By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Veteran Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers like Clint Bowyer have just one takeaway from Watkins Glen International (WGI) and Sonoma Raceway for the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. The 2.28-mile oval-road course hybrid is virtually impossible to compare to NASCAR’s traditional road course events.
As Bowyer and his No. 14 Mobil 1 / Advance Auto Parts Ford Fusion team enter the Bank of America ROVAL 400, his experience in road course racing will be put to the test. In 26 Premier Series road course starts, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver has 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, including a win at Sonoma Raceway in 2012.
Sonoma is considered to be more technical than WGI, and the driving style at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, like the track itself will be a hybrid.
“You’ve got to get out there, find that rhythm, find that comfort zone and ride in it,” Bowyer said. “Take care of those Goodyear tires and pace yourself, but rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. Get in that rhythm. Don’t make mistakes. Stay on the race track. Focus on what you’re doing and that’s always been the principle that I’ve learned and went by and has always put me in the money on the road courses, so you’ve got to enjoy these weekends.”
Bowyer is one of a handful of drivers, including Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Larson that have any kind of experience on a ‘Roval.’ In 2013, he competed in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in the GT Class. Bowyer and his co-drivers started 17th (33rd overall) and finished eighth in class, 16th overall, one lap behind the class leaders.
“You can’t go into this thing scared to death and panicked and worried about anything,” Bowyer explained. “I mean, you’re driving down here and it starts raining and I’m like, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ It doesn’t do any good to worry about it or try to think about what the race is gonna hold.”
Entering the Bank of America ROVAL 400, Bowyer is 13th on the Playoff Grid, four points behind the cutoff, held by fellow Ford Performance driver Ryan Blaney. This season he has two victories, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
Bowyer also has seven road course starts in the Xfinity Series, with three top-10 finishes. Two at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico, and one at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Bowyer’s best finish on a road course in the Xfinity Series was a sixth-place in Mexico in 2008.