Clint Bowyer explains the importance of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway as well as any marketing or public relations person whose job is to promote the race.
“There’s a million dollars on the line,” said Bowyer, who’ll drive the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Fan Club Ford Fusion in the annual race first contested in 1985. “How do you think we’re going to race? It’s $1 million. Think about that – $1 million on the line. It’s about money and a trophy.”
The non-points race has always produced some of the most dramatic moments of the season. This year’s race includes all 2017 and 2018 Cup Series race winners, former All-Star Race winners competing full-time, and former Monster Energy Series champs competing full-time. Bowyer’s March 26 victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway ensures he gets to bypass the Monster Energy Open and be one of at least 17 drivers to start in the All-Star Race.
“That’s been our goal all year– to get a win and advance straight to the All-Star Race,” said Bowyer, who advanced to the All-Star Race through his performance in the Open in 2014, 2015 and 2017. “The No. 14 needs to be in the All-Star Race right from the start. We had to race our way in last year in the Open. I’m glad we have our spot in the All-Star Race and can concentrate on winning it.”
As usual, there will be some tweaks to the rules for the exhibition race. Cars will use restrictor plates, a splitter borrowed from the 2014 rules package with a 2018 radiator pan, a 6-inch-tall spoiler with two “ear” extensions measuring 12 inches tall, and manufacturer-specific air ducts designed to minimize the advantage of lead cars in undisturbed air.
The race is scheduled to run in four stages. Stage 1 is scheduled to end on lap 30, Stage 2 on lap 50, Stage 3 on Lap 70, and a final shootout that ends at the 80-lap race distance. Only green-flag laps will count in the final stage. In a new wrinkle to previous formats, NASCAR overtime rules will be in effect for the end of each stage. It’s designed to promote passing and tight competition, similar to the package the NASCAR Xfinity Series used at Indianapolis last year in a race that set a record number of leaders and lead changes.
This year’s schedule race distance is 10 laps longer than the 2017 edition but will feature a pared-down procedural structure. Unlike previous formats, there will be no mandated pit stops, no choice of alternate tire compounds, no eliminations and no inversions of the running order.
Of course, the All-Star Race is a warmup for the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 – the longest race on the circuit. Bowyer is sixth in points and hopes to climb even higher and win one of the sport’s most prestigious races. He said the All-Star Race prepares teams for the 600.
“I think it’s helpful having that All-Star Race ahead of that big, long, grueling 600-mile race that’s a points race,” Bowyer said. “The All-Star Race always has those kinds of stages and short runs, so it helps you kind of get ready for next weekend’s race that will have four stages. Plus, having that practice time on the racetrack is definitely going to be key to learning about the track and preparing for the 600.”
The All-Star Race and the 600 are exciting times for race fans and SHR wanted to throw in a bonus. The organization announced Monday it is reaching back in time and reenergizing a team fan club. Bowyer’s No. 14 will carry a special paint scheme this week that calls attention to the new SHR Fan Club as well as recognizes the team’s corporate partners. At no cost, the SHR Fan Club will offer fans numerous chances to win cool gear and, most importantly, access to the inner workings of SHR. Meet-and-greets with team personalities at the track and VIP events at its race shop will be available to SHR Fan Club members. To join, simply sign up at www.StewartHaasRacing.com/FanClub.
“I hope everyone takes advantage of this fan club,” Bowyer said. “It’s free, so what do you have to lose? Join us and we’ll have some fun together over the coming months and years.”
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Fan Club Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How fun is it at SHR these days?
“Things are finally gelling and working the way they’re supposed to work at a multicar team. It doesn’t do anybody any good to have one car running good. Having all four cars running well up front for our partners on the side of the cars, our manufacturer, it just speaks volumes about everybody pushing in the same direction, and the adjustments we made in the offseason, and putting a year under our belts and learning from that, learning these Fords, the aero maps, the Roush Yates horsepower – all the tools that you use to go to the racetrack week in and week out. We have that year under our belt for our 14 car. The communication, the driver, crew chief communication, our engineers, everybody is just so much more polished this year than we were last year as we were learning. It seemed like last year you were in a different car every week. You never felt like you were sitting in the same car. This year, not only do I feel like I’m sitting in the same racecar, it’s responding to the same things. They have a good aero balance underneath them – your wedge, your track-bar adjustments, your air-pressure adjustments, all those things are making sense and clicking for you and it paints such a clearer picture to make those adjustments and have confidence in your decisions behind those adjustments.”