FORT WORTH, Texas — Denny Hamlin probably wishes he had consulted with Cash Bowyer before being one of the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers to take to the new Texas Motor Speedway on Friday.
And yes, we mean 2-year-old Cash Bowyer – not his 37-year-old father Clint Bowyer, who readily admits that he frequently revels in acting like a 2-year-old
The elder Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, admitted that he did not know what to expect when drivers hit the 1.5-mile track in their race cars for the first time since its recent repaving and reconfiguration of Turns 1 and 2.
“Man, I don’t know what to expect,” Bowyer said shortly before Hamlin went for a spin on just his second practice lap, less than two minutes into Friday’s lone session. “And the good news is I don’t think anybody else does, either, until we can get these hot rods on the track and get a feel for the grip level that the track has.”
Bowyer had a little bit more of an idea maybe than others after taking his son, Cash, onto the track Thursday night. Clint was walking, but Cash was attempting to drive his toy race car.
“I can tell you that I went for a walk last night,” Bowyer said. “Cash had his little car and he slid off the bank – so I know it’s pretty slick. That’s what we’re all going to fight, finding a good, happy balance on this thing.”
Cash’s dad admitted that is going to take a little time.
“The lower-downforce package certainly is going to be alive,” Bowyer said. “You’ll be fighting that on this conditions with the hard tire on this fresh repave. These things either make a lot of grip and they make you happy or they don’t – and the second they don’t, it’s like being on ice and you’re up on top of the racetrack, just begging for an adjustment.
“Practices are going to be a premium. You’re going to have to work hard to try to find a good balance. The tricky part is you’re going to have an ever-changing track, too, as we keep rubbering up this track more and more as we get laps on our tires.”
Clint might have been onto something in getting young Cash on the track first. It made him wonder why the Cup drivers were practicing first on Friday, instead of the younger, less experienced XFINITY drivers who might have been able to give the Cuppers some valuable information while also laying rubber down on the virgin asphalt.
“I was hoping they would pack the track for us,” a laughing Bowyer joked. “I don’t know. (TMS president) Eddie (Gossage) needs to know. That is short-track 101, you have the sport classes pack the track for you. What the hell?”
And after watching Hamlin go for his spin, Bowyer said it reminded him of Cash’s adventure a night earlier — which he documented with a video on Twitter.
“He looked like Denny out there,” Bowyer added, grinning again.