Monday, March 12, 2012

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Bowyer leads the MWR team to top-20 finishes

Clint Bowyer heads into the garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Credit: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images for NASCAR
Clint Bowyer led the Michael Waltrip Racing team to all top-20s at Las Vegas. Mark Martin struggled throughout the race and a late race tap from Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not help the situation. Martin Truex Jr. also had strong runs at times before dropping back to 17th.

Just an observation, and quite random, I think the Martins have a magnetic attraction to one another on track. Last week they finished 7th (Truex) and 9th (Martin) and this week again they were together in 17th and 18th respectively. Just something I noticed and I am sure now you are going to pay attention to it also.

Courtesy of
Clint Bowyer - No. 15 5-hour ENERGY
Started: 5th
Finished: 6th
Points: 14th

Clint Bowyer and the 5-hour ENERGY team battled to get a top-10 finish in today's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A gutsy call from crew chief Brian Pattie to stay out on the last caution (going for broke in Vegas, how appropriate) was the right move. That 5-hour energy just made it today!

Bringing home a 6th-place finish after running in the top 15 throughout the race was a needed boost for the team. Bowyer moves up three positions in the points standings and is now 14th.

“We had a good run today in the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota," Bowyer said in the post race press release. "We tried to stretch there at the end and made it. That was a good call by Brian Pattie. Then we had to race pretty hard. We definitely earned it today. That was a solid top-10 finish which we really needed. We keep posting finishes like that and we’ll be good. Can’t wait to get to Bristol.”

Courtesy of

Mark Martin - No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine
Started: 13th
Finished: 18th
Points: 10th

A day of struggles for Mark Martin was made worse with contact from former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr with just about 25 laps remaining.

I am not going to assign any blame, because I do not believe in that. All is fair in racing, in my opinion. Mark Martin was racing for position with Earnhardt when the contact occurred. Earnhardt got into the back of the No. 55, sending Martin into the wall and causing some right-side damage. Martin continued on and was able to finish 18th with a bruised Aaron's Dream Machine.

After the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. voiced his frustration with Martin and cited the unwritten racer's etiquette in allowing a faster car to pass you.

“But to me, personally, there’s an unwritten etiquette that when a guy is running the top, even if you’re clearing him, passing him, if you barely clear him off the corner – I’m coming 10 miles an hour faster off the top of the race track – you stay low."

Before you get all ruffled up, Earnhardt continued to say that wrecking Martin was unintentional.

“I didn’t really mean to put him in the wall. From the cosmetic standpoint, it didn’t look like it really hurt his car. It probably knocked some of the right front suspension off of it. I’m sorry about that.”

Martin left the track without comments but took to Twitter without mention of the accident. Saying, "We were a little off today but was getting better and had a top 10 in sight and then all heck started breaking loose. Great effort though."

Martin drops four positions in the points to tenth. Mark will not be in the No. 55 next week, Brian Vickers will be making his debut for MWR at Bristol.

Courtesy of
Martin Truex Jr. - No. 56 NAPA Filters 
Started: 10th
Finished: 17th
Points: 8th

Handling was an issue for the No.56 throughout the race. Lacking front grip, the sun played havoc with the NAPA team.

"We made small wedge and air pressure changes, but we just couldn't get it better. It's frustrating because I know we are better than this," Truex said in the post-race press release.

After the race, Truex also took to Twitter saying, "Tough finish to the race for us. We were strong till about 2/3 thru the race, then lost track position. Well be ready for bristol. (sic)"

Truex lost ground in the points, dropping two positions to 8th.

New and Notes:

Antron Brown joins Truex for a ride around Charlotte in a
stock car. Credit: HHP/Harold Hinson 
Earlier this week Martin Truex Jr. swapped rides with NHRA superstar Antron Brown. Truex and Brown both took to the wheels of two-seater versions of their own cars for the ride swap, a promotion for Charlotte Motor Speedway's upcoming NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 13-15 at Charlotte. 

“That is incredible. Incredible,” Brown said after his ride with Truex. “When that whole ride started, I was like, ‘alright, we’re going to go out on the track and we’re going to break it in, easy.’ He was mat-to-the-floor right to the first turn… I’m like, ‘we ain’t slowing down for this corner.’ It was one of the rides of all rides. It was incredible… Side-by-side, trading paint, I tell you what, I’ve always had respect, but I have a whole new meaning for NASCAR.”

A crazy ride for Truex Jr. as he rides along with Brown.
Credit: HHP/Harold Hinson
“The first time, I wasn’t really ready for it. It all happened kind of fast, so I didn’t get to look around or see anything,” Truex said of his ride with Brown. “The second time I made sure I kept my head around and it was a lot cooler. You really feel that pressure and you’re really accelerating, but at the same time it almost feels like it takes a long time to get down there. It’s almost like your mind puts it in slow motion because you’re scared… It’s crazy.”

For your viewing pleasure: 
In honor of Truex's ride along with Antron Brown, I chose a classic NAPA Know How ad featuring Ron Capps from 2008. Do you remember these ads? I do! 

Amanda Ebersole brings the readers of Skirts and Scuffs interviews and insight into the people who make NASCAR the sport we all love. Besides interviews, Amanda also writes her column In the Rearview Mirror and co-hosts Skirts and Scuffs Happy Hour Mondays at 9pm ET Catch up on all Amanda's writing by clicking here. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter or e-mail. 


  1. Amanda....I still see you are drinking that Wall-Banger-Kool-Aid.

    Why don't you write about a "real" Frankie Stoddard's #32 Ford Fusion Team, which gets a lot of success with little money and a hand-full of team members. They get great results with little sponsorship. Just think what they could do, with a lot of $$$$$ (I mean YEN) from Robert, who is the "sugar-daddy" for that "foreign/import" team, over at that converted bowling alley/cinema complex on Chartwell Drive in Cornelius!

    Pick another team, instead of Waltrip, please? We see way, too much of his mug, every weekend on Fox & Speed. Give us a break!

    Concerning NAPA, I think NAPA wastes a lot of money on POS-Racing/Motormouth Motorsports and Ron Capps. Have you actually been watching NHRA, this season to see who is actually winning in Nitro Funny Car? Seems like Team Force has won the first, three, Wally's and they are running Ford Mustang's and are sure not sponsored by NAPA!

  2. ddsbstrb,

    I appreciate you stopping by and reading my articles on Skirts and Scuffs the past few weeks.

    As you may have noticed, we are doing team coverage of many of the big teams this season and with that I chose to cover the MWR team. I simply write what I observe each week and if you look closely you will see that the organization is improving from their seasons past.

    I understand you may not like, or are exhausted with coverage of Mr. Waltrip but with him being the owner, he will be mentioned in the column.

    Again, thanks for reading Skirts and Scuffs.