When word began to leak that Michael Waltrip Racing was in danger of closing its doors at the end of the 2015 season, Clint Bowyer suddenly became the hottest free agent in the garage. Bowyer has not only won races in the sport, he has also participated in the Chase and every owner will tell you that is the kind of driver that they are looking for to turn their fortunes around.
Bowyer’s name began to be associated with several organizations in the sport, but all of the major rides that brought with them a chance to win races were filled for the upcoming 2016 season. Around the same time, rumors also began to circulate that Tony Stewart planned on retiring at the end of the 2016 season.
Stewart has won a championship in his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet but had struggled the last couple of seasons and failed to make it into the Chase. His struggles do not reflect the success of the organization, as his teammate Kevin Harvick won the championship in 2014 and was joined in the Chase this season by teammate Kurt Busch.
Stewart’s ride could be the ride that could change the fortunes of any driver in the sport, but unfortunately for Bowyer the seat wouldn’t become vacant until the 2017 season. It’s rare for a driver to announce his plans two seasons ahead, but it has happened before in the sport.
Kasey Kahne was the last driver to surprise everyone in the sport when he announced his plans two seasons ahead. Kahne was driving for Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010 when he announced he was leaving and that he would be moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. That left his 2011 plans in limbo but, because of his enormous talent, Red Bull Racing was willing to offer him a one-year contract.
Bowyer will now follow the same path of Kahne as the rumors of Stewart’s retirement were true and he was eventually named to replace him beginning in the 2017 season. Like Kahne, he needed a ride for one season and HScott Motorsports was more than willing to acquire his services for the upcoming season.
HScott Motorsports is a small organization that fielded two teams in the series last season with drivers Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett. Owner Harry Scott Jr. has made it known in the past that he wants to grow his organization to the point that it can win races in the sport and that is why he was willing to give Bowyer a one-year contract.
Also making Bowyer attractive to Scott was that he would be able to bring sponsorship to whatever team that signed him. Bowyer’s long-time sponsor, 5 Hour Energy, has built much of its advertising around its relationship with the driver and it was quick to announce it would be following him to HScott Motorsports this season and that it would be the primary sponsor for 24 races.
Scott will not be expanding his organization to three teams as Bowyer will be taking over Allgaier’s No. 51 team with the number being changed to Bowyer’s No. 15 that he used with Waltrip. Even though he will not be expanding to three teams, Scott announced last week that he would be moving his entire operation from Spartanburg, S.C., to Mooresville, N.C., making it closer to its technical support partners Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing.
Bowyer’s new sponsorship and a new location has everyone excited at HScott that this could become a breakout year for the entire organization. This needs to be that type of year because at season’s end, Bowyer and 5 Hour Energy will be gone and Scott will be looking for another driver and sponsor.