NASCAR Media Conference
June 24, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's NASCAR CAM video teleconference held at the headquarters of Richard Childress Racing. We are in advance of this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; that's the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. Special guest today is RCR's Clint Bowyer. He drives the No. 33 this week, No. 33 Hartford Chevrolet.
Clint won at New Hampshire in September 2007. That was the kickoff event in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. That day he earned a perfect driver rating of 150, and the reason he did basically is because he led 222 of the 300 laps, an unbelievable performance. Clint is 16th in the series points right now, 65 out of 12; 12th place is the cutoff to make the 12-driver Chase field.
Clint, you've excelled in New Hampshire before, wanted to ask you what the outlook going into the track this time, but also know that there's a little special promotion you might want to mention as we get started today.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, it's been a special track for me. It's where I got my first win in the Cup Series. It's just a fun racetrack. It seems like these mile racetracks are playing in my favor, and I enjoy it. Running in the Nationwide race this weekend. So looking forward to an action-packed weekend and Shane and all of the guys on the Hartford Chevrolet have been working hard and making sure that we are ready to go.
I think we have stopped the bleeding a little bit. We got going the wrong way in the points there and stopped the bleeding, got things pointed back in the right direction and I think we have got four Top-12s here in a row, so definitely got the consistency back that we are made out of and hopefully we'll start our march back into inside the Chase here in the next few weeks.
But you know, getting back to New Hampshire, I just enjoy the racetrack. I enjoy the raciness of the racetrack, being able to control a little bit of your own destiny. As you said, getting back to my first win, that's the one that you'll never forget, you know, and to be able to win it in pretty much dominant fashion meant a lot to me, and beating your peers and everything else. It's just a great weekend.
This is our second race with having the Hartford on the Chevrolet, so looking forward to that, and the first week of our contest. Enter to win this contest, enter thehartfordracing.com, enter a chance to win a trip to Homestead Miami at the season final and a boating excursion with me championship weekend. It will be a lot of fun and a good time, so make sure you enter at thehartfordracing.com.
Q. A quick one for you, how confident are you at this point that at least one or two RCR cars are going to get into the Chase and what do you need to make sure that happens in the next ten races?
CLINT BOWYER: Just be consistent. I'm fairly confident we can get at least two of us in. You know, Burton has been on a little bit of a down slide but I feel like we with the 33 team have really capitalized on learning some things and had a good, at least a solid last four weeks. So I think as I said earlier, we have stopped the bleeding so to speak on the bigger racetracks, the mile and a halves. But if you look back at it, I crashed a car in Talladega and again got caught up with Allmendinger at Darlington. That's 250, 300 points that we got wiped out from right underneath of us there within a month, and it takes a while to get those points back.
But I feel like we are definitely marching in the right direction and hopefully in the next few weeks we have got some good tracks coming up for me. New Hampshire this weekend, Daytona after that, those typically have been good tracks for me, tracks that you can hopefully make some ground up. I'm looking at these two weekends as an opportunity.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your new dog, because NASCAR drivers, they are becoming more known for their dog. Junior's doing, killer has his own merchandise line and Allmendinger's was in a movie, so I want to know all about Trip and what kind of dog parent you've become.
CLINT BOWYER: Trip is quite the Trip. He's an Australian shepherd. He's just man's best friend. He goes everywhere with us and I just really have been enjoying him. He's got a good temperament to him and good attitude and he behaves well.
I think just spending a lot of time with animals is the best thing you can do. He's been a really good puppy so far, and little to know trouble, and you know, you couldn't ask for much more out of a puppy his age. But I have really been enjoying him a lot. He's the dog I always kind of wanted growing up, so he's quite the hand.
Q. What are your thoughts on the still-new restart rule, and how you see that playing out at New Hampshire, which is on the flat side and on the narrow side?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I think we got back to normal after we got the road course out of the way. It was pretty hectic. If you were mid-pack to farther back, it was kind of all hell broke loose on those restarts back there. I felt like it's brought a little bit; as a viewer, everybody I've talked to all week long was like, starts were wild, man, that was awesome. It wasn't much fun for us, but it's a show.
We are all about our fans. We can't do this without our fans and we've got to make sure that we are putting on a good show for them. If they are enjoying our show and our product that we are doing on race day, that's what it's all about.
So I feel like it's added a new level of excitement and kind of gave NASCAR a wake-up call. So I think this weekend it will be back to kind of a little bit more of the same. It seems like it always gets stretched out a little bit here, and those double-file restarts will definitely pick up the pace a little bit.
Q. At Louden, it's a two-lane or -groove track now, but do you see -- it seems tight. There doesn't seem to be a lot of room to maneuver around. Do you see it as maybe being a little bit more difficult than other places where there's a little bit more space?
CLINT BOWYER: No, not really. There's still a lot of track there. I've seen it three-wide in the corners but not for very long. A lot of space there. It's really racy.
I think that one thing that's kind of made everybody pay attention to is getting their car up and going on restarts, whether it's air pressure or whatever else, it seems like you always either have a car that will run on a long run or a car that will go quick on a short run.
I think everybody is having to rethink their strategy a little bit, especially in the latter part of the race to where they can make sure their car gets up and going so they can stand to either hold their ground or gain some ground on those restarts.
Q. Things have not been as up to RCR standard as they have been in the past; how much do you think that has to do with the four team?
CLINT BOWYER: I don't think adding a fourth team had anything to do with it. If anything it helped. If anything it's given us a lot more inside information as a group, as a whole, that we can lean on. I fell like we've got -- kind of chasing down the wrong path.
