Hometown: Emporia, Kansas
When he was five years old, Bowyer began racing in motocross. And beginning at an age when many of his peers probably didn’t know how to ride a bike, Bowyer was on his way to winning more than 200 races and numerous championships over the next eight years.
In 1996, Bowyer began racing street stocks at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kansas, eventually winning a Modified championship there in 2000. In 2001, he racked up 18 wins and 32 top-five finishes on his way to capturing another Modified title. He moved to NASCAR’s Weekly Racing Series in 2002, winning 12 times and finishing second in the national standings. He was also the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Midwest Champion in 2002.
Bowyer’s break came in 2003, when he ran a full season in NASCAR’s Elite Midwest Division and a handful of ARCA races, where he came to the attention of car owner Richard Childress after leading 47 laps and finishing second in his first ARCA race at Nashville Superspeedway.
In November 2003, when he was told by a coworker at the body shop where he worked that Richard Childress was on the phone for him, Bowyer almost didn’t take the call; he was certain someone was playing him. Not only was it really Childress, but he signed Bowyer to drive, and the Kansan made his Nationwide debut the next year.
Since making that first start in 2004, Bowyer has been a steady and consistently successful presence in Nationwide – in 2005, his first full season, he won twice and finished second overall. He followed that with another win and a third in 2006 and two more wins and 12th-place finish while running part-time in 2007.
And if Bowyer’s (and everyone else’s) season was overshadowed by Kyle Busch’s mind-boggling performance in 2008 – he won just once to Busch’s 10 – he was metronomic in his performance, finishing in the top-10 in all but six races to win the Nationwide Series title.
In his first three seasons in Sprint Cup, Bowyer has quietly but firmly established himself as one of the sport’s most reliable drivers. In 2006, his first full season, he had four top-five finishes, and a heart-stopping charge from his starting spot (37th) to finish sixth at the Daytona 500; perhaps more telling, however, he had just four DNFs and finished 17th in the points. And though he’s won just two races in his career, he hasn’t DNFed since his rookie year and he’s finished third and fifth in the two most recent Chases for the Championship.
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