MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: From pole to top 15s, MWR survives the Monster

Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Mark Martin started the weekend off on the right foot for the Michael Waltrip Racing stable, pacing Friday's practice, claiming the pole on Saturday and looking like he would be the car to beat on Sunday. Although the win did not come to fruition this week, the three teams again showed why you should be paying attention to the MWR organization. If not for the drivers, for their awesome Twitter skills and attempts at comedy on the side.

Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota
Started: 4th
Finished: 5th
Points: 10th (-81) gain of two positions from last week

Clint Bowyer led the way for the MWR contingent at Dover, slaying the Monster and claiming a top-5 finish. More importantly, Bowyer now climbs into the top 10 in points and sits 81 behind Greg Biffle.

Racing in the top 10 throughout the race, it took a gutsy move by Bowyer to climb to second just past the halfway point of the race. Despite battling teammate Mark Martin for position, a close call on pit road as Ryan Newman slid into the No. 15 pit box and tapped a crew member, nothing stopped Bowyer and his determination. With this finish, Bowyer and the team now have two top-five and six top-10 finishes in 2012.

Bowyer took some time to play comedian as captured as his in-car camera. "These are the jokes. You can laugh at them or you can sit there." Later he said, "I've got a booger-cam here." (Don't ask, I just report it!)

“It was a solid weekend for our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota.  I had a tough day on pit road.  I was able to battle back on restarts and get positions back.  It’s just hard to make them up when you lose them.  I’m proud of the guys, proud of the effort.  MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) had good cars all weekend long.  Mark (Martin) sat on the pole and we had a top-five car pretty much all day long. We’ll go on.”

And Bowyer also took to Twitter to say, "Solid weekend for the ole 15 bunch. Pattie did a good job of keeping up with the racetrack. Got some things to work on in the pits but happy."

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Mark Martin, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
Started: 1st, 3rd pole of 2012! 
Finished: 14th
Points: 13th 

Mark Martin continues to prove that age is just a number! In 2012, at the spry young age of 53 has scored his 3rd pole, the 54th of his career and of note, the 13th pole past the age of 50.

"I can’t sit on these poles without the fastest race car and MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and Rodney Childers in particular and the guys on our team are doing that. We won one little challenge today and that was to sit on the pole and that gives us a good starting position and a good pit stall, but the whole race is completely dictated by how your car handles in race setup," Martin said after his qualifying run and pole award.

Although starting on the pole, Jimmie Johnson quickly passed Martin for the lead on Lap 1. Although handling was a persistent challenge throughout the race, Martin led a total of 43 laps before finishing in 14th.

Positive despite the defeat, Martin said after the race, “We did run well.  I’m proud of the effort by the guys.  We had a pretty strong Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota. We need race cars like that to be a contender.  We’ll keep working on it. We’re learning these race cars. I think it’s one of the best performances that we’ve had.  I think we’re making some progress.”

After the race, crew chief Rodney Childers explained the decision to pit by taking to Twitter. "Well crap... Got crazy loose when we were running 4th, then we made it too tight and killed it the next run.. @55MarkMartin did a great job." Continuing on, Childers said, "We took a shot at it with 2 tires and was so close to beating them off pit off.. I appreciate the effort today. We had speed all weekend."

Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
Started: 18th 
Finished: 7th
Points: 6th (-45)

New England native Martin Truex Jr. returned to the Monster Mile, the site of his one and only NSCS win back in June of 2007. Speaking to the media on Friday, Truex exuded love for his home track.

"Since the first time I came here, I’ve really enjoyed the race track.  I’ve just always loved it.  I’ve always been fast here. Obviously, winning Nationwide races and winning my first Cup race here -- all those things make it special. I can remember making my first-ever Nationwide start here in a car that we built at my Dad’s shop up in New Jersey -- like three of us put together and we qualified I think 10th, or something.  This place has just always been special to me. It’s always been a place where I’ve been able to come to no matter what the circumstances -- how my season’s been going, how the team is doing, all that stuff -- I’ve always been able to come here and run well. And so, it’s just a place that I really enjoy. I’m not really sure what it is about the place that makes me good here, but I just really love it and I think that’s a big part of it."

After a less-than-stellar qualifying run, Martin Truex Jr. started the FedEx 400 mid-pack in 18th position. Crew chief Chad Johnston worked to tighten up the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota and by the halfway point, Truex was battling in the top 10. Finishing in 7th was not what Truex may have hoped for but after a day of challenges, could be considered a win.

Feeling a little bitten by the monster, Truex was asked after the race if he still enjoys Dover, despite the challenges faced. “I like the track, it’s just hard when you’re off a little bit. If your car is off just a little, it’s a damn handful and it’s all you can do to hang on to it. There were times today -- there was 25, 30 times -- that I thought I was wrecking and just got lucky and saved it.”

"What a handfull today! I crashed 30 times just never hit nothing lol. Chad did a great job adjusting and getting us in the ballpark," Truex said on Twitter after the race.

And to lighten things up a bit, Truex cheered his brother Ryan on proudly during Saturday's Nationwide race. Ryan placed second after being passed by teammate Joey Logano in the closing laps. As ESPN Sports Center recapped the race, Ryan was apparently called Ryan Truex Jr. Prompting this Tweet from a protective and irritated big brother. "watching sports center and they called @Ryan_Truex , ryan truex jr again!!! Hello???"

* Due to the Pocono reconfiguration and resurfacing, all teams will be testing there on Wednesday and Thursday before this weekend's Pocono 400.

In closing this week, I share this Twitter photo from Michael Waltrip, better known on Twitter as @mw55.

I guess the Monster does not look so scary from up above!
MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: From pole to top 15s, MWR survives the Monster MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: From pole to top 15s, MWR survives the Monster Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, June 04, 2012 Rating: 5