Bowyer excited to join new team but faces Dover challenge

HScott Motorsports announced Friday that Clint Bowyer, center, and 5-hour Energy will join the team for the 2016 Sprint Cup season. Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Bowyer will drive the SHR’s No.14 Chevrolet in 2017, replacing Tony Stewart. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gene Shaner)

DOVER — Now that his long-term plans are figured out, Clint Bowyer can focus his full attention on what is ahead of him this weekend.

The only way Bowyer can advance to the next round of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup is with a victory in Sunday’s AAA 400.

Despite that pressure, Bowyer was in a joyful mood in the media center on Friday. He was there to announce his move to Harry Scott Racing next
season before he takes over for the retiring Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017.

The announcement put an end to what was a stressful summer for Bowyer, who learned he would be out of a ride for next season when his current team, Michael Waltrip Racing, declared it would cease operations at the end of 2015.

Bowyer was still able to make it into the Chase with Michael Waltrip Racing, though he is facing elimination on Sunday.

“All this while we were trying to make the Chase and be competitive and compete for a championship,” Bowyer said. “It’s just crazy all the things you have to juggle in this sport, but that’s part of it. We’re all big boys, That’s the business of NASCAR.”

Bowyer is in last place of the 16 drivers in the Chase thanks to a 25-point penalty issued by NASCAR for issues with the trackbar.

But Bowyer isn’t the only driver facing desperate times at Dover.

Kevin Harvick, the defending champion, also can only advance with a victory. Harvick crashed in the first race of this round in Chicago and ran out of fuel while leading at New Hampshire a week ago.

While Bowyer hasn’t won a Cup race at Dover, he does have two XFINITY Series wins at the Monster Mile for his career.

“We do have a lot on our table,” Bowyer said. “We’ve got to win. Believe it or not, last year’s champion has to win as well. There’s a lot of guys who have a lot to lose. But this is a fun track for me.”

Bowyer (36) hasn’t won a Cup race since Oct. 13 2012 at Charlotte — a streak that spans 105 race.

He was still in high-demand when he became available. Stewart-Haas announced his signing for 2017 on Wednesday and Harry Scott Jr., the owner of Harry Scott Racing, said he was excited to have Bowyer even if it was just for one season.

“I think Clint will help us long-term because he is basically going to be able to help us kind of reset our program and set that bar higher going forward,” Scott Jr. said. “With his experience, his leadership and his enthusiasm I think it will be contagious amongst all the team members.”

It was also announced 5-Hour Energy, Bowyer’s primary sponsor at Michael Waltrip Racing, would be staying with him for 24 races next year. The car number and Scott’s other lineup of drivers have yet to be determined. Justin Alligaer and Michael Annett are both driving for Scott this season in the Cup Series.

Another plus for Bowyer is Harry Scott Racing has a partnership with Rick Hendrick, who also provides engines to Stewart-Haas Racing.

“I’ll have the best of the best when you talk about equipment,” Bowyer said. “We’ve got Hendrick engines, we’ve got ties to Stewart-Haas Racing and those are the guys that are winning the races.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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