It might have been the best picture of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer had just ended his 190-race winless streak and notched his first victory at Stewart-Haas-Racing (SHR) driving the organization’s famous No. 14.
Bowyer climbed from the car on the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway front stretch and looked to his left to see his wife Lorra and daughter Presley led by then 3-year-old son Cash running from turn four toward Dad.
He couldn’t resist running toward his family.
“You know I make fun of these other drivers sometimes for having tears in victory lane, but I’ve got to admit that moment got to me,” said Bowyer with a laugh about embarking on a raucous victory celebration that saw him climb into the stands with the Martinsville fans who stayed in Southern Virginia an extra day because snow cancelled the race scheduled for the previous day.
“Cash is young enough that he had never been to victory lane before, so it was his first chance to be there,” Bowyer said. “That’s something I always wanted to make happen.”
Bowyer said Cash still asks him when he’s going back to victory lane.
“Oh, yeah, it’s just funny how kids are,” he said. “We were all kids once, and kids are probably as competitive as any adult. When their parents race for a living and compete week in and week out – that’s all he knows. He literally hasn’t been old enough to understand anything else. Competition and that edge on the competition is all he knows. All he wants to do is beat all of his buddies and bragging rights are part of it. That Martinsville win was big for his bragging rights.”
Bowyer should be one of the favorites once again this weekend at Martinsville. In addition to his March victory on the flat, half-mile oval, he owns six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 26 starts there. Located just 90 minutes from his Mocksville, North Carolina home, he says the facility reminds him of the roots of the sport.
“Martinsville for me is my new home track,” he said. “Everybody lives down in the Charlotte area. We live up north – Winston-Salem area. That’s my home track. That’s the one racetrack you drive back and forth on qualifying day, then go back up there for the race.
“Martinsville has such an old-school feel – even the two-lane road going up to it where you can’t ever get around anybody. You’re stuck in traffic and then you finally get on the open road. Then, you get a (speeding) ticket as soon as you get across the Virginia line. I had the same guy pull me over three years in a row. Finally, he gave me a ticket, which I deserved, and then you get to the racetrack. You’re pulling into these people’s backyards and here’s this awesome racetrack.”
Bowyer arrives at Martinsville after the Cup Series’ three-race West Coast swing. He finished 38th last weekend at Auto Club Speedway Fontana, California, when mechanical issues ended his race early. That finish, coupled with a 20th at Daytona, fifth at Atlanta, 14th at Las Vegas and 11th at Phoenix, has Bowyer 15th in the standings. His SHR team has had a great deal of success at Martinsville Speedway, as well, posting four wins, 10 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s in 62 starts.
“Mobil 1 gives SHR a competition advantage with its technology and lubricants,” Bowyer said. “The success SHR has enjoyed in recent years shows the technological advantages Mobil 1 are giving us on the track every single week. The Mobil 1 synthetic oil I put in my cars at home prolongs the life of every car. I hope Kevin and I can show off that Mobil 1 technology Sunday with a one-two finish. Naturally, I want to be the one to bring home another one of those grandfather clocks (traditional Martinsville winner’s trophy).”
That would make the Bowyer family happy.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Where is the grandfather clock you won at Martinsville last year?
“It’s right in the living room. First thing you see when you walk in. We did have to silence it from going off every hour. For a while it was kind of cool for it to wake you in the middle of the night and remind you that you won that race. But honestly, with two kids, you stop anything that will wake anyone up in the house. But given this is Martinsville week, we might just have it back going this week.”
Was winning at Martinsville a shock?
“No. I remember telling someone that I was going to win at Martinsville someday. I’ve always run well there. I just knew some day when everything went right we’d be in victory lane, and we were.”