NASCAR: What Should Have Clint Bowyer Done?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The most recent outburst by Clint Boyer at Richmond highlights the struggles of his 2016 season. If he had a chance to do it over again what options should he have considered?

Only one week removed from his best performance of the 2016 season at Bristol, Clint Bowyer was venting on his HScott Motorsports team over the radio. This is the second time in three weeks he has let his frustrations be known. In an interview with Lee Spencer, Bowyer talked about his frustrations with the struggles at HScott Motorsports.

"“I would be lying if I didn’t tell you it’s a lot worse than I thought — than I was ready for but, I was hired to come in here and help them get better. Just driving the car isn’t necessarily that sometimes. Sometimes you have to get behind the scenes and open doors for them using your past experiences, your past relationships and try to get a better path for them —not only for this year.”“Everybody wants to say — even me — ‘they did better than this last year. What’s going on here? What am I not doing?’ I can tell you what the difference is, all the teams that they outran last year formed alliances,” Bowyer said. “Look at Front Row, they’ve got an alliance with Roush Racing. Look at BK Racing, they bought all of my old cars that qualified 20th and ran 15th on average.”"

Not exactly statements that are going to win you a lot of points in the team meetings. Then Bristol and Bowyer posted his best finish of the season, 8th. That smile was back and everything seemed to be smoothing out. Then they unloaded at Richmond and were only able to post the second slowest time in Fridays practice. That time turned out to be used for qualifying after qualifying itself was rained out. Saturdays practice things got worse when the car started smoking from under the hood and from Bowyer’s helmet. He keyed the radio and let the fireworks go.

"“I’ve never been with such a (expletive) unprepared (expletive) team in my life,” he said on team radio. “It’s a (expletive) joke. No power steering. (Expletive) put this in the truck and go home.”"

Not exactly a pep talk to get your crew to work for you. Bowyer has spent several years now in sub par equipment. Having ridden out the final couple of seasons at Michael Waltrip Racing as they went through their financial struggles and eventually closed. He was able to finish 2105 strong getting his #15 car into the case finishing the season 16th in points. He moved to HScott Motorsports in what he though was gong to be HMS equipment that turned out to be not what he expected.

"“It’s definitely not (SHR) and it’s not a Hendrick Motorsports car either,” Bowyer said. “If you wreck a car or need a new car, you reach to one of those organizations and order a car but what you do with that car after that is the ingredients that make up the difference between a fast car and a slow car.”"

Its hard to believe that its was 2012 since Bowyer last visited victory lane in the Sprint Cup series.  Having 8 victories to his credit, Bowyer has been one of the most popular drivers in the series. His personality has been so electric he was asked to join the FOX booth for the Xfinity race in Atlanta earlier this year where he did an outstanding job. Its hard to believe that the radio transmission from Bowyer were from the same driver.

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His relationship with Tony Stewart led to him being a natural fit to take over the seat of the SHM car Tony Stewart is vacating at the end of 2016. The only problem was there was on full year for Bowyer to figure out what to do with. None of the top teams want to bring a driver in for one season, even one as popular as Bowyer. So it was a short list of smaller teams that had to be Chevrolet as that was the make he was going into at SHM. That is what we all thought, until the announcement the SHM was switching to Fords.

When Bowyer was making his decision, HSM was about the only seat available for him in Sprint Cup. Justin Allgaier has some respectable runs in the 51 last season with five top 20’s in the first nine races of 2015. These results have not been replicated in 2016 as the team has only been able to score 2 top 20’s.

Looking back, was staying in Sprint Cup even in lesser equipment the best decision Bowyer could have made? Kurt Busch in the 51 then owned by Phoenix racing and Casey Kahne with Red Bull Racing were able to make it work for single season stints. Times have changed with the testing ban, there is so little time to gel as a team and figure each other out.

Would stepping back into the Xfinity Series in a car from one of the top teams made more sense? Dale Jr has been willing to put veteran drivers in his equipment and Bowyer had sponsorship with him. Would a season of contending every week in the Xfinity Series and getting his confidence back up have been a better option than running in the back of the pack every week?

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His performance in the FOX booth for the Xfinity race was fantastic. Spending some time in there might have helped both his image and bring more people to the broadcasts. He attracts a younger audience with his 5 hour energy sponsorship and outgoing personality. Sliding him in place of Darrel Waltrip with Jeff Gordon for a few cup races would have been a very interesting combination. The two different driving styles and personalities would have created a dynamic during the broadcast that has been sorely missing.

At this point you would have to think Bowyer would rather be traveling the country driving his dirt late model than running in the back of the pack every week. After his last two blow ups towards his team, they might wish he was sliding in the dirt as well. All we can be sure of is that this is not working and the likelihood of this surviving the season seems slim. It is rough watching on of NASCAR’s most popular drivers struggling the way he is. You can only hope that the ending comes soon and without something being said or done that causes permanent damage.