Clint Bowyer might be one of the happiest men in NASCAR these days, but he does have a regret he wants to remedy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
With three races left in his 16-year NASCAR Cup Series driving career and just months away from embarking on a long-term deal with FOX to call races with Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon in the television booth in 2021, Bowyer is taking time to enjoy his final days as a driver.
“I’ve told people I really never knew the meaning of bittersweet until all of this happened,” said Bowyer, who announced his planned transition from the cockpit to the television booth on Oct. 8.
“You’re kind of sad to be stopping what you have been doing all your life, but it’s also been fun to think of the things to come and reminisce with everyone about all the good times we’ve had over the years.”
Last weekend at home-state Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Bowyer served as the virtual grand marshal of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, then was honored during pre-race ceremonies for Sunday’s Cup Series race in front of 10,000. Later Sunday, Bowyer logged a disappointing 26th-place finish in his final race at the track after an extra stop to fix damage during the closing laps race ruined what looked like a probable top-10 finish.
Bowyer makes his 30th and final appearance as a driver this Sunday at Texas, where he owns four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 29 starts. Bowyer’s No. 14 will carry the colors of cornerstone partner Rush Truck Centers, headquartered near San Antonio, and Cummins.
Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner on the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. The team from Rush Truck Centers and Rush Enterprises, including company Chairman, CEO and President Rusty Rush, are regular race-goers supporting Bowyer and SHR.
Bowyer considers them to be among his closest friends.
“Everyone has been asking me the last two weeks if there is anything I wished I had done differently or better and things like that,” he said.
“As a racer, you always want to win more races or lead more laps. But the one thing I haven’t done that I really wish I could do is see Rusty Rush and all the Rush folks in victory lane. It’s funny over the years on the 14 car, no matter if Tony (Stewart) or I were driving, we’ve never been to victory lane with Rusty Rush. It was always one of our other partners on the car when we won. Rusty has been our staunchest supporter, so I really feel like we owe it to him.”
Bowyer can’t imagine a victory lane and post-win party with Rush in Texas.
“Here is the thing you need to know about Rusty,” he said. “Rusty flew to my house the night we won at Martinsville in 2018 and joined the victory celebration and stayed up all night with us. That shows you what kind of person he is and his dedication to this team. We only have a few more chances to do this and all of us would love nothing better than to deliver a victory for Rusty and all the Rush Truck Centers folks Sunday in Texas. God forbid we win Sunday in Texas, with Rusty, we might never make it home.”
Rush Truck Centers has used Bowyer and the team to appeal to NASCAR fans as one way to recruit the technicians it needs to operate the largest network of commercial truck and bus dealerships in the country, with locations in 22 states.
“Rush Truck Centers keeps our trucks and transporters in great condition, and you could argue those are the most important parts of our race team,” said Bowyer, who before COVID-19 normally spent time with Rush customers and guests each weekend.
"Without them, our cars never get to the racetrack. The employees of Rush Truck Centers are as detail-oriented as we are, and their technicians are the heartbeat of their dealerships. They play a critical role in the success of our race team.”
Cummins makes its fifth appearance of the 2020 season with Bowyer. The Indiana-based company from car owner Stewart’s hometown of Columbus is no stranger to victory lane with its racing lineage dating back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, when company founder Clessie Cummins was on the pit crew of the race-winning Marmon Wasp of driver Ray Harroun. Since its founding in 1919, the company now employs approximately 61,600 people and serves customers in about 190 countries and territories through a network of some 8,000 wholly owned and independent dealer and distributor locations. While Cummins is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions, it is best known for its diesel truck engines.
If Bowyer does earn that elusive victory for Rush Truck Centers and Cummins this weekend, it will go a long way to capping a career, as well as remedying one of his few regrets.