BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — If Clint Bowyer already has his future figured out, he wasn’t ready to reveal it Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The only thing that is certain is that Bowyer won’t follow Rob Kauffman to Chip Ganassi Racing. Kauffman is moving his investment from Michael Waltrip Racing to Ganassi, and MWR will cease operations at the end of the season.
Bowyer this week secured his release from Kauffman with two years remaining on his contract.
“What I am going to have in the future and what that future holds for me will be another announcement as soon as possible,” Bowyer said.
When asked if he wants a one-year contract for next season so he can pursue a ride for 2017 with a powerhouse team or if he wants a multi-year deal, Bowyer gave a thumbs-up.
“Yes,” he said with a grin. “Keep talking. Absolutely. Those are all systems go.”
In spurning a move to Ganassi with sponsor 5-Hour Energy, Bowyer likely tipped his hand that he’s looking for a placeholder seat next season. None of the high-profile seats are open for 2016 at this time, but something could come open for 2017.
The only thing Bowyer did directly address is that he’s parting ways with Kauffman, who has financially kept MWR afloat since midway through the team’s 2007 debut season.
“It’s a business decision to move forward on his end,” Bowyer said. “That’s where our futures for he and I just don’t align anymore.”
No reason was given by either Bowyer or Kauffman for the decision not to go to Ganassi, which fields cars for Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. But once that was made, Bowyer needed a release from his contract to begin looking for something new.
He didn’t seem concerned about finding a job.
“Hey, I’m confident in this sport,” Bowyer said. “I love this sport, the sport has been good to me and my family. I’ve had a lot of great partners and a lot of great organizations I’ve worked for, and I see no reason why somebody who works hard and wants it like I do can’t have a job for as long as they want.”
Bowyer also didn’t seem to think locking down a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship will be an issue. A crash last week at Michigan dropped him to 16th in the standings, and Saturday night at Bristol begins the final three-race push to qualify for a spot in the Chase.
Bowyer is winless, and unless that changes, he’ll need to move higher up in the standings to ensure a berth in the 16-driver field.
He doesn’t think the lack of a future at MWR will hurt his chances. Although Kauffman initially said only that MWR won’t run full-time entries next year, he clarified Friday that the organization will “cease operations.”
“We’re a team. We’re racers. These guys are all racers at heart,” Bowyer said. “My guys in particular, these road guys, these guys who are on the road with me every week, all of them said, ‘Listen, we’ve got a job to do. You get your damn head straight and let’s go out and win this championship and end this on a bang.’ That’s the fire and desire and passion that racers have and you can’t take that from any of us.”
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