Good news kept coming NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer’s way on Monday.
In the morning, Bowyer and his wife, Lorra, learned they were expecting their first child.
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Then, about noon, Bowyer found assurance that he will be able to comfortably provide for his new wife and son after signing a multiyear contract extension with Michael Waltrip Racing and 5-hour Energy drink to continue driving the No. 15 Toyota.
So it was a giddy Bowyer who planned to arrive home in Emporia today and celebrate the two occasions with his family while preparing to race on Saturday night at his home track, Kansas Speedway.
“This is something we both have been wanting for a while, ever since our nieces and nephews started showing up, it was like we’ve got to have some,” Bowyer said of parenthood. “We’ve got our first shot at a racer, and who knows what we’ll have after that.”
Bowyer had an inkling something good was going to happen this week after 5-hour signed on last week as title sponsor for Saturday’s race, the first Sprint Cup night event at Kansas Speedway and the 300th Sprint Cup start of his career.
“Never once have I ever been nervous about 5-hour’s commitment to our sport and to me,” said Bowyer, 34. “It’s a great partner, it fits our lifestyle in what we do in the sport. It fits the demographic of our fans, it’s a great relationship and a good fit.”
Still, it was a relief to sign the extension, which is believed to be for another three years and also includes Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie
“5-hour committing and moving forward with MWR is a huge step,” Bowyer said. “A lot of people were waiting around to see what was going to happen. It did weigh on everybody.
“Everybody was worried about their future, no different than I was,” Bowyer said. “It’s hard to go through this thing. That’s why they decided to get it done early and not wait until later on in the season when you’re frantically trying to figure out what the future holds.”
Bowyer began his Sprint Cup career in 2005 with Richard Childress Racing and has eight career Sprint Cup victories, including a career-best three in 2012, his first year with Waltrip Racing. He has qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup five times, finishing a career-best second in 2012.
However, 5-hour re-evaluated its sponsorship last year after Bowyer and Waltrip Racing were severely penalized for trying to manipulate the final regular-season race at Richmond. The controversy cost the team the support of longtime sponsor NAPA, causing Waltrip to shut down the No. 55 team.
“We have clearly aligned ourselves with one of the most competitive and energetic drivers in racing and we felt it was really important for us to continue the equity we have built over the past three years,” said 5-hour president Scott Henderson, whose company will be the primary sponsor for 24 of the car’s 36 races each year, starting in 2015.
Bowyer is proud of the fact he’s about to make his 300th career start.
“You look back, and the racer in you says, ‘Man I’ve got to get off my butt and win some more races,’ ” Bowyer said. “It’s hard to believe I’ve run 300 races and I haven’t won any more than this but “There is something to be said for being around for 300 races and still being a part of the sport and getting an extension to be in more races down the road,” Bowyer said. “That tells you you’re doing something right, so I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and I don’t think we’re done.”
Bowyer hasn’t won a Sprint Cup race since Charlotte in October 2012, a span of 51 starts, but after a slow start this season, he had a solid third-place finish on Sunday at Talladega, moving him into 18th in the standings..
“We’ve had a shot at winning more in these last 10 races more than I’ve had in a long time,” Bowyer said. “Look at Martinsville, we were a bad pit stop from winning California we were right there but blew a tire with a lap to go Talladega was another prime example. We were ready to pounce but a caution came out ... those breaks that could have just as easily gone the other way, are the breaks you need to win these races.
“Our cars have been fast on these 1.5-mile tracks, and we’re as capable of winning at Kansas as I’ve been in a long time.”