KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Oct. 15, 2018) – Nobody in NASCAR is counting on the power of home cooking more than No. 14 DEKALB Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Clint Bowyer this weekend when the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Bowyer is a native of Emporia Kansas, a town of 25,000 people about 110 miles from Kansas Speedway. He rightly calls the 1.5-mile oval his home track.
"Obviously, you want to win the Daytona 500, a championship, things like that, but winning at your home track is right up there," said Bowyer, who owns two top-five finishes and six top-10s in 20 starts at Kansas.
"It's always fun to go home. It's always busy to go home. Going back to Kansas Speedway, you have so many people who have made a difference and got you to where you are, you owe it to them, just like you did when they were helping you on that racecar, to go see them. To see how they're doing, see their kids now. Things have changed a lot since I've moved away and moved to North Carolina and got into this Cup racing. But, to be able to go back and see family, friends, peers, people I used to race with, businesses that used to sponsor you, it's important to me to go back and see all of those."
Bowyer will debut a new primary sponsor at SHR when he drives the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Fusion onto the Kansas track. DEKALB announced its partnership with Bowyer and SHR in August at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa inside its "Fuel Your Yield" tent. DEKALB will serve as primary sponsor for Bowyer and the No. 14 team this weekend with the brand serving as an associate partner at all other races. DEKALB has been helping farmers ensure a future of performance with industry-leading corn seed products for more than 100 years. And while driving a purpose-built racecar that puts out more than 850 horsepower is his day job, Bowyer is also a farmer in North Carolina.
"I grew up in farm country and saw firsthand the hard work that goes into growing crops and taking care of livestock," said Bowyer, who literally began his racing career on Kansas dirt by racing motocross and then Late Models at Lakeside and I-70 Speedways in Kansas City. "Farming takes time, energy and incredible attention to detail. DEKALB understands all of that, and they know what farmers need to take care of their crops. It really is an honor to represent DEKALB and spend time with their customers."
Bowyer's heart is still in Emporia, where he's a big part of the community. In March 2013, he bought the Clint Bowyer Autoplex car dealership on U.S. Highway 50, where he once worked as a lot attendant, dent specialist and detailer. Across the street sits the Clint Bowyer Community Building, constructed in 2012 thanks to a $1.5 million donation from his foundation. Inside are 25 computers at the public library. There is a scoreboard at the aquatic center, a video camera at the auditorium, shoes for the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program, backpacks for kids, Christmas trees for needy families. And, in nearby towns, playground equipment and the reconstruction of a tornado-ravaged community center – all of it and more paid for by Bowyer's foundation, or out of the driver's own pocket.
Emporia appreciates its native son, having renamed the street on which the family towing business resides as "Hon. Clint Bowyer Boulevard."
Bowyer needs a good run in Kansas much like he did at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last weekend when he finished second in the first two stages and the race. The performance put Bowyer 21 points ahead of the ninth and final cutoff position for those drivers advancing out of the Round of 12 that ends at Kansas. SHR teammate Aric Almirola's victory at Talladega marked the 56th overall win for SHR. It was the organization's milestone 50th points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and its first victory at Talladega. All four SHR drivers – Bowyer, Almirola, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch – have won races in 2018.
"We had a great weekend as a team and company in Talladega," Bowyer said. "Now, we'd like to do the same in Kansas."
CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 DEKALB Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Why should fans go to Kansas Speedway?
"I grew up going to Kansas Speedway. I grew up going by Kansas Speedway. I grew up watching Kansas Speedway getting built. You went to Wyandotte County, it was a bad part of town. It wasn't something that you see today. That speedway was solely responsible for the destination it's become of Kansas Speedway. You have the legends. You have soccer complexes. You have baseball. You have a casino, now, in the back straightaway as the latest thing. All set up on two major highways so it's easy in and out. It was the latest and greatest of what we have in racetracks today and it still is that way and it's always fun. Then, you've got barbecue. You've got Kansas City barbecue – it's the best in the world. You've got to go to Kansas Speedway."
The Chiefs game has been moved to Sunday night after the race. Are you going?
"Yes. Brett Veach is actually the GM and he called me and said, ‘Hey, the game got moved,' and he's such a big race fan. I met him in the spring at Kansas. He came over and brought a couple of players and hung out in the bus and we just kind of hit it off and I was really amazed – as big of a deal as he is in the NFL and that sport, how big of a race fan he was. I mean, he knew everything – stats, drivers, literally everything.
"He was very, very in-tune with what's going on and, anyway, he's a stat guy in the NFL, so it's no surprise that he was definitely on his game as far as our sport goes, so we've been staying in touch. He's been telling me how good they are and I've been telling him how excited I am, and I'm like, ‘Man, I'm getting to a game, just be patient with me,' and he called and said the game was moved and my butt better be there. I've got a ticket, so my butt will be there."
Thoughts on SHR's Talladega performance last weekend?
"I mean, I don't think you can write enough about the job everybody at Stewart-Haas did. Those cars were so fast. I've seen other guys, other teams, other organizations put that together before. The Hendrick organization has been there before, the Gibbs cars have done that before. It was our turn, you know what I mean? The Penske cars have done that before. We finally got all four cars to the cream of the crop. Oh my gosh, was it awesome. To be able to work together like that, we could hold on. They get runs on you and everything else, but as long as you stayed your ground, stayed in line, we'd prevail. Seemed like our cars not only were fast, they handled well at the end of the runs. We would start stretching it out on them. The Penske cars were second best. The rest were racing for whatever position after our two Fords. Can't say enough about Ford Performance, the job that everybody does there. It's a good day to be in a Ford. I mean, all you can say about that is it was a hell of a day to be in a Ford. Every time you looked in the mirror, the only thing you saw was blue ovals in the line."