Kevin last year at the end of the year was really running good and they were on some drastically different things that we were running at the time, so we all kind of over the off-season put a lot of -- our eggs in that one basket, hopefully that being the answer for the year starting off strong. It just wasn't.
So we have had to drop back and punt so to speak. We have had to come back and cut our cars up and change front clips, change body designs around, aero designs around, whatever the changes were. It takes time to get those all acclimated and back in place as a group and as a whole so we can all get back to running well.
That's kind of where we are at. We are starting to see all of the hard work of getting things back to where we were, you know, and going down the right path. We are starting to see some results, especially on my side. So I'm excited about the races to come here. I think we have got ten races left, to be a part of this Chase, I feel like we are starting to run good at the right time.
Q. When you talk about getting off, are you love a lot, or just a little bit? With this new car, how much do you have to be off to be way on down?
CLINT BOWYER: A little bit is a lot with this new car. It's just really -- that holds true. Just the least little bit is huge. When you're talking about, you know, once we get spread out, we are all basically running the same speed anyway. The leader might be a tenth to half a tenth faster, and that's nothing.
So if you are off the least little bit, it just shows up big time on Sunday. So we are having to -- we have had to look at all of our programs, whether it be aero, engineering, chassis, engines, we have had to pick the pace up in all of those areas just the least little bit. It's not something ever that seems with this new car and as competitive as the sport is, you can't just look at the new engine and say, hey, give me ten horsepower and I'll start winning races again. We fell behind and you have to push and encourage everybody in all those areas to help pick your end of the deal up.
Q. It seems like every week all teams are faced with some kind of problem because of the economic climate. Do you have any idea what's the biggest challenge your team is facing in today's economic world? A lot of drivers are already worried about sponsorship. Would that be one of them or do you have other problems?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean, it's just -- look at the country. Look at the world for that matter. Everybody is struggling. All of corporate America is struggling and when you look at our sport, we rely on corporate America more than any other sport out there. It's everything to us and that's what makes our cars go around and that's what funds our teams.
We have got to -- everybody, as corporate America is struggling and making cutbacks, we also have to make cutbacks. You can't continue to get the same amount of money out of them when they are cutting back, as well. So when you don't get as much money, you've got to find ways to cut back. And that's what everybody is struggling with right now, to keep up with the Jones', so to speak, and cut the funding back and still be able to afford the good people the right resources it takes to make teams run strong. So it's very difficult times. I mean, Richard is one of the best owners out there, and as far as keeping people, I don't think there's anybody out there that's better than Richard at RCR. So when I see him and as much as he works at it and struggling to keep his sponsors happy and to make sure that we are doing everything that we can for our sponsors -- I mean, that's the thing. They are struggling out there, so we have to make sure that we go above and beyond for our sponsors and make sure they are happy and get a big bang for their buck. Not that we don't do that anyway, but if there's anything we can possibly do to help, we are there to help.
Q. You mentioned stopping the bleeding. Can you pinpoint what Band-Aids so to speak, work the best for your team, and what do you expect going forward?
CLINT BOWYER: No, you know, I don't know what band aid, what brand of Band-Aid did the right job. But it's just everybody working hard. Hats off to everybody at RCR. First, you've got to realize you've got a problem, and then you've got to be willing to work your butt off to fix that problem.
And you know, Shane Wilson, my crew chief on the Hartford Chevrolet, everybody at RCR, our engineering staff, they have really worked hard at fixing that problem and getting to the bottom of the problem as quick as they did. You know, unfortunately we had a rough two months. I mean, rough two months.
But it takes that long to find the problem, fix the problem and get those changes that you've made acclimated into the system. You know, when you've got an organization as big as ours, it's not something where you can just make one change and fix the whole problem. Everybody's cars have to be changed. You know, if we find advances in the engine department, we have to make sure that those changes will live, and so a lot of sim and a lot of dyno work goes into place and making those changes and making a smart change.
So that's the thing is when you get behind, it just takes a while to dig yourself out of that hole. I feel like when I said "stop the bleeding," I feel like that meant we found the problem, we fixed the problem. And now it's taking a little bit of a problem to get that problem and get those changes acclimated into our system. We are already starting to see results and things turnaround.
So a lot better, but looking at our two months, I mean, we had -- we were not running well, but we had horrible luck. I mean, we had the worst -- I wrecked more in a month's time than I did in three years' time. Kevin, he's wrecked. We didn't tie the record of consistency by wrecking and falling out of races and all of a sudden, you know, that all came to the end. And the guy that I beat for that record was my teammate, Kevin Harvick. So it's bound to happen. That luck is going to catch up with you, and you are going to have some bumps in the road, and unfortunately we are just seeing those bumps in the road.
You know, I think we got those behind us, ask timing could not be better to get ourselves back in the Chase. We have ten races left and I feel like if we lock down and hone in on those, that we can do it.
Q. You mentioned your first trophy in New Hampshire, Mark Martin a while ago mentioned that those trophies get invisible after a while for him. Do they get invisible for you?
CLINT BOWYER: That's because he's old and he can't see anymore.
But no, the trophy never gets invisible. If Mark Martin says his trophies are invisible to him, he needs to retire; he doesn't enjoy them anymore. Doesn't appreciate them.
They are hard to come by and I'm very proud of the very few that I have. He's got a lot more than I do.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks a lot for taking time out of your schedule this week to spend time with us and best of luck at New Hampshire.
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