This is the time of year every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver’s thoughts and dreams turn to Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the season’s 36-race schedule culminates Nov. 17 in a four-driver, winner-take-all race for the series championship.
“Winning a championship is the reason we are in this sport,” said No. 14 Toco Warranty/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer. “It’s why everyone puts in these long hours during a long season. Winning a championship is what we dreamed about ever since we started racing. It was a great feeling to win the Xfinity title in 2008 and I can’t imagine the feeling of satisfaction you would get by winning a Cup title.”
To make those dreams come true, Bowyer’s first step is qualifying for the 16-driver, 10-race NASCAR Cup Series playoffs that begin Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With just seven races remaining in the regular season, Bowyer is on the edge as the 14th-place driver in the playoff standings. There’s time to gain or lose valuable positions as he sits only 10 points ahead of the 17th-place driver but only 61 points behind the 10th-place driver.
Once he’s in the playoffs, Bowyer will need to advance through three, three-race rounds that whittle the field from 16 drivers to four. It’s a tall task, but the No. 14 team has shown speed in 2019, posting five top-five finishes. Only six drivers have more top-fives than Bowyer.
This weekend, the Cup Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where Bowyer has enjoyed a great deal of success on the “Magic Mile.” He won the New Hampshire fall races in 2007 and 2010 and has posted four top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 25 starts. One of his two career poles came at New Hampshire on Sept. 16, 2007.
He arrives at New Hampshire after finishing sixth at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta Saturday night. Bowyer started seventh and was forced to take the wave-around early in the race to return to the lead lap. But he rallied thanks to good driving and great race strategy, finishing fifth in Stage 2. He led the first 40 laps of the final stage before finishing sixth.
Bowyer knows success in Loudon this weekend is key to securing one of the playoff positions.
“We dug ourselves a hole in June and we are trying to climb out of it,” he said. “We aren’t a 16th-place team. I know we are better than that. I believe we’ll be in the playoffs, but we want to be on a roll when they start. We want that momentum going in. A win this weekend in Loudon makes this summer a lot more fun.”
At Loudon this weekend, Bowyer will carry the colors of Toco Warranty, whose Toco All-Star Sweepstakes offers fans a chance to get to Homestead. One lucky winner and guest will attend the season finales of the World of Outlaws World Finals Nov. 8 to 9 at The Dirt Track near Charlotte, North Carolina, as guests of Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) before jetting off to South Florida to see the NASCAR season finale Nov. 16 and 17 in Homestead with Bowyer and SHR.
To register, fans simply need to go to www.TocoWarranty.com. A winner will be drawn by 5 p.m. EDT on Sept. 16.
Toco Warranty partnered with SHR and TSR earlier this year. The provider of pay-as-you-go vehicle repair coverage is a primary partner of Bowyer and the No. 14 team of SHR and the co-primary partner of Donny Schatz and TSR’s No. 15 Winged Sprint car. Toco Warranty is also an associate sponsor of Tony Stewart, who is competing in more than 90 Winged Sprint car races this year.
“We’re all sweating getting to Homestead, but Toco Warranty is making it super easy for a fan to join us,” Bowyer said. “Homestead is a great race and you’ll watch the championship battle. Plus, it’s hard to beat South Florida in November.”
Consumers demand affordable monthly payments and Toco Warranty offers an easy online experience via its website, www.TocoWarranty.com. It is where customers can purchase and review their vehicle service contract, manage online payments and access dedicated customer concierge services.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Toco Warranty/Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts about New Hampshire Motor Speedway?
“I love New Hampshire. That place just fits my driving style. We don’t get up to that part of the country a lot, so it’s good to see the race fans there. They have so many tracks and they love their racing, from Modified to Late Models to our stuff. The support races they put on at New Hampshire are some of the best of the year. Man, do they like to party there.”
What is the most important thing to get right at New Hampshire?
“It’s the middle of the corner. If you want to win, you have to roll the middle of the corner and that’s so tricky. About the time you get that thing rolling really well, you are too loose in or too loose off. There’s no perfect balance there and you have to be able to find a happy medium. You have to roll the middle without getting out of the gas on exit.”