Bowyer sees light at the end of the scandal
September 28, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Driver of No. 15 finds way to be 'one with himself' as focus turns from Richmond to Chase
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DOVER, Del. -- Clearly Clint Bowyer was less comfortable stretching his body into the yoga position "Downward-Facing Dog" early Saturday morning than he is driving 200 mph in a tightly-packed group of race cars inches from a concrete wall.
But Bowyer was game and good-natured as he joined 100 fans for a yoga session presented by Bowyer's sponsor 5-hour Energy as part of a Living Beyond Breast Cancer event in the Dover International Speedway infield shortly after sunrise.
Local yoga instructor Jessica Coyne called for Bowyer and the others to "Take a deep breath. Exhale. And release the tension."
"Calm any mental chatter," Coyne instructed the group. "Extend your energy to the sky."
Holding his hands together in a prayer-like pose above his head and balancing on one leg, Bowyer exclaimed with a laugh, "I see the light."
And perhaps he has.
After a couple of uncomfortable weeks at the center of a NASCAR controversy and the recipient of a 50-point penalty to start the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Bowyer has weathered criticism from fans and hard questions from the racing media.
For the first time in his career, the popular and fun-loving driver has even been booed during pre-race driver introductions.
So if Saturday provided a little good karma and Kumbaya for Clint, then who could begrudge?
"Yoga is probably not the sport for me," Bowyer said. "I clearly had a different opinion on what yoga was. I don't know how you get 'one' with yourself. I couldn't even do the victory breathing. So that's a bad sign.
"I appreciate (5-hour Energy) coming up with neat, fun things like this to interact with our fans and share a laugh. And trust me, me doing yoga is a laugh."
On a more serious note, Bowyer did get some good news this week.
He found out Friday sponsor 5-hour Energy would remain with his Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 Toyota. The company said it was re-evaluating its relationship with the team following the Sept. 7 race at Richmond, where NASCAR determined the team "manipulated" the race outcome.
"I'm happy that 5-hour Energy has always supported me from Day 1," Bowyer said. "They're the reason I found a new home at MWR and left RCR in the first place. It's been a great ride with a lot of success for both of us."
The news came just as Bowyer returned from a hunting trip to Wyoming with Ryan Newman, one of the drivers directly affected by the MWR team's Richmond antics.
The trip -- part of Realtree Outdoors "Driven to Hunt" series that will air on ESPN -- had been arranged months ago.
Still, Newman joked about the situation, saying, "He (Bowyer) only went to the hospital once. It wasn't that big of a wound, and I didn't hit him quite where I wanted to.
"But nevertheless, we had a lot of fun and I want to thank Bill Jordan and everybody at Realtree for giving us the opportunity to just get away and relax."
Now, however, is go time.
After spending 12 weeks of the regular season ranked no lower than third in the standings, Bowyer is currently in 10th place -- 48 points behind leader Matt Kenseth -- entering Sunday's AAA 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN).
He is still winless on the season and has finishes of ninth (Chicago) and 17th (New Hampshire) in the first two Chase races.
"We certainly haven't had the last couple weeks we're accustomed to having, especially Chase time," Bowyer said. "I've definitely been more concerned about that than anything.
"We're racers and when you go to the track and don't perform, it's frustrating. We kind of beat ourselves, made some bad decisions and probably cost us 15 points in the last two races I can pinpoint. We should have zigged instead of zagged. Everybody has fast race cars; you have to make better decisions than the other guy.
"We've just got to get back to doing what we're doing."