MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Rolling into Cali with their "swag" MWR again posts top-15 finishes

Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
Rolling into California after top-five finishes at Bristol, the Michael Waltrip Racing drivers have a pep in their step, maybe a bit of swagga as well.

Mark Martin’s Twitter account was hacked during last weekend’s Bristol race, renamed as Epic Swag, Martin took it with a grain of salt and flipped the page on his hacker. Sporting the Epic Swag name above his driver’s door, Martin along with teammates Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. looked to have the same success as they had at Bristol. 

The look of focus (and maybe some 5-hour ENERGY).
Clint Bowyer: No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry
Started: 11th
Finished: 13th
Points: 8th (-38)

Running in the top 15 through the race, Clint Bowyer battled with a loose racecar.

As the caution flag flew for rain, hoping it was just a brief shower, Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie made the decision to pit from the 14th position for four tires and fuel, but alas, Mother Nature had other plans. The race was red flagged and never restarted. Bowyer would finish the race in 13th, and now sits eighth in the points.

“I thought we had a great 5-hour ENERGY Toyota today,” said Bowyer. “We were fast in practice and qualifying and I thought we would be just as fast in the race. When we went green we were looser than expected and without any cautions we just didn’t have the chance to dial-in our Toyota. A 13th-place finish isn’t what we were aiming for but it isn’t too bad either.”

Sporting his "swag" Mark Martin straps into the
No. 55 during qualifying.
Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Mark "Epic Swag" Martin: No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota Camry
Started: 3rd
Finished: 12th
Points: 17th (-66) and 8th in owner points

After a week off, Mark Martin was well-rested and ready to race. While Martin was sitting at home last week, Brian Vickers brought the No. 55 home to a fifth-place finish. 

Heading into Fontana, Martin sported something new: not a haircut, new shoes, or even a fresh paint scheme; Martin was rollin' with scads of swagga. 

“Epic Swag stole my name last Saturday so this weekend I'm stealing his," Martin said. "We'll run Epic Swag above the driver's window where my name is usually. What do they say?  ‘Turnabout is fair play.''

After starting the race in third, Martin raced in the top 10 all afternoon. He and crew chief Rodney Childers worked to get the handling dialed in during the early portion of the race as Martin reported he was too loose on the bottom of the track and too tight on the top.

When the caution flag waved at Lap 125, Childers and Martin debated whether or not to pit. Four tires and no changes were the call as Martin came to pit road as the rain fell. That call took Martin from 11th at the time of caution, to a 12th place finish. Not bad, the gamble could have paid off if the race had resumed.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get a chance to finish the race today. The Aaron’s Dream Machine was really good and we were ready to get back at it. I’m glad we got the race in for the fans but I sure wish we could have gone the distance. The guys gave me another good car. These Toyotas are fun to drive.”

Next week, Brian Vickers returns at Martinsville as Mark Martin will take his swagga to Twitter again. Follow along at @55MarkMartin.

The NAPA team in action.
Martin Truex Jr: NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry 
Started: 13th
Finished: 8th 
Points: 5th (-20)

NAPA knows how to make improvements in 2012!

With five races complete, Truex and the No. 56 NAPA team have shown vast improvements. Last season at this time the team had an average finish of 15.4 and in those same five races this season, an average finish of 9.4.
Continuing their early-season charge, Truex and Co. started the race in 13th position. Crew chief Chad Johnston worked to get the handling dialed in for MTJ as he said he was lacking front grip.
At Lap 115, running in 10th place, Truex was told to go, weather was coming. Less than 10 laps later the caution and eventually the red flag waved, with the No. 56 team finishing the day in 8th. Slipping back one position in the points, Truex is now in fifth. 

“Overall, it’s been a decent day,” said Truex following the race. “This place was really tough on us last year. It’s nice to come in here and have a decent run -- something we can build on.”

For your enjoyment:

Everyone is a Lucky Dog with Aaron's, but apparently even Lucky doesn't want to chase after Mikey's car. 

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Rolling into Cali with their "swag" MWR again posts top-15 finishes MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Rolling into Cali with their "swag" MWR again posts top-15 finishes Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, March 26, 2012 Rating: 5