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The 12 Questions interview series continues this week with Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing. The interview was conducted Sunday morning prior to the Martinsville race. Here is the archive of other 12 Questions from this season.
1. How much of your success is based on natural ability and how much has come from working at it?
I would say with me, I don’t know why, but natural ability seems to be the case. This has always come relatively easy for me. The hardest part of our game anymore isn’t the fact you can drive better than the next guy; everybody at this sport, at this level, can drive and is capable of winning these races. It’s how well you work with your team, how well you communicate to your guys to get the most out of your race car.
2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours? (Note: I know the following answer makes no sense, but it’s Bowyer, so I think he just got distracted.)
Man, it’s just trying to instill that same attitude, the same thoughts and culture. The fit factor has always been really good for everybody. I just like it. I like my teammates, I like the crew chiefs, I love the owners. The sponsors, the partners they have. There’s no weak link anywhere you look in Stewart-Haas. The manufacturer in Ford, Doug Yates, the Roush Yates horsepower. Every aspect of the program is spot on and exactly the way you would want it.
3. What is the hardest part of your job away from the racetrack?
Right now when my wife (Lorra) goes to Charleston and left me with that two-and-a-half year old (son Cash). I couldn’t handle the two-month old (daughter Presley). Grandma — my mom — had to bail me out on Presley. (Lorra, sitting nearby with the kids, reminds everyone Presley is actually four months old, not two). Cash and I held the fort down and had a good time.
He’s still living and doesn’t look like he has any broken bones or anything.
No, believe it or not, he’s still breathing. No broken bones. We did pretty good on the potty training. Not bad at all. I was pretty impressed. (Pauses) Not with him — with me.
4. A fan spots you eating dinner in a nice restaurant. Should they come over for an autograph or no?
Of course, fans should always approach people. But the restaurant is a little different. Everybody is wired different. I don’t care. I don’t mind it. It is kind of awkward.
Just not the bathroom. God almighty. We went to Outback, took the family to Outback. We all go in there. Cash has to go to the bathroom, which, with a two-year-old, it’s a little bit of a deal. It was after (nephew) Lincoln’s baseball game. Lincoln had to go to the bathroom (too), so my brother Casey had him. I had Cash. (A random) dude finally gets done at the urinal, turns around and wants to shake your hand — and realized (the awkwardness)! He was like, “Eh, uh — can I shake your hand?” (Laughs) I’m like, “Well, damn. I guess.” So just not the bathroom. It’s the only place — just don’t go there.
5. What’s a story in NASCAR that doesn’t get enough coverage?
(Spotter Brett Griffin, also hanging out in the motorhome, says, “Spotters.”)
My spotter, Brett, just said “spotters.” Can’t live without ‘em; can’t live with ‘em.
Man, I think the media, I think TV, everybody does a great job covering this sport. I mean, honestly. There are so many meetings, so much thought that goes into every aspect of covering this sport. I think they do a good job. I don’t know that you could fix anything or look at one thing and say, “Wish they would show that.” ‘Cause they do.
6. Who is the last driver you texted?
(Kasey) Kahne, actually. Kahne has been posting pictures of him working out on social media and I’m like, “Unless you’re a girl, don’t do that.”
Good God! It’s so embarrassing.
And then my go-to, fun text of the week is always (Jamie) McMurray. He’s so much fun to pick on, because he cares so much about what his appearance looks like and what people think of him that I love to pick on McMurray. And his new videos on social media are ridiculous.
I’ve seen those.
He looked half-dead after California, too. He was sitting in the plane doing his little debrief video. I’m like, “My man looks so out of it and so worn out.” I’m like, “Go take a nap and let (McMurray’s son) Carter take over.” Because my man Carter is hilarious and I think he would probably do a better job than his dad anyway.
7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?
Yes. I think this is the entertainment business. If you’re on television, you’re in the entertainment business — whether you want to or not or whether you think you are or not.
8. What is your middle finger policy on the racetrack?
Well, when you look over and you’ve got an in-car camera, you can’t do many of those. Going back to your question of what could be covered more in NASCAR, unfortunately you can’t even flip a guy off anymore without it being caught on camera or on TV.
Sometimes, I’ll flip a guy off — like a McMurray — we would just flip each other off just because it was him. Not that I was mad or anything else, just because I wanted to flip him off. It made me feel better.
9. Some drivers keep a payback list in their minds. Do you also have a list for drivers who have done you a favor on the track?
Yeah, I think that goes hand-in-hand. You don’t want to call it friendship, because you’re not friends on that racetrack. If it’s for a win, I’ll take advantage of anybody on that racetrack and I’ll be the first person Monday morning to say, “Hey man, I ain’t gonna apologize because I know that ain’t worth anything, but I hope you understand.” And I hope they do understand. If it’s for a win, I’m hungry.
10. Who is the most famous person you’ve had dinner with?
(Looks to Lorra for help. She mentions Steven Tyler, John Fogerty, Blake Shelton. Brother Casey mentions Mike Helton.)
Yeah, I’ve been fortunate to have dinner with a lot of famous people. The people I love — truly, honestly, my brother just said Mike Helton. I don’t think there’s anybody that I respect more in my life than Mike. The reason is, I think he’s the go-to guy for our sport. He’s the spokesperson of our sport. He’s the face of our sport. And he doesn’t take that for granted and always has time for whatever aspect of the sport that needs attention. Whether it’s the drivers or whatever else, he’s always there to listen. The thing about Mike is he’s a good dude, a good person to go to dinner with. He’s a lot of fun to cut up and be normal as well.
11. What’s something about yourself you’d like to improve?
Damn. Winning, right now. Gotta win, you know? This is a performance-driven sport and you’ve got to go out there and have the performance on the racetrack.
But those stars are lining up. I’m starting to have fun again and starting to get that confidence back, and that’s not only with myself but my race team as well. Buga (Mike Bugarewicz) is a young crew chief and he’s hungry and you’ve got to have that confidence instilled in you week-in and week-out. I see that in him right alongside of me.
12. Last week’s interview was with AJ Allmendinger and he wanted to know: If you could be any animal, what kind of animal would you be and why?
How in the hell does that — that’s what came to his mind?
Man, I don’t know. I would think a lion would be pretty badass. That’s pretty top of the food chain. The badassery in the lion is pretty spot-on. I dig a lion.
Do you have a question for the next interview?
The question to ask the next driver is why do you or don’t you post workout videos on social media?
What if the next interview is with Kahne?
Exactly. I want to know why.