If fan support is any advantage, then No. 14 DEKALB Mustang Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer has a strong chance to be one of the eight drivers to advance to the next round of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs after Sunday’s 400-mile race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Bowyer is a native of Emporia, Kansas, a town of 25,000 people about 110 miles from Kansas Speedway. He rightly calls the 1.5-mile oval his home track. Many in the stands will cheer for the SHR driver.
“This is where is all began for me,” said Bowyer, who made his 500th Cup Series start in Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last Sunday. “These people in the stands are the people who saw me race at Lakeside and I-70 Speedways growing up. A lot of them were the ones who helped me get my start. Back then, I was out there with them at Kansas Speedway watching the NASCAR race.”
Between family, friends and sponsor commitments, Bowyer has his typically full agenda when he returns to Kansas this weekend.
“It’s always fun to go home,” he said. “It’s always busy to go home. Going back to Kansas Speedway, you have so many people who have made a difference and got you to where you are, you owe it to them, just like you did when they were helping you on that racecar, to go see them. To see how they’re doing, see their kids, now. Things have changed a lot since I’ve moved away and moved to North Carolina and got into this Cup racing. But, to be able to go back and see family, friends, peers, people I used to race with, businesses that used to sponsor you, it’s important to me to go back and see all of those.”
Bowyer has work to do this weekend after winning Stage 2 and finishing 23rd Monday at Talladega. The performance put Bowyer in 11th place, just 24 points behind the eighth and final cutoff position for those drivers advancing out of the Round of 12 that ends Sunday in Kansas.
“We know what we have to do this weekend,” he said. “We need to get stage points, a great finish and maybe even a win. We finished fifth here in May, we just have to do a few spots better this weekend.”
Like last year, Bowyer will drive the No. 14 DEKALB Ford in Kansas. DEKALB has been helping farmers ensure a future of performance with industry-leading corn seed products for more than 100 years.
Bowyer and DEKALB® brand corn are teaming up to help students cross their “finish line” with the new Left Turns for Learning agricultural scholarship. The scholarship amount will be determined by the number of laps Bowyer completes in the No. 14 DEKALB Ford. The Left Turns for Learning Scholarship was created by DEKALB and Asgrow to help students achieve their goals and advance the agriculture industry by focusing on performance. And while driving a purpose-built racecar that puts out more than 850 horsepower is his day job, Bowyer is also a farmer in North Carolina who understands the importance of agriculture in America.
“There’s nothing better than taking the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Mustang to the track to directly benefit ag students,” Bowyer said. “DEKALB is a consistently high-performing brand, so it’s an honor to work with category leaders dedicated to performance, technology and helping current and future farmers succeed.”
Eligible FFA high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores or juniors pursuing an ag-related degree can apply for the scholarship November 1, 2019 through January 15, 2020 by visiting the National FFA website at FFA.org/scholarships. The scholarship winner will be notified by FFA in April 2020. Visit DEKALBAsgrow.com/LeftTurns for more info and follow the conversation with #LeftTurns4Learning #GoClintGo.
Bowyer wouldn’t mind a good showing in front of the home folks in Kansas that boosts himself into the Round of 8, as well as adding to the coffers of a worthy scholarship fund.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
It seems like you have been on the bubble for 10 weeks. How do you keep it from becoming overwhelming?
“Everybody has strong suits and I know that. I know that’s one good thing I have – you can keep it serious and keep it down to business and stay focused, but you’ve got to make sure you keep it light-hearted and make sure the people around you are having fun and not freaking out because nobody can make sound decisions, whether it’s in the car or on the box or in the pit stall changing those tires as fast as those guys have to do it. Nobody can work under that pressure if they’re mentally not in a good place and on the positive side of that.”
Do you enjoy the playoffs?
“I like this time of year. It comes at a good time for me, not that I’m burned out, but I’m just tired of chasing that same old rabbit. The rabbit is damn near dead. We need a new rabbit and, when the playoffs start, you’ve got a new rabbit and it’s shiny and healthy and runs like hell.”
Do people avoid you when you are on the bubble?
“If you’re out, they do. If you’re out, it’s funny. When you suck, nobody wants to hang out with you. When you run better, everybody wants to hang out with you. That is life.”
Do you enjoy weekends when everything is on the line?
“I don’t know. I think everybody’s personality is different. I actually work better under that because I focus more and not that you don’t otherwise, but it just keeps you sharp, it keeps you honed it. I like that adrenaline rush. I like knowing that it’s all on the line. It’s do-or-die time. It’s fun to get up in the morning.”
Did you think you would ever make 500 starts in NASCAR?
“No. I didn’t even know. You read that and you’re like, “Hmmm, I’ll be damned.’ Five hundred starts, that’s a lot of them, and then you read, like I think Kevin (Havick) just had his 600th or something, so it’s not that bad. It’s a long time, though – a lot of races, and it’s something to be proud of, to stay relevant enough and to stay in equipment for that long for 500 races is something that any driver or any individual who’s in a sport for that long. Compared to about any other sport, that’s a long time to be in a professional sport.”