When Clint Bowyer fires his engine at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Wednesday night for the NASCAR Cup Series’ 500-kilometer race, it will mark the fourth of five races in a 14-day span since the sport returned from a 10-week hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The frenetic schedule after a long layoff might be too much, too soon, for some drivers, but like his PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze partner, the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver isn’t about to get overheated when times are tough.
In fact Bowyer sort of likes the busy schedule.
“It’s kind of fun man,” he said. “It’s the same for everybody. I miss racing like this. It reminds me of the old days when I was racing two or three nights a week on dirt, or even when I first started my NASCAR career when I was running the Xfinity cars. With a day or two in between, it isn’t really a big deal.”
Wednesday 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 for two races in Darlington last week and Sunday’s 600-mile race in Charlotte.
In that most recent race at Charlotte, Bowyer was relegated to a last-place finish after a mechanical issue sent his No. 14 Mustang hard into the wall after he ran just 96 laps. He was racing in 11th place at the time of the accident.
“That was pretty much a helpless feeling,” said Bowyer, who has struggled to get a good finish, of late, despite running well.
He was 17th and 22nd in the two races at Darlington in NASCAR’s first events since March 8 due to the pandemic. Bowyer ran in the top-six most of the race in the May 17 Darlington race before late-race problems dropped him to 17th. Last Wednesday, he won the first two stages – the first driver to do so in 2020 – and led 71 laps surpassing the 3,000 mark for career laps led. But once again, trouble very late in the race led to wall contact and a spin, resulting in a disappointing finish.
Wednesday’s race will mark the second of several primary races planned for this season for Bowyer with Old World Industries, the parent company of the PEAK and BlueDEF® brands. PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze will serve as the No. 14 team’s sponsor at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in September.
PEAK’s legacy in motorsports spans 40 years and includes leading drivers Dale Earnhardt, Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty. Besides Bowyer’s No. 14 team, PEAK is a partner with Haas F1 Team and its drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, and drag racing’s winningest driver John Force.
PEAK will celebrate its first NASCAR victory on Thursday when it hosts a live viewing party to watch a replay of Petty and then-crew chief Gary Nelson’s domination of the 1990 race at Rockingham, N.C. Petty led 433 of 492 laps that afternoon. Fans can join in on PEAK’sFacebook page and YouTube channel (Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/peakautoYouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/peakcarcare) for the one-time-only viewing Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT.
There will also be a special announcement by Bowyer during the event.
There isn’t much rest planned for the days after Charlotte. The Cup Series will return to action at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Sunday, then Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 7, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on June 10 for the third Wednesday-night event since returning to racing, Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway on June 14, and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on June 21.
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on NASCAR leading the way for the return of sports in America?
“I was proud to be part of a sport that stepped up and figured out how to make us safe and how to handle the situation. They did a great job. Was it overkill in some areas? Yes, but you’ve got to be that way right now. You’ve got to cover everything. They checked all the boxes twice, took care of business and put cars on the track, which is what everyone wanted to see. I’m proud to be part of that. It went down well in both Darlington and in Charlotte on Sunday.”
How is the confidence after running so well since the return from the hiatus but having some back luck since?
“The way we are running, I think we can pounce on one and get one here. We just have to get rid of some of the bad luck. And, trust me, there’s not a team that will party as much as the old 14 car.”
What do you think of your PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze paint scheme?
“I think it looks great, and I have always said any paint scheme looks good in victory lane, so maybe we can put it in victory lane and make her look spectacular.”