In his relatively young motorsports career, Clint Bowyer has won many races.
He's probably lost count. They've come in Late Model races, modifieds, NASCAR's Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.
Bowyer has tasted success in every form of racing he's entered since he started on motorcycles in his native Kansas as a 5-year-old.
Winning races, however, is only half the story for Bowyer.
“I can remember winning my first championship on dirt. That's what we race for,” he said. “We race to win races and a goal. If you were just out here to win races, why come every week?
“We're after championships at the end of the year and that's what we're paid to do and that's the goal.”
Since joining NASCAR's top divisions in 2004, Bowyer, 29, has yet to win a championship, but he put himself in position this season for two title runs.
A native of Emporia, Kansas, Bowyer qualified for the second consecutive season for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but his best chance at a championship this season appears to be in the Nationwide Series, where he leads the standings. He has a 196-point advantage over Carl Edwards entering Friday night's Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Although Bowyer has one win in Nationwide this season – in a rain-shortened race at Bristol, Tenn. – he and his No.2 Richard Childress Racing team have been remarkably consistent.
In 30 races, Bowyer has finished in the top 10 in 25, more than any other driver. In fact, the next-closest driver has 19 top-10s.
Many drivers have more victories than Bowyer (including Edwards with four) and two (Edwards and Kyle Busch) have more top-fives (Bowyer has 11).
“Consistency wins championships. It always has and always will,” Bowyer said. “Yeah, I would like to win more races. I've let two of them slip away.
“I haven't forgotten about them and that's certainly something you have to live with. That's probably a worse feeling than running fifth or even having a devastating day and running 30th or something. When you give one away, it's just something that burns inside of you.
“Like I said, I'm not racing but for one reason and that's for one trophy. That one trophy that I don't have is the championship trophy in one of these elite divisions, and that's what I'm racing in the Nationwide Series for.”
This weekend's race at Charlotte should offer Bowyer another opportunity for a strong finish, which would allow him to maintain his large points lead and stay on target for a NASCAR championship.
In eight career Nationwide races at Charlotte, Bowyer has one top-five and five top-10 finishes, including a sixth in May.
The fall race is run at night, an added bonus for Bowyer, who grew up racing on Saturday nights on short tracks around the Midwest.
“I love the night races. That's what most of us grew up doing. It adds an extra element of atmosphere,” he said. “Electricity is in the air and the energy is high. Everybody is looking to have a good time.
“When the lights come on, everyone puts their gloves on and gets ready to go to battle.”
For Bowyer, that means not only an opportunity to win races.
“You set out the first race at Daytona, you do it to win championships. So far, so good on the Nationwide side,” he said. “On the Cup side, it's still a lot of racing left, a lot of obstacles to try to dodge and get through.”