Sunday, October 14, 2012

MWR Weekly-Wrap Up: Bowyer's third win of 2012, top 10s across the board

Despite running out of gas mid-celebration, Clint Bowyer still tried to smoke
the grandstands. Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs

This season Michael Waltrip Racing has gone from pretender to contender. Let's face it, many thought MWR would be belly up and that Clint Bowyer made the biggest mistake of his life moving over to the team. Well, y'all were wrong!

Like anything in life, the first years are about learning. MWR is past the "baby" phase and has now matured into a full-fledged competitive Cup team.

All season long, all three cars have been extremely competitive and now as the Chase winds down, Clint Bowyer is still in the title hunt after his third victory of the season.

Team owner Michael Waltrip spoke with raw emotion during their post-race victory press conference and deserves some time in this recap.

"The thing that's the most special to me about the win tonight is we have 160 people that work right up the road from here, and they spend so much time caressing and working on these cars and tuning them and getting them ready to go to the track and this was their home race. They got to come watch our car drive to victory lane," Waltrip said on the victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway, just miles from their race shop.

"Very thankful for the fact that we were able to get to victory lane and our people are able to celebrate the victory," he continued. "I think a significant part of this victory, and I want to just echo Clint's (Bowyer) sentiments, not only did the Toyota engine run with as much power as we needed to win with, we got the fuel mileage we needed to win with, we had just enough gas to do one of the most amazing starts to a burnout I ever saw. It really went kind of downhill from there.  But to have an engine under your hood that can perform like it did qualifying in the top five with a new track record speed, have that kind of speed and then also have the economy that it takes to race to the checker and not have to pit late, I think a lot of people need to look at what our manufacturer has done for our organization.

"You know, Clint has won three races, and he hadn't been able to drive to victory lane yet because of getting there with just enough fuel. And that speaks volumes to what Toyota does. But then a guy like Brian Pattie (crew chief) has to sit on that box and make those calls that get that car just across the start-finish line."

Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Pink Lemonade/Avon Foundation for Women Breast Cancer Crusade 5-hour ENERGY Toyota
Started: 4th
Finished: 1st
Points: 4th (-28) 

With one win, people say you are lucky, two people think...okay they may be onto something but now Clint Bowyer has stunned the naysayers with three wins this season. 

We all know the details of Bowyer's win thanks to the post-race recap on Skirts and Scuffs, so I won't rehash all that. Instead, I want to delve into the comedic genius that is Clint Bowyer.

Post-race press conferences are available on and if you ever watch, they can be a bit of a bore. "I won, thanks to my team, sponsors, crew chief and owner..." is the standard. Clint Bowyer's press conference was nothing standard.

Starting out asking NASCAR's Kerry Tharp. "Are you tired? We gotta pick this pace up a bit, get this man a 5-hour ENERGY!" That was just the beginning of the antics.

After Michael's heartfelt message (above), Clint chimed in and this exchange began:

Waltrip: ...if you miss it a little bit, instead of winning you're an asshole.
Bowyer:: That was last week.
Waltrip: So you're not an asshole.
Pattie: I try not to be.
Bowyer: He was at least 20 minutes slow to victory lane. Were you puking?
Pattie: No, this is the third time that we've won and the third time we had to push it to victory lane.
Bowyer: He told me he were good to the end, so I went ahead and took off. It quit doing it my first rotation of a burnout, so we were pretty close.
Waltrip: I stopped and congratulated Denny on a great run. And Denny said I got too much gas left. I waited too long to make my run, and I said no, you didn't, you did perfect.

In all seriousness, Clint Bowyer is funny y'all! Someone needs to book him an off-season comedy tour!

Where does this win leave Bowyer and the No. 15 team in the Chase? "Realistically, we’re still in the thing," Bowyer said. "We've just got to keep doing what we’re doing. Talladega was a huge setback, but what a great way to bounce back and get pointed in the right direction. Going home next week - that’s going to be a lot of fun. Who knows what’s going to hold with Kansas. The repave and everything, I think it’s going to be maybe another wild card race for all of us in the Chase."

After an apparently wild party last night, Bowyer finally took to Twitter, saying "WTH happened last night. Woke up with a blue jacket, trophy, bottle of jack, a keg, a dog, a new watch, a driveshaft, and a headache! Haha"

Continuing last night's comedy show, Bowyer tweeted, "Oh, another funny from last night... We had a random guy in ALL of our victory lane pics from last night. No clue who it was!!!"

Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Mark Martin, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine
Started: 2nd
Finished: 6th
Points: 14th (owners)

Happy 850th career start, Mark Martin!

Starting that milestone race in the second position, Mark Martin proves that despite being the oldest Sprint Cup driver, age is just a number.

Running within the top five for most of the evening, it looked as though Martin's 850th start could have been a win. Fuel mileage caught up with them and as crew chief Rodney Childers tweeted, "Good car all night. @55MarkMartin did a great job all night. Great pit stops all night. Mpg wasn’t near good enough to make it.."

Pit stop in action - look at that tear-off in mid tear.
Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Martin Truex Jr, No, 56 NAPA Auto Parts
Started: 6th
Finished: 10th 
Points: 7th (-49)  

Handling was an issue for Truex and the No. 56 team; tight conditions made it a long night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Managing to finish the night in the top 10, Truex still is within the Chase hunt but over a full race (43) points behind.

"Congratulations to Clint (Bowyer) and the 15 team," Truex said post-race. "They had a fast car and could go for it on fuel mileage. They certainly have that figured out and I am happy for them. We needed a car that handled better before we could take that gamble. This track has been tough for us. We started out really strong but lost some track position and it was so hard to get it back when we were in traffic. It was so hard to pass. My car was just too tight especially behind a car. For us, to have a tough day and still finish 10th says a lot about this NAPA team. We still need to figure this place out. Again, thanks to Clint (Bowyer) and the 15 team."


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