Clint Bowyer’s main focus for 2017 is pretty simple: be relevant.
The last few years have been rough on Bowyer, as he hasn’t visited Victory Lane since October 2012
"Relevancy is everything and I lost that," said Bowyer in an interview with MRN. "I didn’t like it and it’s up to me to become relevant again, have you watch me and talk about me.”
In 2016, Bowyer had the worst season of his career. He failed to finish in the top five in any race for the first time since he started racing full-time in 2006. But he could at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. Bowyer played the waiting game because he knew that he’d be replacing Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017.
“The biggest challenge was waiting a year to get in it," said Bowyer. "That day has arrived in a big way.”
He knows he has a great opportunity ahead of him and he believes it is a better opportunity than he has ever had.
"It’s the best opportunity I've ever had. I don’t think you could have a better fit. If I had any chance at any other seat in the garage area, I don’t think I would fit in any other culture any better than at Stewart-Haas and, more importantly, in this '14' car."
With the opportunity to win, Bowyer realizes NASCAR is a business and for him, regaining relevancy is essential for him in all aspects of business.
"Once you race at this level, it becomes a business and it trickles down to everything in your life - from my dirt program to everything else. My dealership and every business that's happened because of racing feeds off of your success on the track. I had a bad year and want to become relevant again."
One reporter asked Bowyer if he was worried he was still any good.
“I think the last time I was in a good car, I was good,” said Bowyer. “I’m a smarter driver than I was three years ago, you know what I mean? I think I’m plenty capable of winning races if we can get a team underneath of me and these good cars.”
He believes now is the best time to start winning and if he’s capable, Stewart-Haas Racing will give him the opportunity.
“I love what I see at Stewart-Haas,” said Bowyer. “I really do believe if I’m going to win a race, this is exactly where I’m going to win a race in this kind of situation. And wouldn’t it be awesome if it was the Daytona 500, so I could just quit having to answer that damn question?”
On Tuesday, Bowyer was asked what it would mean to him to win again.
“Will it be special? You’re damn right it will,” said Bowyer. “The last time I won a race … you headed to the next one wanting to win it. Success makes you hungry for more success. It’s been a while. But I need to re-establish myself as a consistent frontrunner. We need to perfect that and then win races.”
On Tuesday at the NASCAR Media Tour, Bowyer started off his Q&A session, unsurprisingly, with a joke.
“Hi everyone, remember me?” asked Bower. “It’s nice to be happy. It’s fun to be happy, believe it or not.”
In 2017, Bowyer will look to re-introduce himself to the NASCAR world in a new ride and eventually, make his way back to Victory Lane.