One of the best road course drivers in NASCAR over the last several seasons has been Clint Bowyer. While Bowyer doesn’t have a win at Watkins Glen International, the New York track where the NASCAR Cup Series will race Sunday , since 2012 he has two top-5 finishes and two additional top-10s in seven races. Also in that time, he has a win and four additional top-5 finishes at Sonoma Raceway, and was third in the first race at the Charlotte Roval last season.
Bowyer is still looking for a win this season, in part to greatly help his chances in the playoffs. He’s currently 15th in the playoff points standings, with top 16 making the postseason.
“Watkins Glen is a good one. I’d like to win up there,” Bowyer told reporters at Martinsville Speedway Wednesday. “My wife’s family is from up there, about 25 miles from the racetrack. They’re already up there. That’d be a good one to win. We won at Sonoma. It’d be awesome to win at Watkins Glen.”
The key to Bowyer’s success on road courses has been in his equipment and feel for how to work those tracks.
“First and foremost, good equipment. You’ve got to have a fast hot rod to be able to have a strong average like that,” he said. “But taking care of business on the racetrack, staying on the racetrack. I’m telling you, those road courses, we say that all the time, you hear drivers say, ‘You’ve just go to stay on the racetrack.’ It’s like, ‘Duh,’ but I’m telling you that’s hard. Running the speeds that you are, especially at a Watkins Glen, it’s extremely challenging to keep that thing on the racetrack, to not make mistakes, to not miss a shift, to not over-abuse your brakes, all those things equate to a strong run or a DNF. It literally could be one or the other.”
In his career, Bowyer has a road course win at Sonoma, short track wins at Martinsville and Richmond, a win on the 1.5 mile track at Charlotte, as well as a superspeedway win at Talladega. While he’s looking for a win this season, he said his track record shows that it can come at any time, though he knows there are places he can improve.
“As a driver you’ve got to be good everywhere,” he said. “You can’t just be good. I’m a short track guy, everybody knows that. You can look at the stats and pretty well tell that if you’re going to put a bet on the 14 ball you’re going to probably put more money on a short track than you would a mile-and-a-half. That being said, you’ve got to be good on the mile-and-a-halfs. We won at Charlotte on a mile-and-a-half and won at Sonoma, and won on short tracks. You’ve got to be able to do it all. Obviously if i’m going to have room to improve it’s going to be on the mile-and-a-halfs.
“Right now given the circumstances that we’re in, we cannot take a drastic hit in the points or anything like that. We’ve got to take care of business there (Watkins Glen). You’ve got to look to a track where you’ve got a strong average as an opportunity and we’re going to go there and take advantage of it.”
After this week, there are just four more races until the NASCAR playoffs begin: 2-mile Michigan, a short track race at Bristol, 1.3-mile Darlington, and 2.5-mile Indianapolis.
The GoBowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen will begin at 3 p.m. on NBCSN.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.