NASCAR & Auto Racing

With new NASCAR team, Emporia’s Clint Bowyer looks for bigger things in 2017

Clint Bowyer on Carl Edwards and intensity of the chase

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer will race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. He was asked who had more fans, he or Carl Edwards, the other local favorite. Bowyer also talked about the intensity of the chase for the championship.
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NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer will race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. He was asked who had more fans, he or Carl Edwards, the other local favorite. Bowyer also talked about the intensity of the chase for the championship.

Next year can’t come soon enough for Clint Bowyer.

As the Chase for the Sprint Cup makes its critical second stop at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Bowyer isn’t part of the fun.

Bowyer, who qualified 31st on Friday, will start the Hollywood Casino 400 outside the Chase, while counting down the races in a stop-gap 2016 season for HScott Motorsports.

Next year, Bowyer will replace the retiring three-time series champion Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing, joining the team of Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Bowyer said. “It will be a neat atmosphere and something that 10 years into (Cup racing), one of the best opportunities ever is at your doorstep, fixing to happen.”

Until then, Bowyer, who hails from Emporia, Kan., will continue to battle in his No. 15 5-Hour Energy Chevrolet and seek his first victory since 2012.

His eyes will be on the road, his mind on 2017.

“It’s always natural to start thinking about next year,” Bowyer said. “You better be this time of year no matter if you’re moving or staying the same and nothing changes.”

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Things will change for Bowyer, and he hopes his fortunes will, as well. In 30 starts this year, there have been no top fives for the eight-time winner, and his average finish is 23.5.

“I’ve never struggled like this,” Bowyer said. “I take some of the blame too. It’s not one thing. It’s so many things that go into these race cars, it’s just amazing.”

Bowyer made a gesture, pointing behind where he was sitting, and compared the difficulty this year to his successful Lakeside Speedway days.

“I used to race down there and win championships and win races and it didn’t matter,” Bowyer said. “I knew I was going to win.”

Now?

“It’s a situation where those roles are reversed and you don’t have the upper hand on those guys,” he said. “It’s a hell of a challenge, and that is where we’re at right now. Hopefully, you get in a situation where those doubts and those things are out of you and those gremlins are out of your head and you can compete in the level that you know you are capable of.”

The key, Boywer said, is to take the lessons from this season and apply them to next year.

“You’ve got to use it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what comes at you, it doesn’t matter how low you’re running or how good you’re running you’ve got to take something out of this.”

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

Kansas Speedway this weekend...

Here’s the schedule of events at Kansas Speedway leading up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 16.

Times and events are subject to change. All times Central.

Friday, Oct. 14

7 p.m.: ARCA driver introductions

7:30 p.m.: ARCA race

Saturday, Oct. 15

6 a.m.: Parking lots open

8 a.m.: Grandstand gates open

10 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice

11 a.m.: NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying

12:30 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice

1:20 p.m.: NASCAR Xfinity Series driver introductions

2 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Kansas Lottery 300

Sunday, Oct. 16

6 a.m.: Parking lots open

8 a.m.: Grandstand gates open

About 9:30 a.m.: Pre-race gates open for access to infield

About 11:30 a.m.: Blackberry Smoke concert

12:45 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver introductions

1:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400

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