In 15 years racing at the Cup level, Clint Bowyer has 10 wins, 505 starts and a well-earned reputation as the best interview subject in the sport. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver talked with Athlon Sports about hangovers, getting old, NASCAR fights and his offseason crew chief swap in which John Klausmeier replaced Mike Bugarewicz.
You turned 40 this year. Did you throw a big party?
Yeah. You feel it, too. Walking out [of a bar] old makes that way more impactful. You have to plan [hangovers] now. It used to just happen, and if it took two or three days [to recover], so be it. Now, there has to be a reason if I’m going to have a hangover. I don’t want to feel that without reason. It has to be a good one.
That age seems to be the benchmark for when guys think about retiring. Jimmie Johnson is retiring. Dale Jr. is gone, Jeff Gordon is gone, Tony Stewart is gone.
That’s 50, man! [Editor’s note: He was joking. None of those drivers were 50 when they retired or even now. Gordon and Stewart are both 48.] Those guys are way old! 40? Damn.
It’s the drive. Our schedule is grueling. It’s grueling on everybody. We all know it. It’s a long schedule. You’ve got to have that drive. And you’ve got to have success to have that drive. How you have that success is continue your quest to try to perfect everything you possibly can. Just like our crew swaps — we’re trying to make things better. We were decent [last] year. But that’s not what you want to be. I want to be where Kyle Busch is. I want to be the champion. That’s what we’re here for. That drive to be a champion is why I’m still here.
What does your son Cash do that makes you think, “He’s going to be just like me?’’
He loves to be around people. He loves to impress people. He loves to be racing something. If he’s on his motorcycle, he wants to be faster than the next guy. He’s always racing.
Is your daughter Presley like her mom or her dad?
It’s crazy how kids are so different. [Cash] is pretty chill, mild-mannered, polite. Way more than I am. She is a bat-out-of-hell maniac. What the hell? You’re supposed to learn from your older brother! He’s like an angel child. She is not.
You sprinted toward Ryan Newman’s car after the All-Star race and threw punches when you got there. Who would you least want to see sprinting at you?
Anybody that’s mad. The guy that wins most fights is the guy who’s more mad than the next.
Is there anybody you wouldn’t have charged?
Not in that situation.
If you had a magical wand, and it made you able to do whatever you wanted, all day long, what would you do?
I could do whatever I wanted? I do it every day: Get in a racecar and go race. I’d race something. It’s a ton of fun, living out your dream.
Is it true that you’re glad to get a new crew chief because you’re tired of having to spell [Mike] Bugarewicz?
[Laughs.] Dude, I just shorten it. You just go with Buga for him. When I first met him, I said, “You’ve got to help me. I got to know how to say it.” He said, “Dude, just say ‘Buga.’” All right, good deal.
How big of a deal is it to get a new crew chief?
It’s the biggest deal, right? That’s the captain of the ship. Anytime you change the captain, it’s a big deal.
How is that relationship like a marriage?
It’s a lot like it. You’ve got to get along. It’s communication. You’ve got to get the most out of each other. That’s what makes a difference. We talk about those adverse conditions. When you face adversity, you’ve got to make the right decisions. You don’t have time to second-guess yourself. You’ve got to be on the same page.
What do you guys have to do to become contenders?
It’s chemistry. We’ve got to get the most out of adverse situations. That’s what we weren’t very good at. We can take a good day and have a good day with it. But on a struggle day, we didn’t do as good as I think we could have. That’s where we were faltering. That’s what makes a good team good. Anybody can make a good day good. We’ve got to make a bad day good.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)