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Clint Bowyer excited to rejoin a NASCAR powerhouse team

After a trying season with HScott Motorsports, Bowyer is excited to move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Bowyer always knew his stopgap year with HScott Motorsports would be filled with ups and downs, that's expected when you join a small team like the one owned by Harry Scott.

Before the season began, Bowyer figured there would be some struggles, especially early as he and the No. 15 team acclimated to one another. But the hope was as the season moved along, the level of competitiveness would increase and maybe he could make a push to earn a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth.

That hasn't happened. Instead, Bowyer's lone year with HScott has been underwhelming. In this his 11th season, he's on pace to set career lows in every major statistical category and ranks 27th in points entering Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway. An indignation for a driver who three times has finished fifth or better in the championship and has eight victories to his name.

"I've never struggled like this," Bowyer said Friday. "I take some of that blame, too. It's not one thing.  It is so many different things that go into these race cars. It's just amazing. I used to race down there and win championships and win races and you would pull in there, didn't matter what happened, I knew I was going to win.

"It's a situation to where those roles reverse and you don't have the upper hand on those guys, and it's a hell of a challenge and that is where we are at right now."

The Bowyer-HScott union came about after Bowyer's previous team, Michael Waltrip Racing, folded after last season and he had already announced he would replace the retiring Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017. The series of maneuverings left Bowyer without a ride for this season and with all the top-flight seats filled, his options were limited.

If there is a silver lining, Bowyer says, it's that he's become a better driver trying to mitigate HScott's disadvantages, which had seen one of its drivers record a top-10 finish just once in the previous two years. Bowyer has three top 10s in 30 races this season.

"I've learned a lot," Bowyer said. "This sport is hard. It's so competitive. You take things for granted sometimes. When you are in cars that are running up front it's the easiest thing ever."

Still, Bowyer admits he's wistful about the opportunities when he moves to an organization that's won a pair championships in the past five years (Stewart in 2011, Kevin Harvick in '14).

"Certainly, it's always natural to start thinking about next year," Bowyer said. "You better be this time of year, no matter if you are moving or staying the same. "That is how far in advance you have to look in this sport."

Accentuating Bowyer's point, he's been regularly conversing with Stewart's crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, and just this week received an email regarding 2017 merchandise. He's looking forward to joining future teammates Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick, with Stewart continuing as SHR's co-owner.

"It is exciting," Bowyer said. "You are like, ‘Holy cow, it's becoming reality.' It's fixing to pick up in a big way.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a neat atmosphere. Something that 10 years into this thing one of the best opportunities ever is at your doorstep and fixing to happen. It's pretty cool."