E.A. Sports Today

Bowyer preps for Dega

Two-time Talladega fall winner visits NFL team, Music Row during appearance to promote 1000Bulbs.com 500 weekend

Clint Bowyer (14) has won the fall race twice at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

For East Alabama Sports Today

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Clint Bowyer comes to Talladega Superspeedway in a few weeks, you can bet he will act like a “Titan” to take home the “Cash” and the victory that could automatically propel him into the next round of NASCAR’s Playoffs.

Here on Thursday he got a sneak preview – well, sort of.

Bowyer, one of 16 drivers currently in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, made a pit stop in Music City, U.S.A., to promote NASCAR’s Most Competitive track while stopping at the Johnny Cash Museum and the Tennessee Titans practice facility for some racing action with players.

The two-time Talladega winner (Fall 2010 and 2011) currently sits 11th in the championship race, seven points above the cutline after one playoff event. The 1000Bulbs.com 500 Oct. 14 will be the second race in the Round of 12, the fifth race of the final 10 playoff races.

Clint Bowyer has won fall races at Talladega in 2010 and 2011. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

“Today was really cool, and when you think about it, it all sorta relates to us in the playoffs and Talladega as well,” said Bowyer. “Johnny Cash is one of my all-time heroes – the man in black, tough and rugged who went through some tough times before ultimately having incredible success in the country music industry. My career has seen some peaks and many valleys, but right now, I feel like we have the team that can get it done and be at the top of the mountain. I am so proud of what we have accomplished, not just our No. 14 team but SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) as a whole with all four teams making the playoffs.

“When you look at our 14 team, we are like a Titan. We have great leadership qualities and have shown great strength, making us a power and threat each and every week. That is what it will take to win again at Talladega, and ultimately a championship. We will have to be at our absolute best to win ‘Dega. I love Talladega. Love the racing on the track, love the social atmosphere it presents for the fans – it is unlike any place we go. On the track, it will be intense as hell, but that is what makes it different. It will be an incredible show for fans to be there and watch.”

Bowyer’s first stop was at the Cash Museum. The iconic Cash was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, and did it his way. Bowyer’s admiration for Cash is deep. In fact, his three-year-old son is named “Cash.”

“One of the neatest things I have ever done,” said Bowyer of his tour. “I thought I knew everything about Johnny Cash but I found out today there are so many other incredible things about him that I wasn’t aware of. He was an incredible songwriter, and some of the memorabilia was something to see. What an experience.”

During his stop with the Titans, Bowyer, from Emporia, Kan., met with first-year Head Coach Mike Vrabel, who has vast knowledge to win under pressure, especially in the playoffs. The former linebacker won three Super Bowls as a player for the New England Patriots and finished the last two years of his playing career (2009-2010) for Bowyer’s beloved Kansas City Chiefs.

Vrabel gave Bowyer a Titans jersey with his name on the back while Bowyer presented Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson a Stewart-Haas Racing pit crew shirt.

“I met a lot of really nice people with the Titans who took time to talk with me and learn about our sport,” Bowyer said. “Coach Vrabel is a guy who knows first-hand what takes to win a championship. There are many parallels with our two sports. He knows every person on a team has to do their job and execute. The physical part of it is a given, but the mental part of it is just as important. You have to be mentally up for the challenge, and that is something that is of the utmost importance as we vie for a championship and a win at Talladega.

“More than any other place we go, you have to be focused at Talladega because its 500 miles of mind games. It’s all about making good, quick, decisions by all of the team – the guys in the pits, my spotter and me in the race car. If we can do that, we will be in a great position to get another Talladega win, and hopefully advance in the NASCAR Playoffs.”

Bowyer also had some fun with the players while at the Titans complex, catching up with former Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans and kicker Ryan Succop, who hails from Hickory, N.C., home to many NASCAR drivers over the years. Center Ben Jones, who played high school ball in Centreville before attending Georgia, then took on Bowyer in a remote control truck race on the field.

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