[media-credit name=”Michael Waltrip Racing” align=”alignright” width=”224″][/media-credit]This weekend at Talladega Super Speedway, Clint Bowyer is running a special University of Alabama National Championship paint scheme.
“The Alabama partnership came along with Aaron’s, and the SEC partnership that they have after they had Alabama on it, and winning the National Championship this year,” he says. “Certainly a KU fan, but respect all athletics and certainly respect what they’ve accomplished in the past years. It’s going to be fun to have the Alabama colors for one day.”
Along with the car, Bowyer will wear a helmet that has a picture of iconic Alabama head coach Paul Bear Bryant.
“It was actually my idea about the helmet,” he says. “I always have icons on the back of my helmets. I’ve had them on my helmet all year long. Trying to think of something to do with Alabama, it was only fitting to have Bear Bryant on the back of it. So it’s a pretty cool helmet that Nick Pastura painted for me.”
In 12 starts at Talladega, Bowyer has two wins, four top fives and six top 10 finishes.
“I just want to get down there and hopefully have the same success we’ve had over the past couple of years,” he says “Talladega is good to me, had a lot of fun there, and I can’t think of anything bigger than to win in Talladega Alabama than with the Alabama car.”
In his last three Talladega starts, he has two wins and Bowyer says it takes the whole package – a good car, a good driver and luck.
“It seems like with the two-car tandems, you could manipulate that a little bit more,” he says. “You could control what was going on and have a game plan and see it out more than you do now. It seems like if you get behind, you can be the best driver in the world with the fastest car. If the hole’s not there, you can’t make one. If they’re three and trying four-wide in front of you and you’ve got a big head of steam coming, there is nothing can you do but checkup and fall back in line.”
Bowyer says he preferred the tandems over the pack racing as he liked the team work.
“I kind of liked the team work and working with each other and getting the most out of each other and making a game plan, and working on it, perfecting it, and seeing it play out at the end,” he adds. “It was pretty fun and gratifying for me.”
Though at Daytona in February, NASCAR adjusted the rules with regards to the cooling systems and aerodynamics of the front ends of the racecars in an effort to break up the two-car tandems. The result was the return of pack racing, to the delight of many fans.
“Well, I think it’s going to be more of the same of what we saw at Daytona,” he says. “Exactly that and probably a little bit more, more in room to get away with moves and things that you do on the racetrack. Temperatures are quite a bit higher than we had at Daytona, so it’s going to be interesting to see if we have any temperature problems, and, if we do, what adjustments will be made to fix that and to help us along.”
The adjustments that NASCAR made saw the cars get hot quicker, which resulted in the tandems breaking up. However, Bowyer says it’s a fine line as they can’t be overheating while running in a pack in an effort to keep the tandems at bay.
“Probably whatever rule, they’ll still have to manage that very situation of running in the pack and not overheating until the time’s right and go for it,” he adds.
This will mark Bowyer’s second restrictor plate race with Michael Waltrip Racing as he won his previous two Talladega races with Richard Childress Racing. In the transition to MWR, there have been some changes that Bowyer has had to get used to.
“But it is amazing the mentality and the thought process, how everything’s different,” he says. “That was a hard adjustment to get used to. Anything as simple as the way they scale a car. I remember going to the first test and seeing them scale a car. It was lining, well, that’s not right. You get to thinking about it, and it’s like well, it’s the same thing, just a different way of doing it. It still gets to the same destination.
“So it was kind of difficult and weird to get used to some of those things. But I tell you, it’s been a breath of fresh air. I’ve really enjoyed the people I’m working with. I love my crew chief; I think he’s done a great job. My teammates. It’s just a perfect recipe right now going on at MWR.”
It has turned out to success on track as Bowyer has finished in the top 10 four times and sits 12th in the standings.