Kansas Native Bowyer Returns to Home Track With Optimism and Confidence

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

Kansas City, Kan. — While it’s not atypical for there to be a “buzz” around the energetic and enthusiastic Clint Bowyer, that meter tends to rise even higher when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule comes back around to Kansas Speedway.

Bowyer is a native of Emporia, Kansas — a town just over 100 miles southwest of Kansas Speedway — and has a much larger fan presence when the series heads to the intermediate oval in Kansas City, including several friends and family members who attend the event.

With that said, Kansas Speedway isn’t one of Bowyer’s strongest tracks. In 17 races, Bowyer has an average finish of 17.2. He hasn’t finished in the top 10 at this track since 2013 and has only led 48 laps since his first start at Kansas Speedway in 2006.

“Well, a mile-and-a-half repave has never been my strong suit, it just hasn’t, no matter where it is in the country,” said Bowyer in a Friday morning media availability. “The last year or two it has really widened this track out. The outside groove has come in and the racing has been a lot better since that first race. It always gets better. I am looking forward to that.”

Despite a lack of success at this track in recent years, Bowyer feels there is reason to be optimistic and most of that stems from the performance he has enjoyed with his new team this season.

“The biggest thing is that you don’t even think about that anymore,” Bowyer continued. “You don’t think about your past. It is a clean slate every time I go to the track with Mike (Bugarewicz, crew chief) and the guys on the 14 car, everybody at Stewart Haas, it has been better. There is no reason to think it won’t be better this week. I know Mike was excited about the car and he knows that this is an important one for me. He knows that I need to run better on these types of race tracks. Looking back at Vegas, that was solid. Texas was solid. Atlanta was solid. We can better that and be a part of the show here at Kansas.”

Bowyer moved to Stewart-Haas Racing from HScott Motorsports over the offseason and, as such, finds himself in perhaps the best position to win at his home track in quite a while — maybe ever.

Outside of the season-opening Daytona 500, the driver of the No. 14 car has completed every lap of every race this season, has four top 10s in first 10 races, and has finished in the top 15 in every race.

The challenge is that Bowyer hasn’t spent very much time up front, leading only 10 laps all year and all 10 of those laps were last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, a much larger and different type of racetrack than the mile-and-a-half track of Kansas Speedway.

Still, Bowyer feels like he and his team are building momentum early, which will eventually lead to a trip to Victory Lane.

“You look back and California has always been a good track for me and we ran third there, showed some potential,” said Bowyer. “In Bristol, had I got out in front of the 48 I would have won the race. We are knocking on the door. We aren’t knocking enough but last week we led some laps and showed potential again.It takes the total package.You have to put it together. It all starts with consistency, running up front on a consistent manner week in and week out. We have a good baseline established and that is with no notes or nothing to work with. No experience with one another. No communication. We are learning all those things and you can see it getting better each week. Where you get excited is going back to these tracks a second time and having a notebook established and line of communication down where you know what to expect and capitalize and better your position. Some of those races, better would be a win.”

If that happens this weekend at Kansas Speedway, Bowyer would snap a 159-race winless streak. His last Cup Series victory happened back in the 2012 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“If that was to happen, I probably wouldn’t be in very good shape for Mother’s Day,” Bowyer said, referencing this Sunday’s Mother’s Day holiday. “We would probably have to postpone that to Monday. It would be huge to win at home and finally seal the deal after all this time. It would be ultra-special. I don’t know that it would be any more special than the first time I raced here though. It is one of the tracks I have always wanted to win at. All my family and friends and people that helped me get to where I am today all live here in the area and it would be cool to celebrate that with them.”

The “Go Bowling 400” begins at 7:30PM ET on Saturday, May 13th, 2017 and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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