CONCORD, N.C. — The time is right for Clint Bowyer to do something else.
That was the feeling conveyed by Bowyer, who last week announced he would be retiring from NASCAR Cup Series competition and joining the FOX NASCAR broadcast team in 2021, during a Zoom teleconference on Tuesday afternoon with members of the media.
Rumors had been swirling for weeks about Bowyer’s future driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14, which he has wheeled since taking over for retiring Tony Stewart at the start of the 2017 season.
He said his decision to step away came into focus when FOX came to him with an offer to become a part of its NASCAR broadcast team alongside four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy.
“I guess the picture just became so much more clear after the weeks went by for me of what to do for myself once the opportunity with FOX came to the table, came to the forefront and was a reality,” Bowyer said. “Again, that picture was just way more clear to make a decision. We made the right decision based on a lot of things, and I say we, obviously it’s my butt getting out of the car and doing something different that I’ve never done before, but I have a wife and kids, a brother that’s been by me through it all.
“Were we working on what’s next as far as being in a race car? Absolutely,” Bowyer continued. “Always working with partners. Always trying to understand, trying to help them make an impact in this sport, not only for the racing side of it, but for their business as well. That included working with Rusty from Rush and DeKalb and all of our partners, Peak, everybody it would have took to keep me in that race car, but, honestly, once that opportunity came to the table it was pretty clear that that’s what I needed to do and it was an opportunity of a lifetime to stay a big part of the sport for a long time.”
Bowyer will leave behind a solid NASCAR legacy that includes a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, 10 NASCAR Cup Series victories and a runner-up Cup Series championship result in 2012.
He acknowledged the decision to step away had a lot to do with his family and the ability to spend more time with his children. Retiring now wasn’t exactly the plan, but the opportunity was too good to pass up according to Bowyer.
“Was I ready? I was getting ready. I was getting close to being ready,” Bowyer said of his retirement. “Was I ready after this pandemic and this COVID year of no fans and a weird way to go out? No, and I don’t think probably Jimmie Johnson was either, but was I looking for that ‘What’s next?’ moment or opportunity? And that answer is absolutely yes.”
In a strange way, the COVID-19 pandemic also played a big role in Bowyer accepting the position with FOX Sports.
“This pandemic led to that opportunity to get in the studio with Jeff and Mike and have a ton of fun doing those iRacing races that really kind of kept us on the map with our sport and kept our sponsors propped up, kept the business moving, kept it going around in circles,” Bowyer said. “That was a ton of fun for me and it opened my eyes up in a big way and it was just something that nobody expected that opened the door for this opportunity we took.”
Bowyer went on to explain that he didn’t want to retire and disappear from the sport. Instead, he wanted to remain involved in a meaningful way. If the opportunity with FOX had not developed, Bowyer said he likely would have found a way to continue racing.
“I love being a part of this sport. I mean, that was so important for me. I didn’t want to just retire,” Bowyer said. “If this opportunity with FOX didn’t come to the table, I was going to be in a car somewhere, somehow. I wasn’t gonna just quit and run off into the sunset because I like this sport and I wanted to find my way and a future within it, and luckily this happened.”
Bowyer’s focus is completing the last four races of the season as competitively as possible. He can’t win the championship, but he can win a race at his home track, Kansas Speedway, which is where the NASCAR Cup Series is racing this weekend.
“Kansas has a lot of great memories. My first memory was 2001 sitting on top of a motorhome with a beer in my hand watching Jeff Gordon win the first race. Now, I’m gonna be lining up next to him in the booth next year. It’s all kind of coming full circle,” Bowyer said. “It really is weird how life works and it’s still working for me.
“It’s been a bear for me. One of my worst tracks,” Bowyer said. “That sucks so bad. Like, there’s nothing worse. Why can’t the ROVAL be Kansas Speedway? You know what I mean, or something like that where I’m good — a short track where I’ve had really good success over the years. Damn it, it’s not over. I’m gonna come there and I’m gonna bust their ass this weekend. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it, but it’s gonna happen. Write it down.”