Sunday, September 9, 2012

MWR Weekly Wrap-Up: A win for Clint Bowyer, two Chase berths for MWR

Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing 
Richmond was BIG for Michael Waltrip Racing. Clint Bowyer's second win of the season concluded NASCAR's regular season and now the team heads to the "playoffs" with two drivers in the fight.

This is MWR's first appearance in the Chase, previously their best points finish was 16th with driver David Reutimann in 2009.

"It's just a really great working atmosphere. I'm thankful for tonight," team owner Michael Waltrip said. "I'm obviously really happy with having two cars in the Chase. My inspiration for having a team from the beginning was Dale Earnhardt. I always wanted to have a team like Dale had. So anytime something goes good, I always think about what all he meant to me. We're thankful."

Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. are in the Chase!
Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing 
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY
Started: 4th
Finished: WINNER!! 
Points: 6th 

From spin to win. Clint Bowyer's post race reaction to a Lap 244 spin (while racing in third) courtesy of Juan Pablo Montoya was priceless.
“God bless Juan Pablo (Montoya). It was stupid really. He was -- I don’t know how many laps down he was -- I know he was at least one and we were running second or third there and he just got into us and knocked my left rear (tire) down. But, luckily I got spun out down there, got the caution and didn’t go a lap down and that was the thing that won us the race. You never know. You never give up in this sport."
After pitting because of the contact, Bowyer fell back to 15th and had to fight to get back to where he once was. Taking the lead at Lap 312, he didn't look back. Crew chief Brian Pattie was telling Bowyer his lap times, and as his lead was lengthening he was told to back it down to save fuel. Having as much as a 12-second lead, Bowyer backed it down as instructed, knowing that fuel and the victory were more important.

As he took the checkered flag, the elation in his voice was overwhelming. So many people had doubted his move to MWR...are they still doubting that now?

“Unbelievable. To be able to win again, everything's new. Brian Pattie and everybody on this team, I'm so proud of them, to be able to bounce back from a bad weekend. Anything bad that could happen last week did happen last week. To be able to bounce back from that and get a win, get that momentum heading into this Chase is exactly what we needed. I’m proud of everybody at MWR, my teammates. Martin Truex was up there, had a great car just like I did. It's unbelievable. To be able to come to a new team, new home like I did with MWR, to be able to have the success our first year is a dream come true."

Bowyer continued, “Never in a million years would I ever dream that I would be racing against these guys and on this racetrack. I love this racetrack. We've won here before. It's just a fun racetrack. I really wish we had three or four more of these across the country. I think it's a great product of what we have on display for our fans. Just like Michael said, thankful to have the opportunity with a new home, new sponsor, new manufacturer with Toyota. With everything new, never would have dreamed in a million years all this would have happened this quickly. Obviously, it's the goal to win races and be in the Chase. Realistically, I knew what we were up against. Just pleasantly surprised.”

"Well, guess I run outta friends to celebrate with....Damn it...Suppose I'll turn it in for the night. #wahoo" a very excited Bowyer tweeted sometime overnight.
"He's still awake" Michael Waltrip
tweeted under the red flag. 

Mark Martin, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine
Started: 6th
Finished: 3rd
Points: n/a

Mark "The Kid" Martin had me on the edge of my seat, hoping he would end up in victory lane and become NASCAR's oldest winner. Although he didn't make it this time, I still have faith he will!  
After qualifying in sixth, Martin ran in the top 10 for much of the race. As teammate Clint Bowyer was leading, Martin was in third and made his way to second before falling back again. Finishing in third, Martin earned his third top-five and seventh top-10 finish of the season.

"It was a heck of a race, tremendous team effort by MWR, Martin said. "Rodney Childers, another amazing job. I love working with those guys. It was a really good run. Our car was strong on the long runs. We got one at the end, and that put us in contention."

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts
Started: 9th
Finished: 21st 
Points: 10th 

While his MWR teammates celebrated top-five finishes, Martin Truex Jr.'s  finish was in no way reflective of his night.
Gambling against the weather, Truex and crew chief Chad Johnston opted not to pit for fresh tires as more rain loomed in the area. The rain held off and his old tires were no match for those who had pitted. As teammate Clint Bowyer took the checkered flag, Martin Truex Jr. finished the race in 21st and now is the 10th Chase seed.

"We had the speed but unfortunately we just got caught out by the weather, Truex explained. "We believed it was about to rain so we didn’t want to risk coming in. Mother Nature didn’t help us and the heavier rain never came. It was worth the risk. We came here to win so we gambled. We had nothing to lose. It’s cool what Clint did tonight. It was going to be either him or Mark Martin. MWR is on a roll going into the Chase. We are pumped up about our chances. This is going to be a lot of fun. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota is going to make some noise in the Chase.”

"What a day for @MWRteam ! We had a fast car again. Cant wait for the chase," Truex shared via Twitter.

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