Clint Bowyer arrived at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday morning full of energy. When he speaks, one wouldn’t realize that he slept in his bus in Savannah, GA in a Walmart
Bowyer pulled into the immaculate facility looking for storylines as Nascar on Fox’s lead analyst alongside play-by-play commentator Mike Joy. As Bowyer steps into the broadcast booth for the third season — Nascar’s 75th — the former racecar driver is putting life into perspective.
“This is the track with all of the exposure and all eyes are on the participants,” Bowyer said on Wednesday. “I love my new job and I love being in the booth with Mike. Our guest, Tony Stewart, will be dialed in as another hungry racer who everybody knows.
“I love being able to sell our sport to not only the aged fan – the grandpa in the family – but the son and now the grandson. The tradition of Daytona goes that far and the roots are there, and that’s the fan base I believe I talk to.”
Bowyer will be keeping an eye out for various storylines at Daytona, he said. With Stewart — his former car owner — standing next to him, the two will explain to fans just how difficult it is to win the Daytona 500 as a duo who came close but failed to win the race.
Among the top stories entering the weekend is the return of seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who now co-owns Legacy Auto Club. Johnson will have to qualify his way into the Great American Race during Thursday evening’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona at 7 p.m. ET.
Bowyer’s longest tenured teammate Kevin Harvick, who raced alongside Bowyer at both Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, announced that 2023 will be his final year in the Nascar Cup Series. The two developed a close bond over the course of Bowyer’s driving career, with Harvick mentoring him since he was a Cup rookie at RCR.
“You better bet your bottom dollar that he’s going to be hungry,” Bowyer said of Harvick. “He pushes you to be better. In my early days at RCR, he pushed me to learn and succeed. He literally put me in his cars and I won a lot at KHI. He’s been a large part of my career.
“Even in the second chapter of my career, when I made it to SHR, we were teammates yet again and he was the go-to guy.”
Meanwhile, Bowyer himself will be returning to the cockpit in 2023. He will run three events in the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) Series, which is co-owned by Stewart, George Pyne and Sandy Montag.
“When I first retired [at the end of the 2020 Nascar season], I was burnt out,” Bowyer said. “I’ve been racing since I was 5 years old. I was over it. I was ready to do something different and I was ready for a new challenge, and I found that in the booth. By the end of last year, I got the feeling of ‘I want to race something again.’ SRX is a competitive series, and it’s fun with no pressure.”
A selling point for Bowyer is SRX’s schedule, which visits tracks that Nascar does not race at. The Thursday night racing series will allow Bowyer to race on dirt once again, and he’s thrilled to do so.
“I’m nervous about it,” Bowyer said. “I think any racecar driver or any competitor, if they’re not nervous about something, they’re not going to be successful. If it doesn’t mean that much to you, you’re not going to put much into it.”
The last time Bowyer drove a stock car at speed was during the Next Gen test at Bowman-Gray Stadium in late 2021. It’s been a while, but he is ready for the challenge.
And as Bowyer focuses on his day job at Fox Sports, he understands there is immense pressure to do Nascar justice. With millions of fans watching closely and paying attention to what he says during Sunday’s Daytona 500, he’s nervous for that, too.
The Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. ET on Fox.