By Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor
(INDIANAPOLIS)—-Missouri, a state that once gave NASCAR fans Ken Schrader and the three Wallace brothers to root for dropped to only one Missourian earlier this year when Carl Edwards decided to ride a bean combine instead of a race car. That left Joplin native Jamie McMurray as our only home state driver to root for.
The Missourinet moved to ease that crisis last weekend at the hot and humid Brickyard 400 after Emporia, Kansas native Clint Bowyer spent a couple of minutes rhapsodizing about the time he spent before the race at his place at the Lake of the Ozarks.
NASCAR had changed its schedule for the Brickyard, concentrating all of it activities into two days instead of three, which left Bowyer in the strange position of having nothing to do on Friday
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Afterwards, Contributing Editor Bob Priddy discussed the local-boy lack with Bowyer. Unfortunately, the talk was away from the microphones but it went something like this:
Priddy: Since January, Missourians have been reduced to only one home-state driver to root for, and we were wondering, given you have a home at the Lake—Could we adopt you as a quasi-Missourian?
Bowyer (laughing): Of course! You don’t want to root for McMurray anyway!
And so the deal was sealed. We have unofficially referred to Bowyer as a sometime-Missourian in our coverage of NASCAR but we now have made it official.
It’s a bold move, placing a Missouri claim on the only top-level NASCAR driver from Kansas, given the historic rocky relationship between the two states. But Clint Bowyer has done a lot of racing on this side of the border, and likes to hang out at the Lake of the Ozarks when he can.
Actually it is still okay to root for Jamie McMurray. Both drivers are having strong years this year after recent struggles. McMurray is seventh in the overall point standings and Bowyer is 11th, falling out of the top ten after a three-car crash with a dozen laps left in regulation at Indianapolis destroyed his car (right) and left him 30th. Six more races remain before NASCAR picks the sixteen drivers who will race for the series championship in the last ten races of the year. Because NASCAR gives automatic slots to drivers who post recognized victories, McMurray is fourteenth in the playoff standings and Bowyer has dropped to seventeenth.
McMurray has made the playoffs the last two years but has not been able to get past the first round. Bowyer’s last appearance in the playoffs was 2013.
(Photo credits: Jim Coleman, Bob Priddy)