By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: 13
Career Wins: 10
Last season was a banner year for Clint Bowyer, as he finally broke through for his first wins with Stewart-Haas Racing en route to his best points finish since 2013.
The Emporia, Kansas native absolutely dominated at Martinsville in April, leading 215 of the final 216 laps of the race to break a winless streak dating back to October 2012 at Charlotte. With the monkey finally off his back, Bowyer and the No. 14 team added a second win at Michigan in June, securing their place in the postseason.
Along with the two wins, Bowyer added nine top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes, and 490 laps led to his season total before finishing 12th in the final season standings after being eliminated from the Playoffs in the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix.
“We’ve had a good year,” Bowyer said of his 2018 season. “My guys have worked hard and had a lot of fun and a lot of success. We’re ready for a break, but it won’t be long, and we’ll be ready to go to Daytona and start the new season.”
Looking ahead to the 2019 season, it should be more of the same for Bowyer and SHR as they come into the year with their sights set squarely on repeating their success from last year and improving on it even further with the new Ford Mustang model.
The only thing that may be standing in their way is the new aerodynamic package being rolled out this season. The Ford teams have always been stout in a restrictor plate configuration and fellow SHR driver Kevin Harvick won the All-Star Race using a similar package, but as Bowyer alluded to in pre-season comments, it’s still a big unknown.
“To be dead honest with you, generally speaking, I don’t know what to expect,” said Bowyer. “I don’t think anybody can expect too much right now or know what to expect. I’m going to a test in Vegas out here next week. I’m looking forward to going out there and getting, I guess, that idea of the expectations going into the season under my belt firsthand.
“Of course I just said Daniel Suárez, my teammate, has been out to California and had a test with our Stewart Haas Ford Mustangs, but firsthand, I don’t really know what to expect.
“This is a drastic rule change. The face of our sport is going to be different. Time will tell what opinions are made, and certainly I’ll form my opinion when that time comes. Testing is one thing. It’ll be, what, 14, 15 cars out there next week. When you get out there with 40, it’s a whole different story.”