Clint Bowyer acted like he was the number one seed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, not at the bottom of it. Swagger is what Bowyer had Thursday afternoon at media day.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s resident funnyman was in peak form as he laughed with reporters. Facial expressions matched Bowyer’s tone and diction, like when his voice went deep with a “wreck his ass” as his eyes became pointed when jokingly saying that’s what he should have done differently with leader Martin Truex Jr. to win at Richmond earlier in the year. A wink accompanied another answer. Bowyer also took the attention of the ballroom when he told NASCAR how awkward its announcement was to the press corps about another driver being available.
A second such moment came as he sat at one station, his voice booming over a nearby Martin Truex Jr. who was also entertaining reporters.
“What the hell?” Truex laughed.
A story then followed about his car nearly being towed, which led Bowyer to wonder what he might have gotten into last night in Las Vegas. All of that just in one room in the span of 30 minutes out of Bowyer’s full day of media activities.
In other words, Bowyer was Bowyer. Loose, confident, and readily admitting now comes the fun after going through a stressful summer stretch of just trying to qualify for the postseason.
“And I’ve always thought that over my career,” he said. “Making these playoffs, it comes at a good time of year for me. Those summer months are long, grueling, and they drag on. You need a wake-up call so to speak, that shot in the arm. For me, that’s the playoffs. New purpose. You’re always racing for that win on any given Sunday or that championship, but now it’s real. Now it’s at the forefront.
“I like this new format [of] three-races, three-races, three-races, baby. It’s not 10. Screw the rest of ‘em. You got to survive three races, you got to win one of these three, and automatically onto the next round. For me, the focus factor and everything else, that’s a healthy thing for me.”
Nerves about the next 10 weeks and trying to win a championship?
“Hell no, this is fun!” Bowyer exclaimed. “We’re in the playoffs. Last week we were pooping our pants. Now it’s real. We’ve accomplished it and we have a championship to go after. It’s as simple as that. Why on earth would you be nervous about this?
“We’ve raced for the last month-and-a-half nervous. We’re used to it. All these other guys, the pressure is back on them now. It’s reset. It’s a new shot in the arm. New life for our race team and we are going to go after it.”
For the record, Bowyer is not only at the bottom of the playoff grid, but he does not have any playoff points either. That puts him 45 points behind leader Kyle Busch. Even that didn’t shake Bowyer, as he repeated the lines about “new life” and “shot in the arm” and expressed confidence in his No. 14 Ford team to grab this opportunity and score all those points.
“I’m ready to win,” said Bowyer. “They pay us to win races. I want to win Las Vegas — that would be awesome. And (then) get the hell out of here before we die!”