After reading the headline of this piece you may have thought this would be about Clint Bowyer’s fourth place run on Sunday in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on the road course portion of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. And indeed, the 40-year-old driver did turn in a solid effort that lifted him from below the NASCAR Playoffs cut-line coming into the race to a position that would allow him to advance on to the ‘Round of 12’ moving forward.
However, life on the modern-day Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is only partially considered successful based on a driver’s on-track performance. Scoring great finishes and moving on in the playoffs are certainly desirable things but a number of drivers have learned over the years that there is much more involved in staying in a competitive ride.
Bowyer’s contract with his Stewart-Haas Racing team is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season and there has yet to be an announcement regarding the Kansas native’s future with the team despite the fact that the season is quickly drawing to a close. Recent rumors have the driver returning to SHR for next year but nothing is certain until a finalization has been announced.
Bowyer was asked about his representatives and the team were working hard on a new contract during a media availability this past weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I don’t know,” Bowyer told the assembled press members. “It’s fine. I’m not worried about it.”
When asked if he believes he will return to the No. 14 Ford in 2019, Bowyer offered a confident reply. He then went on to explain that driving a race car involves more than turning a steering wheel. Making sure that those who provide the funding are having a good experience is perhaps the most important job of a driver and team.
“I think so,” Bowyer said. “I’m pretty confident about that. The focus right now is obviously staying in the playoffs and continuing to do what I always do and make sure that I’m forward with our partners and work hard to give them good exposure for their buck both on and off the race track and always looking to the future too.”
So back to the question within the headline of this piece.
Certainly making it to the next round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is a noteworthy accomplishment. However, without the funding no runs, good or bad, will take place. And in these days, the driver is often just as responsible for bringing in that funding as the team itself.
Bowyer is working to do his part to see that he will have a ride in 2019.
“There hasn’t been a weekend here lately where I haven’t been meeting with a new opportunity to add to our great list of partners,” he explained. “That hasn’t really changed since 2006. It’s just what we do. I enjoy that aspect of it, a lot of drivers don’t. A lot of drivers have agents and stuff like that but it’s just my brother and I and Chip. We feel like we’re plenty capable of building a relationship with them(marketing partners) first and foremost. That’s the foundation for any of these partnerships on a race car, you’ve got to have the relationship down where you work hard for one another and genuinely care about their success on and off the race track.”
As of now, indications are that Bowyer has done enough to remain with Stewart-Haas Racing … and those indications are not just coming from the track.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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