By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Author
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — If Clint Bowyer might have scripted his sendoff, it most definitely would have been a correct blowout for NASCAR’s greatest partier.
Bowyer would have had followers and mates and celebrated each week all alongside the NASCAR circuit if he’d had his means. He definitely wouldn’t have chosen this yr as his final, this season of no spectators within the stands, no raucous revelers roaming the infield.
Bowyer is certainly one of many caught within the circumstances of the pandemic and pushed to make career-deciding choices. Dangle round for an additional season driving race automobiles, or make a soar to the tv sales space.
He did not need 2020 to be his final season, however the supply to hitch Fox Sports activities made for a simple cut up for Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing.
“I feel you at all times, all people in life, needs to only get by with yet another yr. Yet another yr, yet another lap,” Bowyer stated. “It’s 2020, proper? Is it the right time to do all of this? I don’t suppose 2020 is the right time for something.
“This chance got here up. It was a possibility of a lifetime, a possibility to remain part of this sport for a few years to come back.”
Bowyer might have pushed for a return to the No. 14 Ford subsequent season if sufficient sponsors agreed to again one other yr. However SHR actually wanted Bowyer to free his seat so the staff might give Chase Briscoe a much-earned promotion from the Xfinity Collection.
The supply from Fox Sports activities, the place Bowyer had been moonlighting as a visitor analyst, ended some other situations. Taking the TV deal purchased Bowyer a second profession.
“Have been we engaged on what’s subsequent so far as being in a race automobile? Completely,” Bowyer stated. “As soon as that (Fox) alternative got here to the desk it was fairly clear that that’s what I wanted to do.”
After 15 full seasons at NASCAR’s prime stage, Bowyer will get out of the automobile in 4 weeks. Bowyer will depart the game a winner for Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota, a former Xfinity Collection champion — a child from Kansas who made it to the massive leagues.
He introduced his plans final week with sufficient time to organize for a sendoff Sunday at Kansas Speedway. He grew up in Emporia, simply over an hour away from the speedway, and he was a fan ingesting beer atop an infield motorhome when Jeff Gordon received the primary Cup race at Kansas in 2001.
Bowyer spent two months working with Gordon through the pandemic as an analyst-slash-participant within the iRacing broadcast protection. Subsequent yr they are going to be full-time teammates within the tv sales space.
“I used to be preparing. I used to be getting near being prepared,” Bowyer stated of retirement. “Was I prepared after this pandemic and this COVID yr of no followers and a bizarre technique to exit? No.
“However was I in search of that what’s subsequent second or alternative? That reply is completely sure. This pandemic led to that chance to get within the studio.”
Fox Sports activities used simply Pleasure and Gordon in a two-person sales space this yr following Darrell Waltrip’s retirement. The listing of possible expertise was deep and ranged from retiring crew chief Chad Knaus to present title contender Kevin Harvick, who has proved to be an impressive visitor analyst.
The pandemic gave Bowyer weekly studio time and his massive and loud persona was full-throttle through the digital racing telecasts. He is good-natured and gregarious, a model of Waltrip with the huckster, fan-appreciated type.
Identical to Waltrip did for almost twenty years, Bowyer can now look towards a protracted future in NASCAR’s highlight.
“I like being part of this sport. I imply, that was so necessary for me. I didn’t need to simply retire,” Bowyer stated. “If this chance with Fox didn’t come to the desk, I used to be going to be in a automobile someplace in some way. I wasn’t going to only give up and run off into the sundown as a result of I like this sport and I wished to seek out my means and a future inside it.”
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