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Clint Bowyer: Making a career of surprises


Clint Bowyer (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   Clint Bowyer says he likes the edge he gets from all the naysayers.
   It just makes him and his new team all the more fired up, to prove their detractors wrong.
   When car owner Richard Childress decided to split up Bowyer and Gil Martin's team at the end of 2008, after they made the playoffs two straight years, it caught some by surprise….perhaps even Bowyer.
   But Bowyer comes into Sunday's 500 sitting second in the Sprint Cup standings.
   "Over the last few years I've been the one that they said couldn't make the chase…and it was again this year.
   "That's fuel for the fire, absolutely.
    "That makes you go out and work harder, and go that extra mile, to make sure you prove them wrong."
    Did Bowyer take the shakeup as an affront?
    "Certainly I had a lot of faith in Gil Martin, and the success we had was good. But I had a lot of faith in myself too," Bowyer says.
    "I knew, given the right team, the right people I could still get the job done.
   "Richard has surrounded me with good people….like (crew chief) Shane Wilson. The more I get to work with Shane, the more I like him. He's very methodical, he's very organized.
   "When your boss says 'This is what you're going to do,' it's pretty much what you're going to do.
    "It definitely was nerve wrecking -- You just don't ever know…
    "You always know what you've got in the bank with what you had.
    "It's hard to let that go.
    "But maybe it was time for a change. And it's really opened my eyes: a completely new team, new optimism, new everything.
    "We haven't even hit our stride yet, and we've already had three good finishes out of four."
   "Change isn't always bad. And I think it's proven to be pretty good for me.
   "I had a fun time and great success with Gil…but it wasn't good enough -- We weren't winning championships, and we had three years together."
   And what can Bowyer do here? "This is a fun race track. Everybody loves coming here.
   "But anything can happen at this place. You have to know that.
   "You definitely know going into Bristol you're going to take a butt-kicking. It's just one of those tracks…but that's what makes it fun.
   "It does wear you out, and takes it out of you.
   "Bottom line is you have to come in here with a positive attitude and think that you're going to get out of here on top."
   However with NASCAR's testing ban Bowyer concedes it's been hard getting the communication and chemistry with his new crew as fast as he'd like
   "Typically pre-season we were able to work five, six, seven tests together and really get that communication down…and take advantage of those tests getting your team ready for Daytona. We weren't able to do that his year," Bowyer says.
   "With a totally new team, we had to get acclimated, learn each other.
    "That's the kind of communication that is crucial, to run with competition, as good as it is today.
    "Those are things we'll have to use practice for…and practice isn't always the best."

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