Fast times: Bowyer a breath of fresh, breezy air at Sonoma
Clint Bowyer has yet to win a Sprint Cup race this season, but he doesn't seem too worried about it heading into the Toyota/Save Mart 350. He knows what a win on the road course would mean.
Clint Boywer (center) poses with the Great Clips Fast Friday trophy -- as well as the Great Clips girls and the Sonoma Raceway girls -- after he drove his No. 15 Toyota to the fastest practice time in Happy Hour at Sonoma.
Bowyer, the Kansas native, newly-minted husband and father-to-be, has not scored a victory so far this season and therefore is not yet locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Most guys in his position would be kind of uptight at this point in the season, starting to worry about winning.
Friday morning at Sonoma Raceway, where he was victorious two years ago, Bowyer waltzed into the media center with a ratty pair of camo shorts, a sponsor polo shirt, hat and an attitude -- an attitude of supreme relaxation and total absence of tension.
And as soon as Bowyer opened his mouth, it was clear he was into the mellow vibe of Northern California.
It's just a fun weekend. I think that's the key to success. ... You've just got to take this almost as a vacation.
"It's just a fun weekend. I think that's the key to success we've had with my group and the 5-Hour Energy Toyota. You've just got to take this almost as a vacation," Bowyer said. "The crew guys get to go out. We don't have our buses. We're staying with everybody amongst the people, having fun with everybody and really embracing what Sonoma is all about. Oh, by the way it's always an awesome race on Sunday as one of the best products we showcase for our fans."
But don't let the laid-back attitude fool you.
Bowyer, unexpectedly perhaps, has become a ferocious road racer. In his last seven races at Sonoma, Bowyer has one victory, in 2012, and five top-five finishes. At this 1.99-mile road course, there have been nine consecutive different race winners. If that streak gets broken in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350, Bowyer could well be the one to do it.
"Where we're at right now, we're in a position that if you go out here and win, it locks us in to the Chase," said Bowyer, who was the series runner-up in 2012. "The only thing that I can't afford to do here is get wiped out, crash myself, run off the track, dive-bomb somebody and make a mistake where it really takes you out of contention for a good finish here because I think we're plenty capable of what we've showed to get a good finish. That's where the focus is."
Bowyer certainly looked speedy on Friday. In the day's first practice, he was second to Kurt Busch and in Happy Hour he topped the speed charts.