Sunday, May 6, 2012

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Dodging disasters at 'Dega


The No. 55 Aaron's Color Your Way Toyota leads the way during the Aaron's 499.
It's only fitting that Lucky gets up front for a bit. Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

There is no doubt about it, the Michael Waltrip Racing drivers are plate racers! Led by team owner and sometimes-driver Michael Waltrip who has four career wins, all at plate races, MWR was poised for a win this weekend. Clint Bowyer has won the last two fall races at 'Dega and Martin Truex Jr. is the lone MWR driver without a win.

Clint Bowyer with the No. 15 crew, sporting houndstooth caps
made famous by Alabama coach Bear Bryant.
Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for NASCAR




Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Aaron’s/Alabama National Champions Toyota
Started: 24th 
Finished: 6th
Points: 10th (+2) 

"Roll Tide!"

Alabama was cheering for Clint Bowyer this weekend as he sported a special Aaron's paint scheme honoring the University of Alabama's 2011 BSC championship. Bowyer's crew sported houndstooth caps made popular by Alabama coach Bear Bryant and, in keeping with his helmets of icons, Bryant adorned Bowyer's helmet for this weekend.

After starting in 24th, Bowyer opted for strategy and dropped to the rear of the field early on. At the half-way point, it was go time for the No. 15 team. Bowyer began to work his way through the field and had worked his way up to second before he received minor damage in the Lap 186 accident which claimed multiple cars.

Starting in 10th for the green-white-checkered finish, Bowyer and Kasey Kahne worked together to try to power to the front. Falling short, Bowyer finished in sixth while Kahne finished in fourth.

“She (No. 15 Camry) was blowing water before I even got to the line, but that was my only shot," Bowyer said when asked about his last lap. "Kasey (Kahne) made a couple good moves to juke and jive up there.  Never led a lap for the Alabama gang -- really wanted to.  All in all it was a good points day for us.  It is fun -- it’s unbelievable how the storm brews all day long until the last few laps there.  You just go like hell and hope for the best.”

In a hilarious post-race Tweet, Clint laughed off the heat, "I'll be Damned if I don't have blisters on my feet...And matching 2 1/2 inch blisters on "BOTH" ass cheeks. Can't help but laugh! #FML

The No. 55 paint scheme was designed by nine-year-old 
Emery Beavis of Dyerbury, Tenn.
Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Aaron's Color Your Way Toyota 
Started: 9th
Finished: 19th
Points: 9th in owners (+1) 

Mark Martin wisely took the wild 'Dega weekend off, handing over the steering wheel to owner Michael Waltrip.

"Boss man" Michael Waltrip played triple roles today as pre-race announcer for NASCAR on FOX (firesuit under his jacket and tie), team owner to his three cars and driver of the No. 55 this week.

Waltrip actually looked like MWR's best chance at a win, starting in 9th, Waltrip took the lead at Lap 25. Leading for 21 laps, Waltrip's car was strong all afternoon until he was nailed just moments after Bowyer. Pitting for repairs, Waltrip returned to the track to finish in 19th.

Mark Martin will return next week at Darlington, Waltrip's next race will be at his home track of Kentucky Speedway on June 24.

“We took off and the guy in front of me didn’t go, I let off and I got clobbered, it’s just chain reaction.  I tell you I had a ball. I’m going to be better on Fox because those guys speak in code out there -- it's just crazy and we’re out in the middle of them and seeing how they drive and the moves they make.  I’m just really happy I got to experience it, was hoping for a better finish but I enjoyed myself.”

Photo credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
Started: 15th 
Finished: 28th
Points: 6th (-1)

Opting for the "safe" route, Martin Truex Jr. also dropped back to the rear of the field early in the race.

Before he even had the chance to make his charge to the front, Truex was collected in the first "big one" in a multi-car wreck. After repairs in the garage, the No. 56 returned to the track in effort to point race.

Post-race, Truex said of the accident, “We were kind of out there taking our time trying to get to the end, taking care of our temps. Our NAPA Toyota was really fast and just waiting until the end to use it. Unfortunately we didn’t make it there. Not sure what happened up ahead. I about made it through there and I was kind of spinning down the track a little bit. I think the 24 (Jeff Gordon) came along and hit us and that’s what really killed the car. Before that we were going to be okay. It’s just one of those deals, I’m not sure what happened up ahead -- a lot of smoke and just guys stopping in front of me and tried to turn to get below and kind of got into the side of the 20 (Joey Logano), got sideways and then I got hit.”

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