A newborn and a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup? Clint Bowyer could find himself juggling both.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver, who announced Monday that he and his wife Lorra are expecting the couple's first child, said Tuesday that the baby boy is due in late September -- during the opening weeks of the NASCAR playoff. That means the eight-time race winner could be on baby watch for the first stages of the postseason, should he qualify.
"I've watched all my peers go through this, and to be honest with you, it always seems to go smooth sailing," Bowyer said on a conference call with reporters. "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. We're all racers. We're also family people. It seems like that's one thing we all have in common as racers is we kind of got into this world with family, and we need those family members. When they need us, that's first and foremost always."
Bowyer has reason to feel better about his Chase chances after Sunday's season-best third-place finish at Talladega, which moved him up to 18th in points and continued a strong spring run. The next day, MWR announced that Bowyer had signed a multi-year extension with the organization.
"I wanted to stay right where I was at," Bowyer said. "I have a great team, I have a great sponsor, I have a great manufacturer. I've got a great organization that takes care of my sponsors that builds a great platform for all of them to be able to showcase a product and get their bang for the buck. That is so important."
Bowyer was inked to an extension along with crew chief Brian Pattie and primary sponsor 5-hour Energy, keeping together a unit that has won three times at MWR and finished second in final points two seasons ago. The deal comes on the eve of Bowyer's 300th career start, which he'll make Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, his home track.
"Really excited about a multi?year deal with them. It means a lot that we were able to put it back together at MWR. I've had a tremendous amount of success there right off the bat. The key to success in this sport is people and being able to keep those people together. So really happy about keeping Pattie and the whole group intact," said Bowyer.
"To get all that behind you, I'm telling you, going through these contracts and stuff like that, it's just hard on everybody. No different last time I went to the shop before we did it. 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. So it weighs in on everybody all across the board. It's not just me."
Soon enough, Bowyer will have something else weighing on his mind. Although Bowyer will become part of a baby boom that's swept the garage area in recent years, he said it wasn't the children of his peers that made him consider fatherhood -- it was his young nieces and nephews. Bowyer's brother Casey oversees some of the driver's business interests, and it was his children that spurred Bowyer's interest in having one of his own.
"Everybody knows me -- I was always wild and on the gas all the time, and up for a good time. If a party happened, even better. Still that guy. It's just, as soon as I had those nieces and nephews -- you know, my nephew Lincoln, just watching him grow up and teaching him how to ride bicycles and ride motorcycles and basically do what my father did to us," Bowyer said.
"With Casey, he runs everything in my companies that I have going on, my brother Casey runs all of that. So we're very close. They live right around the corner from me. Just been involved with and been around all the upbringing, and just immediately made us want one of our own."
Even though having a newborn during the offseason will cut into Bowyer's hunting time. "Maybe some of these big white?tailed deer we have out here in Kansas will be safe this year," he said.
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