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Sep 14, 2012 - 02:35 PM
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2012 Chicagoland Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Clint Bowyer
Posted by: ASkyler on Sep 14, 2012 - 02:23 PM
2012 Chicagoland Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Clint Bowyer

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

What tracks do you think are your best and worst within the Chase? "I look at the short tracks and then I think the best opportunity to win races is on those short tracks. Chicago has been a really good track for me. I've run well at Chicago -- finished second there a few years back and New Hampshire -- we have a pretty damn good roll going to New Hampshire. I think we can win at New Hampshire and get things started off right. If we can do that and keep this buzz going at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), I think we can compete. The mile-and-a-half's, I've never won on a mile-and-a-half, I know that and everybody else does. I have to pick up my game on the mile-and-a-half's -- but we've been running better than I ever have with these MWR cars on mile-and-a-half's. I think if I ever could win on those, it would be in the Chase in the last 10 races. If I can do that with the success I have on the short tracks, again we can be a force to be reckoned with."


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What do you think of your new spotter Brett Griffin? "I like Brett (Griffin, new spotter), we've been friends off the race track for a long time. I have a lot of confidence in him. I talked to Jeff Burton a lot about him and he said hire him in the morning or hire him right now. I have a lot of confidence in him. I don't think it will be a transition at all because we know each other so well and he does such a great job. I've listened to him a lot and most of the things I ask for, he does. Ty (Norris, MWR general manager and previous spotter) and myself -- I wanted to make sure Ty was okay with it because first and foremost, Ty helped me get to where I'm at on so many different levels. I didn't want to take anything from him if he wanted to be a part of that -- I wasn't about to make a change until next year, but the opportunity came up and Ty wants to focus on his job and make sure all three cars are running well. I think it will be a good thing."

Do you feel the Michael Waltrip Racing cars can contend for wins in the Chase? "If you look back at the last four races, MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) cars should have won all four of them. If Brian Vickers would have just cleared that last pass, and he slipped up a little bit and Denny (Hamlin) got around him at Bristol. Before that, Mark Martin at Michigan -- he was dominating that race and cut his car in half. Went to Atlanta and Martin (Truex Jr.) dominated that race and it was a heartbreaker for him. Finally, I got the win at Richmond. That's the last four races that this sport has had that MWR cars were right there and almost took all four of them. If we can continue to build on that and be better each and every week, like we've been, I'm telling you, I don't see why we can't."

Where do you need to be with a few races remaining in the Chase to contend for the championship? "I look at it as, we've run third, fifth and fifth -- we were sixty-thousandths of an inch from fifth last time and it still pisses me off thinking about it. It cost me a lot of damn money. I don't look at that last one of 10th -- we've always finished in the top-five when we've been in the Chase. I think we can do that again. I'm telling you, if you're in that top-five running with three or four to go, you have a shot at the championship, and I believe we can do that. We have some good race tracks and I've always been able to go into the Chase full of enthusiasm, full of excitement, full of pride and never any worry in that sense. Never have I gone into the Chase concerned about anything. Its blue sky, full speed ahead and anything from here on out -- we've won races for my sponsors, we've made the Chase for my sponsor -- we've done all our goals and the last goal is the championship. Everybody knows that everything has to line up perfectly to win the championship, but this could be the year. This is the best I've ever ran leading into the Chase. I've always been able to elevate my game in the Chase, keep it fun and keep it real for the guys and if we continue to do that, we'll have a chance."

What does it mean for Michael Waltrip Racing to make the Chase for the first time? "It just keeps getting better. That's the neat thing about it. We started the year off strong, that's why we are where we're at. We've won races and we just keep getting better week in and week out. I'm excited to see that. We had a Chase-berth luncheon the other day and it turned out being a victory luncheon as well. Those are good things. You're planning a luncheon to celebrate something you've never been a part of and then all of a sudden you throw in win bonuses and things like that -- they're just added bonuses for the luncheon. To see the excitement, the emotion, the exhilaration in those people's faces is just awesome. We're riding a hell of a wave right now and I hope it doesn't end before the end of the year."

