Sunday, April 29, 2012

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Short trackin' at Richmond

Mark Martin wins the third pole of the year for MWR, his second for the team.
Courtesy of Michael Waltrip Racing
The media buzz around Michael Waltrip Racing is at a fever pitch with Martin Truex Jr. performing at his career best while MWR newcomers Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin are vying to get a win for the team. Who will get the first win of the season for MWR? Flip a coin! Any one of the three drivers (four if you count Brian Vickers...five if you count Michael himself) are capable of winning. It's astonishing to think the MWR team was recently considered an underdog, at best a top-20 team. Underdogs no more, MWR have worked their tails off to be lucky dogs. (Sponsor pun intended.)

Clint Bowyer climbs into the No. 15 prior to the Capital City 400
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 5 hour ENERGY Toyota
Started: 23rd
Finished: 7th
Points: 12th (-1)

After two rough races for the No. 15 team, Clint Bowyer was back in contention at Richmond.

From the drop of the green flag Bowyer began moving forward, climbing from his 23rd-place starting spot into the top 10 by Lap 150. By Lap 290 he had battled into the top five. As the yellow flew at Lap 309, Bowyer was lapped and took the wave around to get back on the lead lap in sixth position.
On the final caution at Lap 387, Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie made the decision to pit for four fresh tires and fuel. The 5-hour ENERGY team finished the Capital City 400 in 7th place.

“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota was great all night," said Bowyer. "We had one little hiccup after the first pit stop when the car wasn’t handling very well, but we made adjustments the next stop and the car just took off. We worked our way into the top five, but it got away from us a little in the end. It was a great car and it was amazing most of the night. They gave me a great car and turned out good pit stops all night long. Overall it’s a top-10 finish. We wanted a little more, but it’s a good points day and we’ll take it and move on.”

Get your "Epic Swag" Mark Martin shirts
Mark Martin, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
Started: POLE
Finished: 8th
Points: 10th in owners points (+1)

Fun fact: Did you know Mark Martin won the pole award at Richmond in 1981? His first career pole came that very season at Nashville. The fall Richmond race was his second pole and nearly 31 years later, Martin still had what it took to claim the pole award at RIR, the 53rd of his career.

Martin led the first 29 laps until being passed by outside pole-sitter Carl Edwards. Martin reported to the team that handling was an issue; he felt that the tires on the left rear were being used up very quickly. Crew chief Rodney Childers worked at the No. 55 throughout the evening to make adjustments and at Lap 162 told his driver, "Long way to go. Definitely have a direction. We just have to make a big step on next stop."
After falling to 17th at one point, the car was dialed in by Lap 300 and Martin was able to make up the lost ground. On the final restart he lined up 10th and ended the night in eighth position.

“That was a battle tonight," Martin said after the race. "I thought we were going to finish six laps down. But they got it fixed. Never have I had a car they were able to fix like they did tonight. That was amazing. That was a well-earned eighth-place finish. I’m proud of what my guys did tonight. They didn’t give up and we walked out of here with a top-10. That’s cool.”

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Martin Truex Jr, No. 56 NAPA Brakes Toyota
Started: 8th
Finished: 25th
Points: 5th (-3)

Handling issues plagued the No. 56 NAPA car throughout the evening but crew chief Chad Johnston went to work trying to dial the car in. Even though the team made major changes at Lap 209, Truex reported the handling was better for only a few laps but faded away.

The caution at Lap 309 fell as Truex was pitting costing him two laps he would not regain. He struggled to finish 25th.

"It is disappointing. This is usually a good race for us, but not tonight that's for sure. I'm happy to see that overall MWR produced two top-10 cars,  that we can go back and figure out where we went wrong. It's unfortunate, but we'll rally back and be ready for Talladega next week," Truex said.


  1. Ouch....looks like Marty slid back about 3 positions, according to your stats. Could this be a season much like 2011? Time will tell. Just read over on Jayski that poll winners rarely win at Richmond and guess that still holds true, for "Mummy" Martin.

    Amanda, if things slow down a little over in Cornelius,at POS-Racing/Motormouth Motorsports, I was wonder if you might work-up a story on Frankie Stoddard and that #32 Ford Fusion team of his. I had the pleasure of visiting the shop when it was the Sorbe No-Fear race team a couple of years ago. It is a very small team with only Frankie and a couple more crew, working full-time. Very open shop and Frank came right over and spent a few minutes talking with me. Most unusual shop, for that Concord Airpark shop-area.

    You and the other writers do some very nice stories on the "minor league" teams in NA$CAR.

    A lot of other great stories in NHRA, especially for women. I am a big John Force fan (Fords, of course) and really dig the female drivers in NHRA. NHRA seems much more "female-friendly" for their drivers, than NA$CAR! There is a LONG history of women drivers winning in many classes of drag racing.

    I really enjoy reading your stories, especially the ones which are non-POS-Racing, as you can probably tell.

    BTW, please call-off your editor, "LJ". I thought my ex-wife wrote that post she planted, after your Pastrami-article last Satureday, until I figured-out who she was! My *** is still sore from the kickin' she gave me! I am still typing this......while in a standing-position, and it is Monday afternoon! I will not let her discourage me from continuing to read "skirtsandscuffs", however, Amanda.

  2. Sorry folks, Reuti is STILL the only driver with wins at mwr!! and with junk equipment.

  3. Hey Zhills.....agreed. That deal has further soured me on POS-Racing/Motormouth Motorsports, the way that deal went-down, towards the end of the season.

