Clint Bowyer, MWR are working on a contract extension.
Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images
In a perfect world, Michael Waltrip Racing would have Clint Bowyer’s contract extension signed prior to the Feb. 13 start of Speedweeks.
Bowyer, 34, is one of the most affable racers on the Sprint Cup tour. He’s also one of the top free agents this season. With eight career Cup wins and five Chase appearances in the past seven seasons, the Emporia, Kan., native would bolster any organization’s roster.
“It’s obviously something we’re talking about,” MWR team owner Rob Kauffman said. “Clint’s been a great asset to the team. We love having him. It’s his third season, and I think everyone wants to keep the band together.”
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Certainly that’s the case for Bowyer. Despite the fallout the organization experienced last September in the aftermath of “Spingate” at Richmond, Bowyer said he’s committed to getting a deal completed so the negotiations do not become a distraction once the 2014 season begins.
“We working on it now, trying to get it renewed,” he said. “It’s time to perform and make sure we maintain that level of success so we can re-up these sponsors and get a contract signed. We should have something soon.”
Kauffman has spent the past five months reorganizing MWR after the loss of NAPA. The group has scaled down to two full-time teams and a research-and-development squad that’s expected to compete in about eight races.
When asked whether an extension for Bowyer was based on re-signing 5-hour Energy, the No. 15 team’s sponsor, Kauffman said, “It’s not predicated on 5-hour, it’s predicated on having adequate funding, but we can deal with that. I think the 5-hour folks are quite happy. It’s been a successful run for them. They have to make a decision based on what makes sense for their business, but we’re cautiously optimistic that everything will fit together.”
Though Bowyer came out of the gate strong in his first season at MWR with a career-high second-place finish in points, 2013 was a disappointment for the former Nationwide Series champion. Entering his third season with the company and Brian Pattie as his crew chief, Bowyer is confident the No. 15 team can get back on track.
“I have something to prove,” Bowyer said. “The year before I finished second in points, our first year together, and was really strong. We didn’t necessarily shine in the Chase, and I need to prove to myself – not only to myself but to (the media) and everyone else – that we can do that all over again. We didn’t win a race last year, and that sucked. It’s a lot more fun winning three races and celebrating. I’d much rather do that.”