Clint Bowyer talks new MWR contract and upcoming baby

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Between the announcements that he’s going to become a father and that he’s earned a new extension with Michael Waltrip Racing, one could argue that Clint Bowyer’s having the Best Week Ever.

And should he win Saturday night’s 5-Hour Energy 400 in front of his home-state fans at Kansas Speedway – and in his 300th career Sprint Cup start?

Well, there would be no need to argue at all.

“Every time you see one of these 300 starts or 400 starts, whatever it is with us, it really doesn’t register until you get back to thinking about how it all began and what it really means,” he said today in a NASCAR teleconference. “[I’m] very fortunate to be a part of this sport for 300 races.

“Now just announcing that we’re going to be a part of it for another extended amount of time, it’s very gratifying and there is a great deal of pride that goes into that.”

In addition to his own extension with MWR, his crew chief, Brian Pattie, and primary sponsor 5-Hour Energy also received extensions as well. Today, Bowyer talked about the positives of keeping everybody together on the same team.

“The key to success in this sport is people and being able to keep those people together, so I’m really happy about keeping Pattie and the whole group intact,” he said.

“To get all that behind you – I’m telling you, going through these contracts and stuff like that, it’s just hard on everybody…I bet I had six or seven people stop me in the shop and ask, ‘Hey, are you going to re-sign?’ ‘Are you going to re-sign?’ ‘What’s going on?’ Because they’re wanting to know about their future too and trying to figure out what that holds.”

Of course, today’s teleconference also moved into an extended period of baby chatter as well.

Bowyer said he and new wife Lorra were expecting their child to arrive at the end of September – which just happens to be when the early races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup take place.

“That’s always something,” he said. “I’ve watched all my peers go through this, and to be honest with you, it always seems to go smooth sailing. But never anything seems to go smooth sailing and according to plan for me, so who knows.

“All hell will break loose and we’ll just have to figure it out when we get there.”

Additionally, Bowyer noted that the baby’s arrival creates another conflict off the track.

“It couldn’t have been timed any worse,” he said jokingly. “It was like, you do realize that is right in the middle of hunting season?

“So maybe some of these big white-tailed deer we have out here in Kansas will be safe this year.”

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two Ligier JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and British youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”