    I just read a few comments, over on a topic concerning your same view, on the Speed Forums.

    Check it out!

  4. ddsbstrb,

    We're delighted to have comments such as the one above, and encourage you to read our work and comment! At Skirts and Scuffs we invite dissenting opinions as long as they are respectful, especially of the writers. You don't have to like the team or how they do business, but please don't take it out on the writer.

    The suggestion about Frankie Stoddard is an excellent one, and it's right up Amanda's alley, though if she doesn't grab it and run, I might; I remember when Frankie was on Jeff Burton's pit box and Tommy Baldwin was on Ward's. Talk about clashing accents!

    Thanks to Shirley Muldowney and others like her, NHRA is more open to women, though I tend to think the fact that they only have to handle the car for a few minutes at a time and less than 4 seconds at speed tends to make it easier for women to be successful at drag racing than stock cars or open-wheel racing. There are very real physical demands placed on the body during a 400-500 mile race and to handle those demands and win takes a lot of intestinal fortitude. Just ask guys like Mike Skinner, who has truck championships but no Cup wins.

    Thanks again for reading! Here's a cushion for your backside. (grin)

  5. LJ....backside is slowing feeling better! Thanks for the offer.

    Excellent points about the female drivers in NHRA. With all of the chaos going on with NASCAR (Camry of Tomorrow,Chase, phantom cautions, etc) I have found more enjoyment from NHRA, even though they reset points with their version of NASCAR's "Chase". Going along with your comments, I believe the women are great "finesse" drivers, thus, their success in drag racing.

    Even though a male, I have never felt threatened by female drivers in motorsports. I have always supported the female drivers. One of my favorites was Ray Evernham's wife Erin Crocker. Sadly, that relationship with Ray seemed to end her career, at least in NASCAR. I actually saw her drive in WoO, over at Eldora, when she was just starting to run those 410 winged sprints. Could you just imagine the fear, with a guy like Steve Kinser....behind you. That guy scares me, just watching him talk in an interview!

    Remember Gabi DiCarlo? She had a fairly successful career in ARCA, driving the #90 Great Clips car. I also saw her run at Salem and Toledo, two of ARCA's more difficult speedways, and I think she might have finished at both tracks. Easier said, than actually done!

    Now, there are a couple of great ideas for a couple of stories. What ever happened to Gabi & Erin?

  6. I'm sneaking this at work so I can't go into detail but Amanda beat you to one of those. Here's Erin's story:

  7. I love a challenge and ddsbstrb, I have interviewed drivers across the board as you saw with Paulie Harraka last week.

    Telling the stories of ALL drivers is what I strive to do, you merely focus on this, my Michael Waltrip Racing team recap. Talkin' Trucks is my interview series with the NCWTS drivers and beyond that, today I just interviewed Jeremy Clements in the NNS...another driver who is a great driver but under funded.

    I appreciate your comments, but keep in mind that I do so much beyond this. Look around and see, MWR is just one or two articles a week.

    We can agree to disagree, you obviously have strong feelings about MWR and I respect that, but please respect me as someone just doing their job.

    And read the Erin Crocker Evernham interview - it was a great chat!

    Thanks for always reading S&S and sharing your passion with us,


  8. Excellent....just finished reading it. Pretty complex life and career.

    Too bad those involved with her NASCAR-career were not more patient with her. I know she wrecked a bunch of trucks. I am sure she is more secure, currently in her life. I guess she needed to get JAWS behind her, when she ran ARCA/Daytona, like the "boost" he gave Danica! Just kiddin' you!

  9. Amanda has anyone done a story on Tim Andrews? I see he is running Dega this Saturday? Tim's wife and my son graduated the same year at the same high school. My late wife was a pro photographer and did Tim's wife's "senior pictures" when she graduated. I have only seen Tim in one interview as he usually does a S&P. I think this was ORP when he ran or tried to run an entire race and got in Steve Wallace's way and got wrecked. Speed did interview him, as he walked from infield-care. Tim's wife, of course, was right behind him, during that interview. That was neat to see her on national TV!

    Just to keep you happy (just kiddin' you), Tim's dad, Paul Andrews, was a crew chief (for MW) over at that converted bowling alley/cinema, on Chartwell Dr. in Cornelius! He didn't last very long and I have the scanner/headphones to prove it. It was LVMS, probably 2008, and that #55 was having an extremely bad week-end (I know, image that). My Uniden and headphones were partially "melted", by the language coming over my scanner, for practices, qualifications and the race (he finally put the 55 into the "wall"). Paul's short-career over there ended, not long after LVMS.

    Another fav. of mine is Brian Silas, driving that #99 Ford F-150. He sat right in front of me, a couple of years ago, at Salem, when he came into the stands to watch the race before the ARCA race. It was great to be able to talk with him. I didn't know who he was, until driver intros.

    If S&S has profiled these two, please send me the links and I will gladly read their stories.

    Really enjoyed E. Evernham's interview, most interesting, btw!

  10. ddsbstrb, Amanda did a story on Tim last August here:
    Tim and Jennifer last August:

    I managed to get a couple of photos of Paul Andrews working on Tim's car. When I started watching NASCAR, he was on the pit box for Terry Labonte, then Steve Park.

    We don't have a recent interview or story with Tim, but it's likely we will have soon.