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.
MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Short trackin' at Richmond MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Short trackin' at Richmond Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, April 29, 2012 Rating: 5