Clint Bowyer has some lofty goals for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval, the first of three races in the Round of 12 of this year’s playoffs.
Obviously, Bowyer wants to win the 400-mile race and earn the free pass to the next round. If not a victory, then he’d like to begin scoring enough points so he will be in the top eight after the Oct. 4 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Oct. 11 race on the “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, when NASCAR trims the playoff field from 12 to eight drivers.
While he is making his wish list, Bowyer also would like to find a cancer cure.
“We’ve got to get out to Las Vegas and swing for the fence,” Bowyer said, talking about his competition strategy and certainly describing efforts to fight the elusive disease.
“These are the playoffs – you don’t base hit it,” he said. “‘Steady Eddie’ got us through the first round, but from here on you’ve got to get up to the plate and swing for the fence every time, and every decision, and that’s in the car and out of the car. We’ve got to lay it on the line and go for it, and that’s why these playoffs are fun.”
Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang will carry the colors of longtime supporter One Cure, whose mission is to find a cancer cure through research benefiting man’s best friend – the dog.
The One Cure project is led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. It is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.
The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 of them enrolled in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.
Bowyer’s Las Vegas paint scheme will call special attention to the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS) created to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention of cancer. If successful, this study could provide important justification for eventually looking at a similar approach in humans.
VACCS will be the largest clinical trial conducted to date for canine cancer. Its goal is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention, rather than treatment, of dogs with cancer. Healthy dogs of certain breeds, 5.5 years or older, will be randomized to receive either a series of vaccines similar to other routine vaccines that are given to dogs currently, or placebo vaccines. Dogs will live at home and be checked two to three times yearly for five years after enrollment.
The hope is that vaccinated dogs will have a lower rate of cancer development. If so, this could lead to advances to prevent cancer, in the first place in pets, and perhaps also in people. A financial incentive will be offered to defray the cost associated with diagnostics and treatment of any cancers that dogs develop, regardless of whether they are receiving vaccine or placebo.
The goal is to enroll 800 dogs in the study. Race fans interested in enrolling their pet to play a key role in helping find a vaccine to prevent cancer, or those interested in donating, may do so at www.Vaccs.org.
The paint scheme of Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang at Las Vegas will picture two dogs already enrolled in the study.
“I hope what One Cure is doing will make life better for pets and humans in the coming years,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows how much my family and I value animals. Whether it’s our dogs, pigs, goats or any of our farm animals, there have always been pets around my house. And everyone knows someone whose life has been touched by cancer. I couldn’t think of many things better than finding a cancer cure.”
The decal on the roof of Bowyer’s racecar that normally displays his name will be replaced Sunday by the name of 10-year-old cancer survivor Claire Kochenower of Houston, Texas. Her name will ride on Bowyer’s car as part of the Martin Truex Jr., and NASCAR foundations’ Nominate a Cancer Hero program. Bowyer has been a favorite of the Kochenower family, and even one of Claire’s teddy bears is a Bowyer fan.
Bowyer hopes to take her name to victory lane on Sunday, or at least get a good start in the Round of 12. More importantly, maybe the attention generated by Bowyer’s paint scheme and the work done by One Cure can lead to an even greater victory for Claire and millions like her.