Sunday, May 13, 2012

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Attempting to Tame the Lady in Black

MWR continued to prove why they are a legit contender for wins in 2012. Martin Truex Jr. once again battled for the win during the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway while his teammates just battled, period. Still, the No. 15 and No. 55 teams never stopped trying to gain positions.

Clint Bowyer on track for practice.
Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 5-HOUR Energy
Started: 26th
Finished: 11th
Points: 11th (-1)

Clint Bowyer's evening can be summed up simply as a see-saw effect with up and down battles throughout the race. Nevertheless, the No. 15 team kept digging.

Starting back in 26th there was really only one way to go, up to the front, but it was not an easy fight. The leaders lapped cars at a fast and furious pace as the first 173 laps were under the green flag the whole run. Crucial to the fight: the No. 15 5-HOUR Energy pit crew, who performed  many green flag pit stops and helped Bowyer gain positions on track.

After pitting at Lap 50, Bowyer was working around 18th position, gaining steadily. Pitting at Lap 145 from 12th place, Bowyer complained he was dealing with a loose condition on track, so crew chief Brian Pattie made wedge adjustments to the No.15. With just 14 cars on the lead lap, Bowyer went down one at Lap 163, but the caution soon came out and he received the Aaron's Lucky Dog pass to get his position back.

Bowyer's up and down night continued during pit stops and restarts, but ending the night in 11th can be counted as a success.

“This isn’t one of my best tracks, so to get out of here -- I had a top-10 there and they got together down there in (turn) one and two and I checked up and the 9 (Marcos Ambrose) just had enough momentum.  He was far enough behind me that he didn’t have to check up and sailed right around me, but lucky to get out of here I guess.  She ain’t tore up too bad," Bowyer said of his night trying to tame Darlington.

Mark Martin before the Southern 500
Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Mark Martin, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine
Started: 18th
Finished: 20th
Points: 12th (owners) -3

Much like his teammate, Darlington was "Too Tough to Tame" this time around for Mark Martin.

Concerns were expressed early over the handling of the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine and it was evident Martin was having difficulties because he was lapped early at Lap 98. At that point the team went to work, making changes trying to dial the car in for Martin to be able to race. The crew made air pressure changes and by Lap 166, crew chief Rodney Childers was telling him he was one of the fastest cars on the track.

The problems continued, though, and at Lap 250 Martin radioed into the team, "I have to believe a wheel is a little loose."

Cautions allowed Martin to catch up to the field from being two laps down and he ended the race in 20th and on the lead lap thanks to Aaron's!

After the race Martin took to Twitter, "Well I'm proud of our teams effort tonight. We were not fast but we fought hard. On to the All Star next week."

Martin Truex Jr. races with Kyle Busch and Casey Mears during
the Southern 500 at the famed Darlington Raceway.
Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts
Started: 6th
Finished: 5th
Points: 6th

Martin Truex Jr. is going to win...soon! His performance week in and week out shows how strong of a contender he is and to the doubters of MWR, shame on you!

Truex had a great qualifying effort on Friday, putting him and the No. 56 in prime position throughout the Southern 500. After starting in 6th position he stayed within the top 10 all evening.

At Lap 282 Martin Truex Jr. took the lead for 17 laps until Denny Hamlin passed him. Truex passed Hamlin at Lap 300 to regain the lead for an additional eight laps (25 laps total) until he was passed by eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson.

Settling for 6th, the disappointment was evident by Truex's Twitter comments.

"Thanks @MWRteam for an awesome car. Im cooled off now, if it had went green chad woulda looked like a hero. Im behind my team 100%" Truex said on his Twitter page.

His tweet continued, "The frustration was just me seeing another potential win slip away. Got to focus on the big picture. I promise everyone we will win soon."

Don't forget to vote for Martin Truex Jr. for the 2012 All-Star race next week in Charlotte!


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