After barely sneaking into NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs, Clint Bowyer isn’t about to waste his opportunity to race for a championship.
When asked if that includes bumping or wrecking another driver to win a playoff race â which would automatically advance him to the next round â Bowyer didn’t hesitate: “Hell yes!”
“Surely they’ll accept an apology later. I mean, they’re not going to accept it the next day but maybe next year,” Bowyer told For The Win by phone Thursday while promoting Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The No. 14 Ford driver is one of 16 playoff drivers competing in the postseason, which begins Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With no wins in 2019 and six top-5 finishes, he’s 15th in the standings, and it wasn’t until the end of last weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that his playoff spot was secured.
Obviously too close for comfort, Bowyer said he wasn’t elated to make the playoffs because that’s what he’s paid to do. After what he called a “terrible summer,” he said he was frustrated it all came down to the regular-season finale. But he’s not nervous going forward.
“Last week we were pooping our pants, man!” Bowyer told reporters during media day.
“Now, it is real. We have accomplished it, and we have a championship to go after. It is as simple as that. Why on earth would you be nervous about this? We have raced for the last month and a half nervous. We are used to it.”
The 10-race playoffs are divided into three rounds of three races ahead of the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, and four drivers are eliminated at the end of each round.
After Las Vegas this weekend, the first round continues at Richmond Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway before the first cutoff going into the Round of 12. In 2018, Bowyer made it through to the Round of 8 before the final cutoff race.
“We unload here at Vegas, and it’s just like pulling up to the craps table, put the dice on the table and let it rip,” Bowyer told FTW.
“What kind of risks and chances to you take? The answer is all of them. That’s the truth. Any opportunity, any risk, any chance that’s available, you take it. If you don’t, everybody else will, and that’s the difference between playoffs and not. And sometimes you hit sometimes you don’t.”
Bowyer loves the three-race format for each round and the upcoming tracks much more than the ones NASCAR ended the regular season at. And he’s got momentum with three top-10 finishes in three weeks. He was seventh at Bristol Motor Speedway, sixth at Darlington Raceway and fifth at Indy last weekend in a race his teammate, Kevin Harvick, won.
And he’s pumped to not have to worry about points so much or race looking in the rearview mirror to keep track of other playoff bubble drivers anymore. He just wants to win.
“It’s a new breath of fresh air,” Bowyer said. “All your history is gone and nothing but the windshield in front of you.”