KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas native Clint Bowyer is a busy man this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
On Friday night he jumped into a one-off ride in the NASCAR truck series race with GMS Racing. Tonight he will run in his regular HScott Motorsports ride in the Gobowling 400 Sprint Cup race. On Sunday he will give ride-alongs to fans who bought a car from his dealership.
In other words, Bowyer is too busy to ruminate on how rocky this season has been.
In a bridge year between Michael Waltrip Racing and taking over Tony Stewart's ride next year, Bowyer has twice blown up at his team on the radio, labored to get his No. 15 car anywhere near contention, and even brought his own considerable ability into question.
"I think everybody knows me, whether I'm frustrated or happy or whatever … the wick is pretty short. It burns out in about five minutes," Bowyer said Thursday. "The next thing out of my mouth is, 'All right, what are we going to do to fix it?' "
Bowyer is accustomed to being in the best equipment, whether it was the past few years with Waltrip, whose team folded after last season, or his early years with Richard Childress Racing. And Bowyer knew there would be growing pains when he joined Harry Scott's smaller operation for this season.
But he admits he wasn't prepared for the enormity of the challenge.
This season Bowyer, 36, has two top-10 finishes and no top-fives in 10 races. He's 27th in points, a big drop for a driver who finished second in points as recently as 2012.
"When you're down, most of the time there's a reason you're down, especially when you're as far down as we are down," Bowyer said. "(But) we've got some good things coming that I'm excited about."
Qualifying: Martin Truex starts on the pole in tonight's Sprint Cup race at Kansas after turning a lap of 190.921 mph in the final round of qualifying on the 11/2-mile track. Matt Kenseth qualified second at 190.564 mph. Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski. Tampa's Aric Almirola (188.390 mph) lines up 19th.
Schedule tweaks: NASCAR has decided that unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway won't be an elimination race in next year's title race, instead taking the pivotal event to Kansas Speedway. The tracks swapped dates in the most significant change to the 2017 schedule. The past two years, Talladega was the third race in the second round of the Chase for the Championship. Talladega becomes the second race in the Chase's second stage on Oct. 15. Kansas moves to Oct. 22 (complete schedule, below).
All-Star Alteration: NASCAR announced a new format for the All-Star race at Charlotte on May 21. It will feature two 50-lap segments, then a 13-lap shootout in which a portion of the field will be on fresh tires. A random draw will decide whether the first nine, 10 or 11 cars will have to do a mandatory four-tire stop before the final segment.