Bowyer announces plans for 2016, before heading to Stewart-Haas

One of 16 drivers in the Chase, Clint Bowyer will be leaving Michael Waltrip Racing at season's end.

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Two days after revealing his plans for the 2017 season, Clint Bowyer announced Friday at Dover International Speedway he will drive for HScott Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series for the 2016 season.

Bowyer, who learned in August that Michael Waltrip Racing would shut down at the end of 2015, was named the driver of the No. 51 Chevrolet, bringing support from current MWR sponsor 5-hour Energy. Bowyer will carry the 5-hour Energy colors in 24 of 36 points races next season for owner Harry Scott Jr.

The partnership with HScott Motorsports will last just one season, before Bowyer joins Stewart-Haas Racing to take over the No. 14 Chevrolet being vacated by three-time champion Tony Stewart at the end of the 2016 season.

HScott Motorsports has a technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, one of NASCAR’s premier organizations.

“What a whirlwind year, to say the least,” Bowyer said Friday at Dover. “As we’ve gone through this, there’s always been that door that opens the easiest, and Harry Scott was definitely that. Looking forward, the marriage he has with Hendrick and the Stewart-Haas organization, that’s very strong and it’s something I’m looking forward to building on. I just think that’s where we’ll have our success.

“Harry is a young, very aggressive owner that we need in this sport. To have this together and tie my name to HScott Motorsports is something I’m looking forward to.”

Scott said although his organization’s relationship with Bowyer will last just one season, the expectation is to “win races, make the Chase and contend for the championship.”

“Clint’s a 10-year veteran that brings leadership and experience and winning ways to our organization,” Scott said. “Clint’s personality and enthusiasm for racing is going to be something we’re going to welcome to our organization. Although he’ll be with us only for one year, we plan to make the most of it on and off the track.”

One of the sport’s youngest and newest team owners, Scott called Friday’s news “a really important step” for the organization.

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“When I started this team two years ago, I did so with the goal of organically building an organization that would one day contend for championships in the Sprint Cup Series,” he said. “Now with Clint as our driver, sponsorship from 5-hour Energy, our relationship with Chevrolet, with Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and his organization, and Stewart-Haas Racing, I feel that we have all the ingredients necessary to achieve that goal. It’s a very big day for our organization.”

Scott’s goal is to use his time with Bowyer not only to find success in 2016, but also to build a platform for continued success down the road in the Sprint Cup Series.

“I think Clint will help us long term because he’s basically going to be able to help us reset our program and set the bar higher going forward,” Scott said. “With his experience, his leadership and his enthusiasm, I think it will be contagious amongst all the team members. I think going forward he’ll help us form an even stronger relationship with Stewart-Haas, and that will obviously be beneficial to us.”

Bowyer said he certainly did not want to leave HScott Motorsports empty-handed when he moves on to SHR for the 2017 season, echoing much of what his next team owner had to say.

“I don’t want to leave Harry with nothing at the end of this,” he said. “We’re going to build a great program here. When I leave here I want to leave here with him having a winning organization and an established team to where he can put the next driver in and go for broke just like he did for us. That is what I want to do with HScott Motorsports next year.”

HScott Motorsports currently fields Sprint Cup Series cars for Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett, and with the addition of Bowyer, the future of the other two drivers is up in the air. During Friday’s press conference, Scott would not specify whether the organization would remain a two-car team or expand to three cars season.

With Annett bringing support from Pilot/Flying J, it appears if the team remains a two-car organization that Allgaier may be the odd man out.

5-hour Energy representative Rise Megular indicated the company is focused on the partnership with Bowyer and HScott Motorsports in 2016, and did not have anything set for 2017, when Bowyer joins SHR.

“5-hour is very excited about this because we get to keep our brand ambassador, who we have really enjoyed the relationship with over the years,” Megular said. “We were obviously disappointed when the announcement was made at MWR, because we did build a lot of good relationships there. But we’re really excited to be with Harry Scott and Clint at the new race team.”

The team has yet to determine a crew chief and car number for Bowyer’s 2016 Sprint Cup campaign.