miles from his hometown of Emporia, Kansas, but No. 14 Haas Automation Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer must feel the 1.058-mile oval has been like a second home during his career.
Two of Bowyer’s eight career victories and one of his two poles have come at the “Magic Mile,” including his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2007.
New Hampshire seems to have enjoyed Bowyer over the years, as well.
Then Gov. Maggie Hassan declared Sept. 5, 2013 “Rockin’ with Clint Day” in New Hampshire. Bowyer took her for a burnout, used a 250-foot crane to dig up a personalized, 7,500-pound rock at a local quarry, and took part in a rock-climbing race.
“It’s always great to go up to New Hampshire,” Bowyer said. “I love the people, I love the fan base. There aren’t many states where I’ve gotten to do burnouts with the governor.”
A look at his record makes it easy to understand why Bowyer likes racing in the Granite State.
At the 2007 September race, Bowyer earned his second career pole on Friday, then led 222 of 300 laps Sunday to win the first Cup Series race of his career. Attrition played no role in the victory as, for the first time in the sport’s modern era, the entire 43-car field finished the race.
Fast-forward to September 2010, when Bowyer started second and led the most laps before fading back. A series of caution periods put him behind now-boss Tony Stewart over the closing laps. With both drivers trying to nurse their sputtering fuel tanks to the finish, Bowyer found himself in position to pounce when Stewart’s tank ran dry a lap from the checkered flag.
Bowyer hopes history will repeat itself this weekend when the Cup Series visits New Hampshire for Sunday’s 300-lap ISM Connect 300. Since missing the playoffs, he’s made winning a goal for the 2017 season.
Sunday’s race could be a turning point.
In the July New Hampshire race, Bowyer and his No. 14 SHR team showed they had the speed to contend for victory. He started 19th but climbed to fifth in the final 100 laps until a slow pit stop, when his car slid through the pit stall, left him with a seventh-place finish.
“I’ve won at New Hampshire twice and I love everything about it,” he said. “The flat, short tracks seem to fit my driving style the best and I have had a lot of success there – so we are pretty confident going in.”
Bowyer arrives at the Magic Mile with some momentum after a 13th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois last weekend. His No. 14 Ford started 11th and ran at the front of the field throughout the 400-mile race.
It’s been a successful season for Bowyer, who replaced three-time champion Stewart in the No. 14 team, led by crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, which has scored five top-three finishes. Its 14.8 average finish is the ninth-best of all full-time Cup teams.
If there’s any track where Bowyer is likely to better that average, it’s New Hampshire.
His second home.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are some of the challenges of New Hampshire?
“New Hampshire can be a tricky little track. You’ve got to be able to roll the middle faster than the other guy, and then you have to put that throttle down. That may sound simple, but those two things are actually pretty difficult. You get the car to where it will really roll the middle, and then it’s pretty free, and now you are too loose up off. You get the car tightened up in the center and now you can’t get off the corner right to pass anybody. It can be a tough thing to juggle.”