Top 10: The best of Clint Bowyer
May 08, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
It's a big week for everyone's favorite Kansan. Monday, Clint Bowyer announced that he and his wife Lorra were expecting their first child, a boy. Later that same day, Michael Waltrip Racing announced a multi-year contract extension for the eight-time winner on NASCAR's premier circuit. And Saturday night Bowyer makes his 300th career Sprint Cup Series start, appropriately at his home track, Kansas Speedway.
Given all that, it would be difficult to not look back at some of the more amusing instances involving a driver whose sense of humor and penchant for distraction have often combined to create amusing off-the-cuff moments. Yes, some people still hold that Richmond situation against him, and perhaps always will. But Bowyer has been able to move beyond that single episode, and once again return to his merry old self -- as his tweet announcing his wife's pregnancy would surely attest.
Whether it's going completely off-tangent in a post-race press conference, or stealing the spotlight during a Champion's Week event, or answering questions on Twitter in his own special way sitting by the fire pit, Bowyer always manages to be the star of the show, even if that wasn't his intention. So as the circuit prepares for another trip to the Sunflower State, here are the top 10 moments that most encapsulate the best of Bowyer.
10. Two Daytonas
This season's running of the Daytona 500 was interrupted by a six-hour rain delay -- unless you were watching at home on television. To fill time, Fox Sports aired a replay of the previous year's event, won by Jimmie Johnson, and many viewers (not to mention a few news outlets) thought the six-time champion had won the race again. Bowyer couldn't resist. "The coolest thing about this weather is, we were able to run two Daytona 500s in one day," he told the Fox TV crew. "Jimmie won the first one, apparently. I'm going to win the next one." Unfortunately, he had engine trouble and finished 42nd.
9. Party animal
Bowyer has been in the thick of the Sprint Cup championship battle a few times. In 2007 he finished third in final points, and in 2012 he placed second in the standings behind Brad Keselowski. After winning the 2012 regular-season finale at Richmond to clinch the sixth seed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, he was asked what a title would mean to him. "To win a championship? It would be pretty big. Helluva lot of fun," he said. "Jimmie seems like he has a blast doing it. I promise you I could throw a better party than him. Might not survive it, but we would have a lot of fun." Perhaps one day, we'll all get to find out.
8. Keg and a driveshaft
Everyone got a glimpse of what a Bowyer victory party -- or at least the aftermath of it -- might look like in October of 2012, when the MWR driver prevailed at Charlotte to record what stands as his most recent victory in the sport's top series. The tweet the next morning said it all: "WTH happened last night? Woke up with a blue jacket, trophy, bottle of Jack, a keg, a dog, new watch, a driveshaft and a headache," he wrote. Indeed, he confirmed a few months later, somebody had placed his car's driveshaft in bed with him. "Just a normal Monday morning for me," he deadpanned.
7. Water and wine
Bowyer has rarely been as giddy over a race victory as he was at Sonoma in June of 2012, when he recorded his first win with MWR. "I just looked up and (a photo of) Jeff Gordon is sitting there on the wall, he won this race many times, he's a champion of this sport and I just beat him. I'm telling you, I passed him. I beat him," he beamed. And he was more than ready to make use of the goblet and the large bottle of red wine that comprise parts of the NASCAR trophy at the Northern California road course. "Why are we out here in wine country drinking water?" Bowyer asked. "I'm ready to celebrate." Soon enough, a half-filled goblet was sitting next to him at the interview table.
6. Finding Kurt Busch
When NASCAR's championship celebration moves to Las Vegas, Bowyer is often as big a star as the series champion. That's usually the case at the uncensored and off-the-cuff "After the Lap" program, where Bowyer is completely in his element. The most recent, in December of last year, was no different. When Kurt Busch dropped an f-bomb telling a story about the aftermath of a run-in with Jimmy Spencer at Indianapolis, Bowyer just had to interrupt. "That just happened," he said. "That just happened. He is back, ladies and gentlemen! We have found Kurt Busch! I don’t know where you’ve been all year, but you are finally back to Kurt Busch!"
5. Midget Elvises
Also at last year's Champion's Week, Bowyer revealed that he and his girlfriend Lorra had just become engaged. Bowyer confessed that the big moment wasn't very romantic, and soon enough he spotted his new fiancé reading a bridal magazine. "I was like, what the hell? This is weird. This is new,” he said. "I hadn't thought about any of that stuff. I would like to have Elvis marry me out here in the Little Chapel (of the West) and get the box set with the T-shirts and the coffee mugs. That’s my idea of a great wedding. About four of your friends, and two of them are midget Elvises." Thankfully for her sake, the couple eventually settled for a ceremony in the Bahamas.
4. Danica death stare
Back to Champion's Week 2013, and more vintage Bowyer -- this time on awards ceremony host Jay Mohr, who spared no one in a needling monologue that had many in the audience squirming. A popular target was Danica Patrick, whom TV cameras caught glaring back at the host. "Jay has had a hell of a night. I don't know who wrote his lines, but I was super impressed. I thought it was hilarious," said Bowyer, who himself was ribbed over the Richmond saga. "Danica's going to kick his ass. It will be a good story, and those of you who have cameras might want to get them out. Because if Danica kicks his ass, it might be newsworthy." Thankfully, everyone involved took it in stride.
3. Free fallin'
Bowyer often jokes about his short attention span, but it was on display in the media center after he won at Charlotte in 2012. Asked about the race, his answer quickly veered to an unrelated topic -- high-wire walker Nik Wallenda, who had performed before the event. "I was pretty impressed with the tightrope today in pre-race. I was pretty excited about that. I thought that was pretty cool," Bowyer said. "Did you see him unclip? And then naturally, they played 'Free Fallin.'' That was real nice. Tom Petty 'Free Fallin'' as a guy is risking his life for our entertainment. What a good song to pick while he's 250 feet in the air. Thank you." No, thank you, Clint.
2. The damndest boat
The 2012 feud between Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, which ignited on the track at Phoenix late that year, took a strange turn when both drivers found themselves on rapper P. Diddy's yacht in St. Bart's on New Year's Eve. "I was on the damndest boat you've ever seen in your life," Bowyer said the following January at Preseason Thunder testing in Daytona. "We don't have big boats in Kansas. I think (Gordon) was on the same boat. There were a lot of other people on there. It was a big time being had. I'm pretty sure he was on there. It was pretty late, let's put it that way."
So, did that chance meeting end the hard feelings between them? "Yeah, we held hands and walked on the boat, discussed the past year and enjoyed ourselves throughout the whole vacation," Bowyer deadpanned. "That was the one person I definitely wanted to vacation with. Yes. I could not wait to get there for that very reason. Is that what you wanted me to say?" Yes. Absolutely.
1. That's a divorce
Last October at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Bowyer was took part in a program that brings Chase drivers to the Charlotte facility to hold a Q&A with fans. The biggest story of that week involved the harsh comments leveled by Kevin Harvick toward Ty Dillon, grandson of his car owner Richard Childress, during a Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville. Harvick was set to leave Richard Childress Racing at the end of the season, and during a media session Bowyer cut right to the heart of the issue.
"That's a divorce," said Bowyer, a former RCR driver himself. "That had nothing to do with Truck racing or go-kart racing or anything else. That's a divorce, man. You ever seen a divorce end happy? That’s like her taking not only the furniture and the silverware, she took the dog, too. That's (ticked) off. That divorce -- he didn't get the animal, I would say. She took the dog. That'll (tick) a guy off. That is what you had there. Not a Truck race, nothing else. That was a divorce. Make no mistake." Thanks to Clint Bowyer, we never will.