Monday, July 16, 2012

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: Bowyer fighting for the win at Loudon

Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Clint Bowyer put on a heck of a show as the laps wound down at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, hoping to be the lucky man feasting on the prize lobster as his dinner. While Brian Vickers and Martin Truex ran well at times, neither driver were in contention for the win.

Clint Bowyer straps in before Satuday's practice.
Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY
Started: 5th
Finished: 3rd 
Points: 9th (-93)

Earlier this week, Clint Bowyer spoke with the media as part of NASCAR's weekly teleconferences. I took the opportunity to ask Bowyer about his Sonoma win and the momentum it has given the team.

I said, "The win at Sonoma not only put you on the map this season but MWR as a whole has kind of been underrated. So how is the momentum at the shop for you, the guys, and the team in general? It has to be a big boost for morale."

Bowyer responded, "It is. Just to see -- it meant a lot to me. That's one thing that I think people realize. But what it meant to MWR, everybody sees that. Their first win in a long time. They've made a huge investment and commitment to this sport, especially in the last year. They've brought on two new drivers. They've expanded in a situation that most teams are pulling back. They've spent more dollars and expanded. Like I said, made a big commitment.

So to see that pay off for them was very, very gratifying. For me, going to a new team with so many unknowns and concerns, to get all that put to bed early in the season and run well and to get that win was just huge.

That being said, you're right back to me, as a racer, crashed last weekend at Daytona, had a poor finish, fell back a couple spots in the points, and now I'm back on the worry train again. It's just the way racing is. It's a very humbling sport."

Now onto Loudon...

Bowyer stayed in the top 10 for much of the race even though he battled an ill-handling car through the middle portion of the race. Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie worked on adjustments and after a four-tire stop at Lap 193, he moved from 13th to 6th in just 40 laps.

After a final pit stop, taking two tires, Bowyer worked his way up to second in the closing laps but a hard charging Denny Hamlin passed him as the laps clicked away. Bowyer finished third after leading the charge for the MWR team.

After the race, Bowyer Tweeted: "Great finish for us. Very proud of Pattie for putting us in that position!"

Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Brian Vickers, No. 55's
Started: 15th
Finished: 15th
Points: 12th according to owners points (-156)

As I was scanning the drivers radios, I heard Mike Calinoff, spotter for Matt Kenseth, refer to the 55 car as the "double nickels" and I have to say, this is a nickname that will stick with me.

That being said, the race was not so productive for the "double nickel," who raced in the top 20 throughout the race and climbed as high as 4th.

"We had a good car. Really good car. Adjusted well on it when we had to. Slid the tires on the final stop and got caught back in traffic," Vickers Tweeted at the conclusion of the race. (Ever notice that MWR drivers are diligent Tweeters?) He continued, "Proud of @rchilders55- all the guys for their hard work. We continue to build on this realtionship. Its been a lot of fun. Next one is @wgi."

Mark Martin returns to the No. 55 in two weeks at Indianapolis.

Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts
Started: 4th
Finished: 11th
Points: 8th (-90)

Handling plagued the No. 56 team and driver Martin Truex Jr. From loose in - tight center - loose off - Truex's day was a battle. Crew chief Chad Johnston worked on the handling but to no avail. An 11th place finish would be all they could wrangle, holding onto 8th in the points.

"It was a battle for sure, Truex said of the race. "We weren’t very good all day. We had a couple moments where we were okay, but for the most part it was a battle all day. Had trouble on pit road, had trouble making adjustments the wrong way and all that. It was a rough one. I guess 11th on your worst day is pretty good."

"Rough day glad we have a week off to regroup. Still a decent finish but we need to be better," Truex Tweeted after the race.


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