Clint Bowyer had critical words over the radio for his Stewart-Haas Racing team’s pit crew last weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Wednesday, the organization confirmed it has taken measures to address those issues.
Bowyer touched on SHR’s alterations to its over-the-wall personnel for the remainder of 2018 in a Thursday afternoon appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Those moves came after Bowyer’s otherwise quiet 12th-place finish at Kentucky and ahead of Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Bowyer said that between testing the Charlotte road course and a promotional appearance for Watkins Glen International this week, he hasn’t been at the race shop to fully digest the changes, but that they have his attention. He also noted that all teams were still in an adjustment period in the first year under NASCAR rules changes that reduced the allowable amount of over-the-wall crew from six to five.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Bowyer told SiriusXM. “I think if you look at Stewart-Haas’ overall performance at any given race track, if we ever did have a weak link, I mean, it’s been documented that it’s in that area. We have time to fix that. We have time to correct it whether it’s coaching or different processes.
“I mean, this is still a relatively new process for everybody in the garage area that we’re doing — one less guy and everything else. The guys are still learning. No different than anything else in life, you’re only as good as the people around you, and sometimes you just don’t get lined up with the right team or whatever the case may be.”
The maneuvers affect all four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing. Two of SHR’s four drivers are already multiple-race winners in the regular season with Kevin Harvick (five wins) and Bowyer (two) leading the way. The other two — Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch — are well within the provisional playoff field on the basis of points, but are still seeking their first win of the season.
“I’m excited to see how the changes change my program, and not only mine, but the 10, the 41 and the 4,” Bowyer said. “I think we’ve all had some minor changes, nothing major. I don’t think we have a major problem. We just gotta kind of nip it in the butt here with seven races to go before the pay window opens in the playoffs.”
As the team aims to build chemistry in the second half of the season, Bowyer describes the seven regular-season races that remain as “good opportunities.” Though he’s won twice already this season, he’s still short in the victory column to the so-called Big Three of Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who have combined to win 14 of 19 races so far this year.
Bowyer said his second-half aspirations include adding a fourth voice to the chorus of regular visitors to Victory Lane. Addressing pit-road difficulties, he says, provides a starting point for achieving that goal.
“We made some mistakes and just had a bad race. Those three aren’t doing that,” Bowyer said of Kentucky, where Truex rolled to his fourth win of the year. “We’ve got seven races to clean that up and within those seven races, we need to win at least one to become part of and make the conversation the Big Four and not just the three. I think we’re capable of that. That’s the biggest thing is capability in any race team and I think we have that. We’ve just got to get it all put together and we’ve got seven races to do so.”