SBD/September 21, 2010/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Clint Bowyer Brings Breath Of Fresh Air To NASCAR With Race Win

Bowyer's Common-Man Appeal Could Help NASCAR If He Continues To Win

NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer's win Sunday in the Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300, the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, was a "breath of fresh air to a NASCAR fan base weary of Jimmie Johnson's four-year reign of dominance," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Bowyer, a "blue-collar racer who rose through the ranks of Midwest short-track racing," so far "has resisted being molded into a polished corporate pitchman." Bowyer's team owner Richard Childress noted Richard Childress Racing VP/Competition Mike Dillon told him after the race, "This is the best thing for NASCAR. We need somebody like Clint Bowyer winning races and running for this championship." Childress added, "He came from the short tracks, the dirt tracks. He's worked and he's earned his way to where he is today. He's very fan friendly. The fans love him. It's what I think NASCAR needs, a new type of hero" (AP, 9/20). ESPN.com's Ed Hinton asked, "Is a hero in cowboy boots what you've been missing in NASCAR all this time? NASCAR hasn't had what you could call a common-man champion in a decade, since Texas-born, North Carolina-raised Bobby Labonte won the old Winston Cup." He added, "You don't get any more Heartland America than Emporia, Kan., where Bowyer is from." Bowyer is "not at all one of the cool kids who've won all the titles since Labonte." He is the "visage of the common man," and his demeanor is a "revival of the aw-shucks variety" (ESPN.com, 9/20).

END OF HIS REIGN? In Orlando, George Diaz notes with Jimmie Johnson having won four consecutive Sprint Cup titles, it is "getting extremely frustrating for the marketing folks at NASCAR to push any story lines beyond 'Hey Jimmie Johnson really is good!'" Johnson finished 25th in the Sylvania 300, an "ominous way to start defense of a title," and the "mood in the garage now reflects hope instead of hopelessness." But Johnson "has made it even harder to root against him because he's such a nice guy, complete with the gorgeous wife, a former Wilhelmina Model who recently gave birth to the couple's first child." He is "picture-perfect in so many ways, a younger, hipper and more successful version of Jeff Gordon" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/21).

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