NASCAR & Auto Racing

Clint Bowyer riding high as he returns to Kansas

NASCAR’s Clint Bowyer is so happy with his Sprint Cup team’s performance, he’d just as soon not have this weekend off.

But Bowyer, who is second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, has been anything but idle this week. He returned to his own stomping grounds on Tuesday night and competed in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., with his two Clint Bowyer Racing drivers.

“A terrible night for Clint Bowyer,” he joked, “but it was a good night for Clint Bowyer Racing.”

On Saturday, Bowyer will hold his annual charity golf outing in his hometown of Emporia. The sold-out event includes golf, dinner, an auction and live entertainment.

Bowyer expects to raise about $350,000 for his 79 Fund, which provides services and scholarships through the Emporia Community Fund. To date, Bowyer’s 79 Fund has donated more than $1.5 million to his hometown.

“We definitely focus on kids, first and foremost,” said Bowyer, 34. “The neatest thing about the golf tournament and charity stuff, you just have so much fun. Everybody has a smile on their face, everybody is having a blast, and every year, somehow, someway, it always gets bigger than the year before.”

When the Sprint Cup season resumes next week with the Brickyard 400, Bowyer will be 56 points behind Jimmie Johnson with seven races before the Chase begins. He’s been remarkably consistent with seven top five finishes this season, including three in a row at Sonoma (fifth), Kentucky (third) and Daytona (fourth) before a disappointing 13th at New Hampshire last week.

But, he’s still without a victory this season. So if the Chase started today, Bowyer would slip to the eighth seed when the points are re-set for the 10-race, 12-driver postseason.

“Obviously, making the Chase is the big thing,” said Bowyer, who in his first season driving for Michael Waltrip Racing finished second in the Chase to Brad Keselowski in 2012. “Ten races is a lot of time, a lot of things can happen. But it’s time to not worry about points and get some wins.”

Bowyer’s teammates, Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr., have won two of the last four Cup races, which gives him a little hope.

“Our wins are around the corner,” said Bowyer, whose last win was in the Chase race at Charlotte last fall. “We stubbed our toe at New Hampshire. That was frustrating because that typically is one of my best race tracks. We just missed it. It happens. It’s a humbling sport, and we were humbled last weekend.”

If Bowyer needs a win or a good result to solidify his seeding in the Chase, he can usually count on the final race before the Chase at Richmond. He’s won twice at Richmond, including the September race last year.

“Richmond is another good race track for us …” he said. “There are several tracks where we can win, but the neat thing about what we’ve got going on is we’ve been good everywhere. We’re becoming a threat to win a lot of places. We need to lead more laps and get up there, but you keep knocking on the door, getting top fives like we’ve been doing, you’re going to get wins.

“It’s time to regroup and use this weekend as a little bit of an energizer. But really, I like what I’ve seen with our team. We’re hitting our stride, we’re running strong at the right time rolling into the Chase, and I feel we can be a threat. The Chase has always been a time where we can step up to the plate and get after it.”