A hero’s welcome awaits Clint Bowyer’s return to his native Kansas this week.
And why not? Bowyer, who switched teams at the conclusion of 2011 – from Richard Childress Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing – is riding a high that well could take the Emporia native straight to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Bowyer’s third and latest victory of the year last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway boosted the 33-year-old veteran to fourth in Chase standings, 28 points behind leader Brad Keselowski. He’s enjoying a career-best season – most wins, top fives (eight) and top 10s (19).
For Bowyer – and MWR, in the Chase for the first time – change is good. He’s among active drivers who’ve boosted their competitive standing by swapping teams. Among them are Kyle Busch, eight victories in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing; Mark Martin, a five-time winner in his debut with Hendrick Motorsports and Tony Stewart, whose decision to co-own Stewart-Haas Racing was good for four wins in 2009 and a third NASCAR Sprint Cup title two years later.
Bowyer has three top 10s at the “old” Kansas Speedway including a second place in 2007. He finished seventh in last year’s Hollywood Casino 400 but was 36th in May’s STP 400. His Driver Rating is 85.7 – 15th best among active drivers.
Momentum, the will to win and a brand-new racing surface could make Bowyer a tough driver to beat in Sunday’s race and beyond. “If we could possibly pull this off again in Kansas, it would be, that’s my, do you dare say Daytona 500? But it truly is. That’s the biggest race you can possibly win in front of your hometown,” said Bowyer following his Bank of America 500 victory.