Clint Bowyer has a guaranteed method to ensure he sleeps soundly at night during the Round of 16 portion of the 10-race, 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoffs that continue Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway before concluding the following Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
“It’s pretty simple – you win Richmond Saturday night and don't worry about a thing until the next round,” said Bowyer, who is making his third consecutive and ninth career playoff appearance in 2020. “Anything less and you are going to lay awake a lot of nights.”
A strong run Saturday night is key if Bowyer hopes to advance beyond the Round of 16, which began Sunday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
“You don’t want your season’s hopes and dreams coming down to Bristol, where anything can and probably will happen,” Bowyer said. “You want to get your work done this weekend in Richmond. Nobody wants to go to Bristol knowing they have to have a great finish to advance to the next round. I love Bristol, but that race is going to be wild and I’d prefer we be in really good shape before we get there. I’d like to win Richmond Saturday night, then go watch all the other guys sweat it out in Bristol.”
The Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver arrives at Richmond 13th in points after finishing 10th in the playoff opener at Darlington. To advance to the second round, which begins in two weeks, Bowyer must be in the top-12 among the 16 playoff drivers after the Richmond and Bristol races. A win at either track means an automatic berth into the next playoff round. He heads to Richmond tied for the final of the 12 transfer spots.
Bowyer has a realistic chance of getting that victory at Richmond and enjoying a pressure-free weekend at Bristol. He has two Cup Series wins, five top-fives and 16 top-10s in 28 starts at the three-quarter-mile Richmond oval. Bowyer also earned a NASCAR Xfinity Series victory there in 2007. Bowyer has earned top-10 finishes in the last four Cup Series races at Richmond.
“Past success doesn’t mean you can just show up and good things happen,” he said. “We have to go there with the mindset that we need to be mistake free and do everything we need to do to run well. I have said, if we can avoid making mistakes, this team can go a lot of rounds in these playoffs.”
This weekend, Bowyer’s No. 14 Mustang will carry the decals of the Ford Performance Racing School, which is based in Tooele, Utah, approximately 30 minutes southwest of Salt Lake City, and also has operations at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Along with high-performance driving instruction, the school conducts tire-training courses for BFGoodrich and Michelin, as well as product-focused experiential driving programs for owners of Ford Performance vehicles at no charge.
Ford Performance Racing School is the only school to wear the Ford oval and offers high performance driving courses to anyone interested, including one-day and two-day programs on the road course and oval at Charlotte. For more information, visit www.
It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say about as many Fords can be seen at the racing school as in this year’s playoffs. Ford Mustangs comprise half the 16-car field. SHR’s four-Mustang contingent of Bowyer and teammates Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Cole Custer lead the way as the only organization to place all of its cars in the playoffs. Last year, then-SHR driver Daniel Suarez fell just four points shy of earning a playoff berth, otherwise this would have marked the third consecutive year SHR placed all four of its drivers in the playoffs.
“I think Ford placing eight Mustangs in the playoffs is just the result of the commitment Ford has to this sport,” Bowyer said. “They love NASCAR. In fact, they love all racing. It takes a lot of desire to have that type of success in our sport and it really pays off. I love having that blue Ford logo on my racecar.”
His Ford oval in victory lane Saturday night at Richmond could make for peaceful nights for Bowyer next week, and that’s just the way he wants it.