The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan Speedway in June 2018 couldn’t have gone much better for Clint Bowyer. The Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver drove a Haas Automation-liveried Ford to victory lane just 65 miles from Ford’s worldwide headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
It marked the second victory of 2018 for Bowyer and the 10th of his career, moving him into a tie for 49th place with Donnie Allison and Sterling Marlin on the all-time wins list.
“Obviously, that was one of the best two moments of the season last year,” said Bowyer, who had ended a 190-race winless streak at Martinsville on March 26, 2018. “To carry (SHR co-owner and Haas Automation owner) Gene Haas’s own car and paint scheme to victory with all of the Ford folks there and a lot of their employees and customers watching from the stands and on television was something special in my career.”
Bowyer led a 1-2-3 sweep of SHR Fords that day.
The victory wasn’t without drama, however. Bowyer’s No. 14 Fusion had just taken the lead during the break before the final stage of the race. Rain clouds out of the northeast drew closer, spitting a fine mist with most of the 39-car field suspecting the race wouldn’t last much longer. Bowyer held the lead but only because his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz elected to take two tires while most of the field took four. It was up to Bowyer to hold the position just ahead of his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, who had led 49 laps – more than any other driver.
Bowyer admitted he had his doubts, but when the green flag waved for the restart, he drove as hard as he could for three and a half laps. He edged just ahead of Harvick before the rain fell hard enough for NASCAR to end the race with 67 laps to go. The victory came on a gamble, but it wasn’t a fluke. Bowyer finished second in the first stage and turned in top-three lap times throughout the day.
Bowyer hopes for a similar result this weekend. He’ll again drive a Haas Automation Ford, but this time it’s a Mustang making its Michigan debut in the Cup Series this weekend. The Haas Automation logos that adorn the No. 14 Ford are familiar to the area’s automotive industry. Haas Automation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC machine tools with an extensive lineup of more than 100 high-value, high-performance products.
Thousands of Haas machines populate local businesses. Haas equipment resides in various Ford Motor Company facilities, including Ford Engine Manufacturing Development Operations in Detroit. A Haas customer on the west side of the state uses its machines to make engine mounts for Ford F-150s, while another customer uses Haas machines on several different suspension components for multiple Ford vehicles. Haas machines are popular for clients making a variety of automotive-related molds. A “Big Three” manufacturer’s design lab uses about 20 Haas machines making components for concept cars and future vehicles.
“Michigan and the auto industry are pretty important to Gene and the folks at Haas Automation,” Bowyer said. “I’ve said this many times – Gene’s equipment gives our crew at SHR the ability to machine any part at just about any time without any delays. Speed is everything in our sport and we have the luxury with Haas Automation products.”
ITsavvy (pronounced I-T-savvy) will also be on the No. 14 this weekend as a co-primary sponsor. ITsavvy is a second-year primary sponsor in the Cup Series. The Addison, Illinois-based company is one of the fastest-growing resources for integrated IT products and technology solutions in the United States. ITsavvy has catapulted rapidly from a Midwest start-up to a national leader in IT products and solutions.
Founded in 2004 by Mike Theriault and Chris Kurpeikis, ITsavvy has been consistently recognized as one of the fastest-growing businesses of its type. ITsavvy is a single-source, end-to-end IT partner. The company combines a comprehensive, value-added reseller business of more than 1 million computer, hardware and software products with an industry-leading advanced solutions group. ITsavvy has access to $8 billion in daily inventory in 46 distribution centers around the country with the ability to ship in-stock items the same day they are ordered.
Bowyer hopes, like last year’s combination of Haas Automation and Ford riding with him to victory lane, he can create new memories this weekend with the addition of Mustang and ITsavvy. He should be one of the race favorites, arriving at Michigan after a fifth-place finish on the Pocono (Pa.) Raceway triangle last weekend. It was another respectable finish in a season that has seen Bowyer post five top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He is 10th in points.
“Last year was fun,” he said, “so let’s do it again.”
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation/ITsavvy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How important is doing well for Gene Haas and Haas Automation?
“Gene’s the man who makes it happen at Stewart-Haas Racing. Obviously, everybody knows what Tony (Stewart) brought to the table at this thing. Gene is that rock behind all of us who enables us to go out and perform at our best. It’s never a question of, ‘What does it take financially or anything else?’ It’s, ‘What does it take to win, what does it take to be better, what does it take to find victory lane?’ Those are questions Gene Haas asks, and that’s it. He doesn’t talk about a good top-10 finish or that you can be proud of a good run. He’ll never say maybe that was a track you struggled at when you run fifth or sixth or something. It’s only about winning, and winning only. It’s what he does in his industry. It bleeds through to his employees and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. You’ve seen his Formula One venture. Amazing what he’s done in motorsports the last few years.”
What is it like to drive for Ford?
“You know every business says it operates as a family but, when you drive for Ford, you really are driving for the family. Before the race, you look over and Edsel Ford (II) is standing there. That means a ton. Think about it, since the very first race there was a Ford in it. They treat everyone like family and we appreciate that. The thing I’ve noticed in my three years at Ford is how often you are talking to the head honchos. Whether it’s a meeting at the shop or going over to Ford Performance, the top guys are the ones you talk with, making sure you have what you need to be successful at the racetrack. That means a lot to a racecar driver.”
What is the secret to Ford’s success?
“It is all about people. I am at home here with Ford. It is a family atmosphere. It literally is a family with the Ford family. It is all about people. The Ford Performance organization and program are a ton of fun to work with. They are all in. You want to be with the ones who are investing the most and pushing the hardest to get the results, and I don’t think anyone is doing more than Ford these days.”