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.”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”