Emporia, Kan., native Clint Bowyer has not had the season he had hoped for heading into this week’s homecoming at Kansas Speedway.
In his first year with Stewart-Haas racing, Bowyer finished the regular season 17th in the points race, just one spot shy of making NASCAR’s Monster Energy Series playoffs. His winless streak has continued through the year, and he still hasn’t reached victory lane since October of 2012 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Bowyer’s frustration reached its tipping point last week at Talladega (Ala.) when he was involved in a 16-car wreck, then voiced his frustration with crew chief Mike Bugarewicz on the pit box.
Bugarewicz initially thought the team could fix the car enough to get Bowyer back on the track, but thanks to a new NASCAR rule the car was not fit to return to the race.
“It didn’t seem like anybody could continue at Talladega last week,” Bowyer said in the Kansas Speedway media center on Friday.
With the appearance of communication issues between driver and crew chief, Bowyer was asked if he’s considering a change for 2018.
“I don’t know. It’s not time,” Bowyer said, pausing before continuing. “It is time to start thinking about that. At the end of the day, it’s about depth in our organization and building and organization.”
While Kurt Busch is still not certain to return to the No. 41 car, and Danica Patrick will not be the driver of the No. 10 car next season, the Stewart-Haas camp is still a bit unsettled.
“Who knows? There could be a lot of different things that happen in the offseason for Stewart-Haas,” Bowyer said. “I don’t know that ... time will tell and paint a lot clearer picture.
“I know that I’m going to be there.”
After spending the first six full years of his career with Richard Childress Racing, Bowyer joined Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012 and eventually spent last season with HScott Motorsports. Now, he enjoys the comfort of knowing he has a firm future with Stewart-Haas but knows the team must overcome some growing pains before it can taste success.
Stewart-Haas underwent numerous changes last offseason, including the change from Chevrolet to Ford.
“There’s just so much change. It’s just not me,” Bowyer said. “I wasn’t the only piece of the puzzle that changed at Stewart-Haas. The manufacturer, the whole package, it’s hard to explain what goes into uprooting your whole system.”
Racing at home this weekend, he is ready to get back to victory lane and see his team turn the corner.
“It’s been a long time. We’re hungry, and we’re trying,” Bowyer said. “That’s the frustrating thing about looking back on the year. We’re getting close the end, and it’s just been that way all season long.”