KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Clint Bowyer was in an odd predicament a couple of months ago.
The veteran driver had lined up sponsorship for next season, no easy task in a sluggish economy, but he couldn't work out an agreement to remain with Richard Childress Racing.
So, Bowyer looked elsewhere and took his sponsor with him.
On Friday, Michael Waltrip Racing said that it had signed Bowyer to a three-year deal to drive the No. 15 Toyota next season. The sponsor, 5-hour Energy, will come on board for 24 races beginning with the Daytona 500, leaving a dozen dates left to fill.
"I see their performance improving week-in and week-out. I had to work my butt off to make sure I was on top of them," Bowyer said of his new team during a news conference at Kansas Speedway. "I see this as a wonderful opportunity for me to prove myself."
Bowyer's contract with RCR will quietly expire after a moderately successful six-year run that included four wins and three appearances in the Chase for the Championship.
"It's a shame. I owe a great deal to Richard," Bowyer said. "I've never been in a situation where I had a sponsor that came to me and said, 'We would like to have you. You're the asset.' So I felt a responsibility to go to an organization where I can build a brand."
Bowyer will join a team featuring David Reutimann of Zephyrhills and Martin Truex.
"It was the No. 1 thing on our radar screen at the start of this year. We felt we had built our organization to where we felt we could contend for Chase spots," Waltrip said. "Having guys like David and Martin and Clint, we're poised. We're on the brink of that."
BIFFLE, EDWARDS ON FRONT ROW: Carl Edwards doesn't like sneaking up on people. He'd rather have a big lead and let everyone else try to track him down. Maybe that's why he was so giddy over his qualifying run Friday.
The Sprint Cup co-leader ran a lap of 174.571 mph, putting him on the front row with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle for Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Biffle had the fast lap at 174.887 around the 1.5-mile oval.
"I'm proud of our qualifying effort and pretty excited to have an all-Ford front row," said Edwards, who earned his best starting spot ever at Kansas. "That's pretty neat. There's a lot of pride for that in our shop."
Kyle Busch (174.447 mph) is third for the Hollywood Casino 400 followed by Matt Kenseth. Kevin Harvick, the other series co-leader, lines up 14th. Reutimann starts 27th.