The Buffalo Motorsports Examiner recently had the opportunity to speak with NASCAR veteran Clint Bowyer, who was a judge and coach in this season’s PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge. Learn more about the program and about Bowyer over the next few days.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer remembers a time not too long ago when young short track drivers like himself, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. – all members of the Sprint Cup Series’ 2006 rookie class – used NASCAR’s weekly racing series around the country as a stepping stone to the big leagues. That changed when the nation’s economy went into a downward spiral.
“A few years back when the money in the sport kind of went down with the economy, the first thing that went was the developmental money,” said Bowyer in a recent interview. “Myself, Martin Truex, Denny Hamlin…we were all from the short tracks. We were able to get national recognition from racing in those series, and we really just don’t have that anymore.”
Enter PEAK Antifreeze-Coolant and Motor Oil, who is teaming up with Bowyer’s team, Michael Waltrip Racing for the second PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, a nationwide search that came down to 18 drivers who competed in early June for a shot at a PEAK-sponsored ride in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race.
“It was something that needed to happen, something I’m proud to be a part of,” said Bowyer, who along with Waltrip, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton and Danica Patrick served as coach and mentor for the 18 drivers. “It gives drivers, just like myself back then, the opportunity to make a name for themselves and pave their way to a career in NASCAR.”
After submitting a video, PEAK judges selected the 18 drivers who showcased their talents in Charlotte. “There are six different stages of the Challenge,” according to Bowyer, “from a short track challenge to a big track, to endurance to a dirt track, to car control – there’s even a pressured situation on how to handle the media so it really does go after all the aspects of our jobs and the best one gets to go on and make a name from themselves.”
Bowyer, who has a background in dirt racing, enjoyed the process of helping these young drivers along.
“I was judge and coach on the short track challenge and on car control and on the dirt track – I came from a dirt background and most of these kids…have never seen a dirt track,” said Bowyer. “The short track challenge was neat – I really liked that challenge, probably my favorite, because they got a list no different than we do when we come in for a pit stop – track bar, wedge, air pressure…we purposely kind of messed their cars up a little bit, gave them a list of adjustments to fix that and correct that, you’ve got 10 minutes to go out, make some laps, figure out what the car needs, tell us what the car needs, then go out and see if it made it better.”
“I didn’t give them the answer, but if they were struggling I would definitely help them stay down the right path.”
To see the list of drivers participating in this year’s PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge and their videos, visit peakstockcardream.com. The PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge will air on the Velocity Channel on August 2nd at 9 p.m. ET.
Coming up in this series: Bowyer talks about upcoming races, dirt track racing, NASCAR’s youth movement and impending fatherhood.
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