The Joy Of Clint Bowyer: NASCAR's Sonoma Race Winner Always Seems To Have Fun

June 24, 2012; Sonoma, CA, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer (15) celebrates after winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday's winning driver has a contagious, fun-loving attitude that made it enjoyable to see him race to Victory Lane at Sonoma.

Clint Bowyer is like that one buddy of yours who always seems to have more fun than everyone else.

You envy him, but you also like being around him. After all, someone whose personality is that wide-open has the ability to lift people's spirits and cut through the cynicism that creeps into everyday life.

And if there's one driver in NASCAR who seems like he'd be fun to party with, it has to be Bowyer.

Here's the thing, though: That's just the normal Bowyer. When he wins, as he did Sunday at Sonoma? Watch out!

"Why are we out here in Wine Country drinking water?" Bowyer said during his post-race press conference, eyeing the water bottles in front of him with mock disgust. "I'm ready to celebrate!"

By the time Bowyer even reached the media center, he had already 1) Run his car out of gas while celebrating, requiring him to walk to the winner's circle and 2) Broken the bottom off his glass wine goblet trophy (it was later glued back together).

When a local reporter asked Bowyer how he planned to enjoy the rest of the evening, the answer was obvious to the Michael Waltrip Racing driver.

"I'm fixing to drink wine, ma'am," he said. "Come down here and join me!"

In Bowyer's early days in NASCAR, he came across in interviews as a say-nothing type who rarely looked like he had much personality. A few years ago, though, something changed. Bowyer started showing his fun-loving side to the public, and the party was on from there.

Though he's still underrated and underhyped compared to other winning NASCAR drivers, the dude is unquestionably talented. Even at Sonoma, where no one mentioned him as a favorite, he had quietly finished in the top five on three previous occasions.

Here was a dirt-track racer from Kansas – where road courses aren't exactly the norm – who spent Sunday beating some of the world's best road racers at their own game.

"I just looked up and (a picture of) Jeff Gordon is sitting there on the wall, won this race many times, he's a champion of this sport and I just beat him," Bowyer said. "I'm telling you, I passed him! I beat him! You have no idea, a young racer from Kansas, you don't forget stuff like that."

New sponsor 5-Hour Energy is perfect for Bowyer, because he's already energetic and lively. Heck, he's a walking bottle of the stuff. It's the rest of us who need 5-Hour Energy to reach his level.

Naturally, Bowyer was full of laughs after winning on Sunday. He referred to Tony Stewart as "the old grizzly," called Sonoma "the best race in NASCAR history" and jokingly chided a reporter who walked into the press conference late.

"You can't show up late and raise your hand for one more question!" Bowyer said.

It's not that Bowyer dislikes the media or was in a hurry to get home. Rather, the driver just has a short attention span.

"Can we go now?" he asked with the pleading manner of a third-grader as everyone laughed. "Don't you guys know I have ADD?"

But Bowyer said he was enjoying the aftermath of his win so much, he had no plans to leave the track anytime soon. He didn't care if he left Sonoma or not on Sunday night, he said, and joked he "might even give ride-alongs" after the press conference.

Even when Bowyer was leading, it didn't seem like he'd end up in Victory Lane. After all, Kurt Busch was coming with a vengeance and had just won on the Sonoma road course last season.

So when a late caution bunched up the field, Bowyer figured he was screwed just like everyone else did.

"I'm thinking, 'I barely held him off the last three or four laps. How the hell am I going to do it the next two or three laps?'" he said. "That's exactly what I was thinking – and that's probably exactly what you were thinking."

With a win and a position solidly inside the top 10 in points, Bowyer seems like a good bet to make the Chase and spend champion's week in Las Vegas with the other playoff drivers. And that's good for him, because he'd "much rather be partying" in Vegas than deer hunting – which is how he spent last year's champion's week.

"That's a pretty good week that you miss when you don't make the Chase," he said.

Bowyer is the kind of driver who can calm concerns about NASCAR drivers not having enough personality. The problem is he can only do so if he wins or contends regularly – otherwise, fans won't have the opportunity to learn about his fun-loving style.

At one point in the winner's press conference, a reporter prefaced his question to Bowyer by saying, "I would like you to consider this as seriously as possible."

Answered Bowyer: "It's hard for me to be, sir."

And that's a damn good thing, isn't it?

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