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Mar 12, 2014 - 04:23 PM
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It Took A While, But Bowyer Learned To Love Martinsville Speedway
Posted by: newsla on Mar 12, 2014 - 04:21 PM
It Took A While, But Bowyer Learned To Love Martinsville Speedway

Clint Bowyer paid a visit to Raleigh Tuesday night to take in an NHL game, but he couldn’t stop talking about Martinsville Speedway. It’s the track he used to love to hate. Now he just loves the historic Virginia oval.


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“It’s a driver’s race track. It’s old school. I love the setting right there in town. I mean literally there’s houses right there. It brings you back to your upbringing and why you got into this kind of racing in the first place,” Bowyer said Tuesday night during an appearance at the Carolina Hurricanes NHL matchup against the New York Rangers at the PNC Center in Raleigh.

“I think it really is one of the coolest race tracks we go to. When I have fans ask me race tracks to go to, naturally the short tracks are on my list, but people always ask ‘is it Daytona, Indy … the Brickyard, is it Vegas, Kansas?’ No, it’s Martinsville.”

Bowyer’s hockey experience Tuesday night was part of a promotional appearance for the upcoming STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30. And like hockey, Bowyer said racing at Martinsville is as about as exciting as it gets.

“It’s all about the action. It’s all about the atmosphere. As a race fan you can’t get any closer to those cars and to what we’re doing than at Martinsville,” said Bowyer. “If you are (sitting) down there in a corner watching us come at you, you see the car slipping and sliding around. I mean if they are loose you can see the whites of their eyes. You can see their hands moving. You don’t see that anywhere else and some of that is they aren’t going 200 miles an hour at Martinsville. I can say this, though. It is amazing how fast those race cars are going around that little race track as flat as it is.”

Bowyer has been amazing at Martinsville the last couple of years, posting three top-five finishes in the previous four races and was in the top 10 in all four. It hasn’t always been that way though for the driver of the 5-Hour Energy Camry.

“Believe it or not, when I first started in my career, Martinsville was a track I hated to go to; now it is one of my most favorite to go to,” said Bowyer.

In his first 12 starts at Martinsville, beginning in 2006, Bowyer had just one top-five finish. While he was managing top 20 finishes, he wasn’t challenging for wins and he was struggling. Finally Bowyer said something had to change.

“I got kicked around out there for years. I was so bad at Martinsville, I said take me somewhere to test and work just on Martinsville. We worked on braking and the car rolling with speed and forward bite, but really what we went and worked on was me disciplining myself … not over-driving the corner, not picking up the gas too soon, all the things that hinder you from having a good run at Martinsville. It’s been a long, hard-fought battle, but we keep knocking on the door.”

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