Does it help to have a teammate in the Chase? "It doesn't matter if they're in the Chase or out of the Chase or whatever else -- that doesn't make a bit of difference. It matters if they're a good teammate, they're willing to work together, they're good enough to push you to be better in the same equipment. More importantly that they're all working together, and I mean not just the drivers amongst ourselves, but the crew chiefs, our engineers -- that's what makes a difference. It doesn't make a difference if they're in the Chase or not if they're willing to work together to move forward."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing How much do emotions play into your performance in the Chase? "All we can do is worry about our team and worry about what we can do. I feel like we've been on a roll, especially lately -- really running strong -- all of our cars. All we can do is keep trying to do that. We can't worry about what the other guys do. We have to be smart -- we can't beat ourselves. You can't let emotions of our first Chase and all that become a factor. We just have to go out there and do our job and try to do it better than we've ever done it."

Do you have cars set aside for the Chase? "We've been lining this up for awhile. We felt really good about our position for awhile now. We've been working towards that and building some new stuff -- setting some cars aside that we've had a lot of success with this year. We've been prepared for awhile. The guys have done a good job of lining things up -- wait and see if we made the right decisions."

What has this season been like for Michael Waltrip Racing? "It's been a great season for all of us. We've been very consistent, but we've been consistently strong and that's what we've kind of been excited about, especially lately. We've been on such a roll with all of our teams. I think in the last four weeks or five weeks we've all had a shot at winning some of these races. I think in the last six races, our car has led laps and not just by doing crazy things, but by driving up there and taking the lead. We've had lots of speed. It's been a season where we've done a lot of good things. The consistency has been there and that's what we've been lacking in the past. At the same time, we've been able to step up our performance week to week as far as being one of the cars that can win a bunch of races. It's just been a season where we've done a lot of really great things and I've been really proud of the organization for what they've done. To think where we were sitting last year to where we are today is phenomenal and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit for it."

How important is it to have a teammate in the Chase? "I think we're in kind of a unique position -- we have one in and one out. The team that we don't have in the Chase is really strong as well and can help us do a lot of things -- can try some new stuff and kind of be on a little different wavelength than we are and we can still get information from them. I think we're in a good position -- we've got a good mix there of information. The 15 (Clint Bowyer) and the 56 team have worked so well together all year long -- all three of our cars have. I don't expect a lot to change whether they're in or out. We're still going to continue to help each other as much as we have all year long -- that's been a big part of the reason for our success and we're just going to try to keep doing what we've been doing. Hopefully, we just step it up a notch."

What does it mean to MWR to get two of the three Toyotas in the Chase? "It means a lot. Toyota's been so instrumental in the building of our team, especially over the last year. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has been a huge part of the turnaround at Michael Waltrip Racing. For us, we're really proud to be able to put two cars in there for them -- they've done so much for the company, obviously since Michael (Waltrip, team owner) started it in '07, they've been a huge part of Michael Waltrip Racing. It's really cool to be able to get two cars in there for them."

What have you learned from watching the Chase in the past? "It's only 10 races and it's like one bad one can really spoil it for you. You just have to hope. The first time I was in the Chase, we got caught up in a Dover wreck when somebody blew a tire and we went to Talladega and got destroyed. We went to Kansas and they had a rain delay and the field switched with the pit strategy deal and we got in a wreck as soon as we dropped the green. You can be out of the thing before you even know it. We just have to go in with an open mind -- I'm not putting a whole lot of pressure on myself or my team to do anything crazy. We just need to do what we can and hope that nothing bad gets in our way."

How will you approach the Chase? "We're going to go out and race like we have all year long -- we're in this Chase because we've been fast enough and we've been consistent enough, running up front -- that we don't have to worry about 30 of those guys most of the time. We're just going to go out there and race like we do every week and try to win every weekend. If we can't win, we'll do the best job we can. With the momentum we have right now, I feel like we can get up there and run up front consistently and again, if we can be in the hunt with two or three to go then I think we'll have a chance because we've got some good tracks at the end of the season."

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