TALLADEGA — Let’s see. In no particular order, and frequently unprovoked, Clint Bowyer offered observations on:
A writer’s shiny and stylish shoes. The philosophy of Halloween candy allotment to one’s offspring, and the necessity to poach from their collection to protect against sugar rushes that turn little dumplings into Tasmanian Devils.
He also discussed the art of shot-gunning beer, in which Bowyer may have well earned a Ph.D. Going to Kansas City Chiefs’ games. His father’s towing business, where one encounters “people (when) they’re not necessarily in the best of moods or the best of situations. They’ve either wadded their car up or the damn thing has let them down, or they’ve had a flat tire, run it out of gas, something.”
Somewhere, too, there was some discussion about racing this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, and Sunday’s 1000bulbs.com 500.
Bowyer, 40, is the perpetual kid. He’s the first to admit he “hasn’t grown into an adult.” His attention span flits like a honeybee. His funniest-kid-in-class persona is genuine, unlike other athletes trying to fit some image.
He’s also still contending for the NASCAR title despite, as Fox TV’s Bob Pockrass reminded him, “being on the bubble for about 10 weeks.”
Maybe being a little bit goofy helps manage the pressure that seems to suffocate others.
“Everybody has strong suits and I know that,” Bowyer said. “I know that that’s one good thing that I have is you can keep it serious and keep it down to business and stay focused.
“But you’ve got to make sure that you keep it light-hearted and make sure that the people around you are having fun and not freaking out because nobody can make sound decisions, whether it’s in the car or on the box or in the pit stall changing those tires as fast as those guys have to do it. Nobody can work under that pressure if they’re mentally not in a good place and on the positive side of that.”
Bowyer is 10th in points, with only the top eight to advance after next week’s race at Kansas. The good news for him, he’s in easy reach of eighth, just four points behind William Byron.
“It’s all on the line here this weekend,” Bowyer said. “We’ve seen it time and time again. When you’re under this set of circumstances in the Playoffs, whether it was the old format, the Chase format or this three-races-and-you’re-out deal, this is a pivotal race. Anytime you’re gonna put a restrictor plate race, it’s a 50-50 deal. I tell everybody all the time we’ve got about a 50 percent chance of winning or flipping 17 times. I mean, it’s just one or the other, but at least I’ll know when I wake up Monday morning.”
Bowyer has won twice at Talladega, making him one of only four multiple winners in the field. Don’t discount a third, especially with the recent dominance of Fords here.
“It’s a mindset. You’re either gonna come in and it’s gonna bother you or it’s not,” Bowyer said. “I do believe on these tracks like this you’ve got to keep putting yourself in position. If you put yourself in position and you get wiped out, it’s the nature of the beast. I do believe that it’s no different.
“Brett, my spotter, always says if you watch him play blackjack — the tide’s coming in or the tide’s coming out. And the last few times it’s been going out. I think it’s time to come back in. That’s what I texted him this week. ‘The tide’s coming back in this week, you watch.’ And I believe that.”
Veteran sports columnist Mark McCarter is a special contributor to The Anniston Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.