With a theme embracing “opportunity,” Clint Bowyer announced he was hanging up his helmet at the end of this season and heading to FOX Sports for the 2021 season.
The affable 41-year-old, whose personality helped to extend his NASCAR Cup career over 15 seasons—most recently with Stewart-Haas Racing, issued a two-page letter on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ClintBowyer/status/1314341481814122496?s=20) late Thursday. Bowyer chronicled his meteoric rise from a 20-something mechanic and late model racer in the Midwest to 17 seasons on NASCAR’s top tours.
A call from Richard Childress in 2003, who watched the Emporia, Kansas native finish second in an ARCA race at Nashville driving a car owned by RacinBoys’ Scott Traylor, would change the course of Bowyer’s life.
Childress recruited Bowyer to run a half-season the following year in the Xfinity Series. By 2005, Bowyer, then 26, finished second in the standings and made Cup at Phoenix Raceway. He ran for 2006 Cup rookie honors but finished second to Denny Hamlin. Bowyer’s first career Cup win came from the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2007. Under the direction of crew chief Gil Martin, he finished third in the standings in just his second full season. Bowyer won the 2008 Nationwide title with RCR the next year.
Over the next three years, Bowyer stayed the course with Childress. Certainly, 2009 was an off year for the organization. Not one of the four drivers won a race or qualified for the Playoffs but in his final two seasons in the No. 33 Chevrolet, Bowyer was continually overshadowed by Kevin Harvick.
In 2012, Bowyer started anew with Michael Waltrip Racing at the height of that organization’s success. He enjoyed his best-career season with three wins, 10 top fives and 23 top 10s with crew chief Brian Pattie calling the shots. Bowyer finished second in the standings—39 points behind champion Brad Keselowski—but would never win again in the No. 15 Toyota. He remained with MWR until the company shuttered its doors following the 2015 season.
After an unremarkable gap year with H. Scott Motorsports, where Bowyer finished 27th in points, he took over driving duties for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in 2017. Bowyer failed to win the first season and missed the Playoffs. He rallied in 2018 with two wins and his first pole in 12 seasons but hasn’t won since. Despite qualifying for the post-season over the last three years, Bowyer has yet to make it out of the Round of 8 under the current format.
In 536 Cup starts, Bowyer has amassed 10 wins, four poles, 82 top fives and 224 top 10s. This weekend at the Charlotte Roval he’ll be fighting for his Playoff life.
Just hours before posting his update, Bowyer was asked on a weekly media Zoomcast whether he had been in conversations regarding his racing for 2021.
“I talked to my wife the other night,” he replied with a chuckle. “It’s obviously time to begin those talks and Casey (brother) has been working on that stuff, but, honestly, look at the time. The timing is a crunch right now for me. I mean, it’s all about trying to get the most out of every single weekend to get through the playoffs, so, honestly, you asked me if I’ve been talking, no, I ain’t been talking. You’re trying to do the things you can do and, for me, the things that I’m good at is obviously doing the best I can do in that race car, but working with partners and trying to keep them on board.
“Times are not only tough for us with racing and everything else, they’re tough for companies, a lot of companies out there, so trying to keep them involved—figuring out where that is, how that stacks up, how you can help them help you and those are the conversations that I’m good at the kind of relations that I try to have on a daily basis with your partners and everything else regardless of your future, whether you go or whether you stay.”
Clearly, Bowyer already had a game plan—as does SHR.