Martinsville Speedway is the smallest track on which the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The half-mile oval also has one of the most iconic trophies on the circuit. A seven-foot tall grandfather clock serves as the track’s official award for making it to victory lane.
Clint Bowyer has never won one of those coveted trophies but he has come close numerous times including last year’s race when he finished second. That finish was followed by a third-place run in the fall. In total Bowyer has 10 top-10 finishes in 16 starts at the paper-clip-shaped track. He also ranks in the top 10 in NASCAR’s loop data, a statistical analysis of key categories used to rate drivers.
His stats coupled with a strong run last weekend at Auto Club Speedway leave little doubt that Bowyer, driving the No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, will once again be a contender this weekend. For Bowyer, it’s time to add a grandfather clock to his trophy collection and Martinsville is the perfect place to accomplish that.
What are your secrets to short track racing at Martinsville? “I wish I knew. I guess I’ve learned Martinsville because when I first went there the first couple of seasons in the sport that was the one race track that I couldn’t wait to leave -- I was terrible, I hated it -- every aspect of it. Everything in your natural tendencies as a race car driver doesn’t hold true there. Alright, I have to pass this guy in front of me, well I have to get in the corner deeper than him, I have to pick up the gas sooner than him and both of those things it took me about 27 times there before I ever figured it out. It seems like we’re onto something. (Brian) Pattie (crew chief) has really helped me. We’ve focused hard on Martinsville. Studied it, tested a lot of tracks in preparation for Martinsville and got a good setup underneath of us. We’ve taken that all there and have been solid ever since.”
How would you assess your season so far? “We’ve been fast off the truck every weekend. We’ve had speed and been good in practice and qualifying. Our finishes just don’t show it. We had a good run going at Las Vegas and were going to have a great finish last weekend at California. Shoot we had a shot at the win there and just had more bad luck with the tire going down there at the end. We’ve got things going in the right direction. We just need a little luck to go our way. We’ve been running too well not to have better finishes to show for all our hard work.”