At Talladega, Clint Bowyer agreed to answer our 12 questions in an unusual spot for interviews with writers – on pit road, prior to qualifying. It was a first for us, and Bowyer later went on to achieve a first for him – a win at Talladega. Our weekly series of interviews continues this week with Bowyer, the Richard Childress Racing driver in his fifth full Cup season.
What's the best race you've ever driven?
CB: I think the first New Hampshire win (in the 2007 Chase opener) was probably it. We pretty much dominated the whole race.
Who's the most talented driver in NASCAR?
CB: Oh, man. You know, heck...probably Kyle Busch. SBN: Any reason in particular? Well, he's pretty good (laughs).
What's the best time for a fan to approach you for an autograph?
CB: You know, I don't know. Just try to be respectful and understand that sometimes we've got a job to do, but if we're walking somewhere and don't have anything going on and it's not five minutes before practice, it's a great time.
That's what's good about this sport – there's always time to do that for a fan. I think that's what separates this sport from others. You know, you gotta put yourself in a driver's shoes though; if it's two minutes before game time, it's probably not a good time to get an autograph.
What's the worst track on the NASCAR circuit?
CB: Aw, man. That's a tough one. You know, for me, I don't really care for Pocono. I run well there, I just don't care for it because there's nothing to do around there. I get there and I get bored. I'm a people person, I like getting out and going to a bar and maybe having a beer – or at least a good meal or something. There's just not a lot around that track. It's pretty secluded.
What's something people may not know about you based on what they see on TV?
CB: You know, I think there's a reason people have an opinion on a driver based on the interviews they see on TV – because that's the way they really are! If it's a new driver and he's only been given three or four or five interviews, I don't think you can make a good assessment on his character and how he is. But man, these guys have all been doing interviews for years. Fans have been following them for years. You can only hide for so long, and your true self is going to come out. So I think what you see is what you get.
If you were in charge of NASCAR, what's one thing you would change?
CB: Right now, I'd shorten the schedule up. Instead of giving some other tracks more races, if it was me – and I don't have to worry about paying the bills at these racetracks – selfishly as a driver, I would not go to places again for a second time. If there's a new market, I'd try to go there and not necessarily add to anything. Just try to explore different markets.
What driver do you admire the most outside of NASCAR?
CB: That's easy: Steve Kinser. I mean, he's the man. He's the toughest racer out there, he's been racing for years and he's still every bit as good today as he was in his younger years.
I watched him barrel-roll down the front straightaway with two or three other drivers. He probably had 15 years on 'em, but he was the first one out of it. He was the first one to get his helmet off and be like, 'Damn! That hurt!' (laughs) I just think he's a kick-ass race-car driver.
Who do you think will win the Sprint Cup in 2015?
CB: That's a long time. Let's hope I'm still in it! (laughs)
I think it's never going to be a huge surprise. Whoever will win the championship will be someone who was strong all year long that year – it's not going to be some surprise at the end of the year.
If a new driver came to you and asked one driver he should learn from and one he shouldn't, who would those two people be?
CB: Man! I'd say pick a champion to learn from, and not learn from a backmarker (laughs).
How long would you like your driving career to last?
CB: As long as I can. As long as I can stay competitive. Certainly, I haven't won as many races as I'd like to and I'm not where I'd like to be (in total wins), but that's what keeps me driving right now. It keeps me hungry. I want to get better. I think I can still get better. I think our team's getting better each and every week, and that's what keeps me going.
What's the first thing you do when you walk through the door after a long race weekend?
CB: Just...whatever the hell I want to! (laughs)
Would you rather be known as a great driver or a great person?
CB: Aw, great person. Yeah.