If you’re going to raise awareness for a good cause in Kansas, there’s nobody better by your side than Emporia, Kansas’s own Clint Bowyer. Add NASCAR Cup Series points leader and 50-time race-winner Kevin Harvick and you have the recipe for a lot of publicity.
That’s why Busch, the beer brewed for America’s Heartland and a longtime supporter of agricultural communities, will clad Bowyer and Harvick in corn-themed, Farm Rescue paint schemes and uniforms Sunday when the Cup Series holds its 500-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“Let me get this straight,” said Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Busch Light For the Farmers Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), “we’ll have an awesome-looking corn paint scheme and uniform promoting a great cause in Farm Rescue, plus all the Busch Light we can ask for after the race? To me that’s got the makings of a hell of a weekend in Atlanta.”
Busch announced last week it will provide funds for the Farm Rescue nonprofit to immediately begin harvest assistance to Kansas farm families experiencing a major illness, injury or natural disaster. Since its inception in 2005, Farm Rescue has helped nearly 700 family farms sustain operations in times of crisis. These efforts are made possible through a network of volunteers from across the United States. Busch has been a partner of Farm Rescue since early 2019 and played an instrumental role in facilitating the organization’s entry into Kansas with a mix of financial support, public affairs assistance, and more.
Kansas is the first new state to be added to Farm Rescue’s support network since 2017 and will be the seventh state supported overall.
“I’m a farmer and a lot of my friends back home in Kansas are farmers, so I certainly know what they go through to put food on everyone’s tables,” said Bowyer, who owns a 650-acre farm in North Carolina. “Farmers are vital to our country and farmers are race fans, too. They are our people. Anything we can do to help them always gets my support.”
Busch recently teased the news of this partnership with the release of its special-edition Busch Light Corn Cans, a remixed edition of the classic Busch Light can and packaging. Consumers nationwide can support Farm Rescue with every purchase of the new limited-edition Busch Light corn packs in select states. For each pack purchased in these states between May 18 and July 5, $1 will be donated by Busch, up to $100,000, to benefit Farm Rescue’s ongoing efforts.
Race fans will have the chance to win a suite of farm-related prizes and can check out @BuschBeer on Twitter ahead of Sunday’s race to find out more information. Fans can also head to ForTheFarmers.org to learn more and to stay informed as race day approaches.
Bowyer hopes he and Harvick can give Busch, farmers and all race fans something to smile about on Sunday. NASCAR has led the way in the return of major league sports in America. The Atlanta race will continue to see NASCAR operate under a comprehensive health and safety plan that permits no fans, limited crew, strict social distancing, and mandated personal protective equipment and health screenings for all, just as it did at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last weekend and for each of the two races held in both Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Last year at Atlanta, Bowyer put the No. 14 Ford third on the grid by qualifying less than two-tenths of a second behind SHR teammate Aric Almirola, who won the pole. Bowyer went on to finish fifth in the 500-mile race. It was his second consecutive top-five and seventh top-10 in 19 career Cup Series starts at Atlanta.
“Our run wasn’t pretty last year but we got a good finish,” Bowyer said. “I knew our car had great speed, obviously, from practice and qualifying. Racing is a different beast, especially at Atlanta. You have to take care of those Goodyear tires. The way I had it, it felt like I was on top of the track skating around too much. We made good air-pressure adjustments and got the grip level back in my racecar to where I could compete. It is just weird. You see cars that are kind of up, cars that are down, cars that are dragging, cars that aren’t. There is no track that we go to anymore that is as slick as this and as hard on tires.”
Bowyer said the rules and tire compound changes over the years at the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval have changed the way drivers try to preserve their tires.
“Your tire management used to come from your throttle pedal,” Bowyer said. “Now, your speed and everything else are all wide open, so your tire management comes through the way you and your team get the balance on your racecar instead of you and your car doing the managing with the throttle pedal. You don’t lean on the wheel unless you have to and, if you have to, you better not have to for very long. The game has changed. When they took the horsepower away, the tire management and Goodyear changing the tire has drastically changed that aspect.”
Bowyer enters the Atlanta race 12th in points after finishing a season-best second Sunday at Bristol. It was the 17th time Bowyer has finished a Cup Series race in the runner-up position.
There isn’t much rest planned for the days after Atlanta. The Cup Series will return to action Wednesday night at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway on June 14, and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on June 21. NASCAR is expected to announce additional races soon.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Busch Light For The Farmers Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Sunday’s race at Atlanta is the first race since the return in which the Cup Series will have a week between races. What will that mean?
“Yeah, it’s been nice to have a week to actually kind of reset. I spent some time away from racing with the family at the lake this week. Racing twice a week is no problem. I mean, we’ve all done that before. Usually it was Saturday and Sunday. When it’s a mix of Sunday to Wednesday, it doesn’t give you much time in between to kind of sit back and have a conversation with the guys. They’re digging as hard as they can, trying to play catch-up, getting cars to the racetrack. We’re doing the same thing, just trying to get to racetracks. Rules are changing left and right as we go, as everybody learns with this pandemic and everything of different states and different guidelines.
“This week is certainly helpful on everyone’s behalf, all fronts within our industry. Even NASCAR, I mean, I can’t imagine how hard those guys have been working, how many phone calls, and meetings, how many of these Zoom meetings they’ve been on with state and health. We’ve all been a part of that. Our shops are trying to adjust and learn, be safe because we all have to have that or we can’t put on a show.”
What are your thoughts on Atlanta?
“I love Atlanta. I think everybody likes Atlanta. If you are a racecar driver, you get up on the wheel and are slipping and sliding around. You work your rear end off there. That is what you look for in a racetrack. Coming from a dirt background, the harder you drive her, the faster she goes. The harder you work, the faster it goes. With that thing and the speed you are going and the aero platform you have, it is very easy to overdrive the car and blow through the grip in the tires.”
Are you getting used to not qualifying and practicing before races?
“The only place I was really worried about was the first race at Darlington. It was kind of like, after sitting on the sidelines for two months, then the coach calls on you to go into the game at the most important time of the game. You run so close to the wall there but it only took about seven laps before we were back at it like we always have been.”
Do you miss the race fans?
“You really miss the atmosphere. The excitement. Driving into the track you miss seeing all the people. Hearing their reaction at driver introductions, seeing them in the garage. That’s the part we miss and I’m ready for everyone to get back to the track.”