Clint Bowyer feels like the Dover (Del.) International Speedway’s Monster Mile got the better of him in last year’s two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.
The No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang driver led 40 laps and came so close to victory in May before finishing second to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick. He looked ready to again battle for victory in September before late-race bad luck ended his day just a few laps short of the checkered flag.
While those races might have been the cause for frustration last year, they created optimism this week as Bowyer and the rest of the Cup Series competes at Dover on Sunday in the 11th race of the 2019 season. Bowyer owns three top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in 26 starts at Dover and hopes for that first win this weekend.
“Ever since I’ve been at SHR, we’ve seemed to have some really good cars at Dover,” Bowyer said. “We’ve been so close to taking home that Miles The Monster (a replica of the track’s 46-foot mascot) trophy. I hope we are just as good this weekend. If we are, then we have as good of chance as anyone. You’ve got to fight this ‘monster’ every lap. I won a couple of Xfinity races there — haven’t won a Cup race — but love this racetrack.”
Bowyer owns two NASCAR Xfinity Series victories at Dover. He led 70 laps and beat Matt Kenseth by .547 of a second on Sept. 23, 2006 to win his third of what would be eight Xfinity Series victories in his career. His most recent Xfinity Series victory also came at Dover, in Sept. 26, 2009, when he led 83 laps and beat Mike Bliss to the checkered flag by 1.319 seconds.
After what he considers a slow start to the 2019 season that saw him drop outside the top-15 in the standings, Bowyer has rallied over the last several races to return to the front of the field. In the four races that preceded last Sunday’s 500-mile race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, only Kyle Busch scored more points than Bowyer. An accident on lap 11 at Talladega relegated Bowyer to a 29th-place finish and dropped him from eighth to 10th in the standings.
“We won’t let what happened at Talladega slow us down,” said Bowyer, who went on to also explain why there was a slow start to the 2018 season. “We’ve run well recently, but we’ve got to start closing these things out.
“Everybody works hard in the offseason and puts in the due diligence and works hard to make sure we hit the ground running, and sometimes that doesn't work. Last year with the Stewart-Haas cars, we rolled through the West-Coast swing and came out with confidence and didn’t really need to work on much. We had a lot of strengths and a few weaknesses we needed to polish up but we really were strong early and got that points base established early, and we rode that wave on through the summer months.
“This year, we missed. We weren’t exactly where we wanted to be or where we thought we would be or where the plan was through the West-Coast swing. Once you get back with a group like we have, a group of racers in the trenches at Stewart-Haas Racing, you knew it wouldn’t take long to get to the punch and get our cars right. Meeting after meeting and talk after talk, the people, it all comes back to the people working tirelessly to get our cars turned around and I think the results the last month really proved it. We knocked on the door pretty hard and Kevin has been running well and Aric (Almirola) and Daniel (Suarez) have been running well. Our cars are good. It is exciting times right now. That first group of tracks is behind us and we have learned what we need to learn and put it to good use.”
Bowyer and all of SHR continue to bring the Mobil 1 advantage to the track each weekend and Bowyer will carry the longtime SHR partner’s colors Sunday at Dover. Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track.
In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
“They are more than just a partner,” Bowyer said. “They are every bit a part of our success as anything else on the competition side. Mobil 1 gives SHR a competition advantage with its technology and lubricants.”
He hopes to show that Sunday at the Monster Mile.