How important is success at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn to some of the key stakeholders in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series?
This week, Ford is gathering all of its Cup Series drivers Thursday at its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where they will meet with employees, tour the world headquarters and talk with executives. Then Sunday, many executives and employees will make the 65-mile trek to the 2-mile speedway to watch the Ford contingent battle the two other manufacturers in America’s most popular form of motorsports.
“Michigan is in the manufacturer’s backyard, and winning there not only means bragging rights for those folks, but goes toward business reasons they are in the sport and support all of us,” said No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang driver Clint Bowyer. “We’ll take a victory anywhere, but winning at Michigan is always a good thing for everybody.”
Bowyer knows the reward for success at Michigan. He earned his 10th career victory there on June 10 last year. It was one of two victories in 2018 that moved him into a 59th-place tie with Donnie Allison and Sterling Marlin on the all-time wins list. Bowyer could use a victory this weekend as he teeters on the edge of playoff eligibility.
He is 15th in the standings for one of the 16 playoff slots. He holds a 12-point advantage over Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman, who are tied for 17th. While Bowyer is trying to preserve his place in the standings, he’s only 48 points out of 12th with just four races remaining in NASCAR’s regular season.
Bowyer arrives at Michigan after finishing 20th on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y) International last weekend. He raced in the top-five much of the race until a flat tire on lap 62 of the 90-lap race dropped him back to 34th. Bowyer made his way back through the field, but there wasn’t enough laps left in the race to regain his position.
“That’s kind of how our season has gone,” Bowyer said. “We were right where we wanted to be last weekend and had a flat tire. We know we have some really important races coming up but, if we race like I expect us to race, then we are going to be fine. We plan on gaining a few spots in the standings, as well.”
Michigan might be the place to do just that.
At Michigan this past June, Bowyer qualified fifth and ran at the front of the field until a late-race accident ended his day on lap 130 of the 200-lap event. He owns a victory, two top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 27 starts at the track about a 90-minute drive west of Detroit. While race results and playoff standings are important, this weekend has a little extra importance as Bowyer’s No. 14 Mustang will carry the green and white colors of One Cure.
One Cure is a project led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. The One Cure program is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.
The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 patients enrolling in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.
“We all know cancer sucks, but I’ve learned about cancer through One Cure and there’s hope through studying animals,” Bowyer said. “They told me one in three people, one in four dogs, and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetime and it’s a leading cause of death for all of us.”
Bowyer said there are few things in life more important than seeking a cure for cancer.
“Dogs are the best subjects to study cancer because they get cancer naturally, just like people,” he said. “Plus, they live in the same places, breathe the same air, drink the same water – even sometimes eat the same foods. I’ve learned through the One Cure folks that dogs share 85 percent of our genetic makeup. If you can cure cancer in a dog, then you have a good shot at doing the same things for humans.”
Bowyer hopes race fans will visit www.OneCure.com, where they can learn about the research and offer financial support.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is there pressure on you and the other drivers battling for a playoff spot this weekend at Michigan International Speedway?
“There’s pressure in everything you do in this sport and that’s kind of the way we like it. That’s what makes it fun. We are getting to the point in the season when the pay window is starting to open and it’s go time. That’s when it’s fun for the drivers, teams and especially the fans. As the tension goes up, the sport gets more and more interesting.”
What are your thoughts on Michigan International Speedway?
“The speed at Michigan will surely get your attention. You better have everything right at Michigan. That’s engine, aero, handling and everything else. You are going so fast there that anything slightly off will show up.”