Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Waltrip's duo loose, fast

Martin Truex, left, and Clint Bowyer both landed spots in the Chase, the first two for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Getty Images

Martin Truex, left, and Clint Bowyer both landed spots in the Chase, the first two for Michael Waltrip Racing.

JOLIET, Ill. — Last weekend it was a win for Clint Bowyer. On Friday, it was the announcement of a new sponsor.

Today, the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship will begin — for the first time with a driver from Michael Waltrip Racing.

Two, in fact.

"It seems like ever since I made this change over to Michael Waltrip, it's almost daily that there's more good news around the corner," Bowyer said.

Five years after an atrocious showing for Toyota in the manufacturer's first season in NASCAR's top series, MWR has had an impressive season. Bowyer and Martin Truex are both in the Chase, which starts at Chicagoland Speedway.

This is quite a step for a team that had four top-five finishes all of last year.

"We just have a great core group of folks that embrace the team atmosphere, just love working at MWR," Waltrip said after Bowyer's victory last weekend at Richmond. "That's probably the thing I'm most thankful for, is the fact that everybody gets along, everybody wants each other to do good."

MWR launched in 2007, but Waltrip became embroiled in a cheating scandal at the season-opening Daytona 500 and quickly ran out of money. Rob Kauffman, an investment fund manager and racing fan, bought into the organization and pumped in cash, and Joe Gibbs Racing defected from Chevrolet to Toyota at the end of that year. When ties to Chevrolet were officially over, J.D. Gibbs visited with every Toyota team to offer support, including technical advice.

MWR's commitment at the Cup level really increased last season. The organization expanded to three cars by hiring Bowyer for 2012, and he's come through with two victories and six top-five showings. Truex also has six top-fives this year.

Bowyer owns two of MWR's four Sprint Cup wins — David Reutimann of Zephyrhills brought the team its first two victories, one in 2009 and one in '10.

"Michael really put everything he had into it, made the full commitment right out of the box," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was teammates with Waltrip at Dale Earnhardt Inc. when Waltrip won his two Daytona 500s. "They did struggle. Now he's able to enjoy all the efforts and the sacrifices he made."

Friday, Waltrip and Bowyer announced a deal with PEAK Motor Oil for partial sponsorship from 2013-15. That only added to the loose atmosphere surrounding the team.

Bowyer's attitude seems to personify the team.

"There was this one time he said I was the worst driver in NASCAR. That showed a lot of personality," Waltrip joked. "It's genuine. That's most important."

Bowyer has five top-10 runs in six starts at Chicagoland, and now he'll have a chance to start the Chase on the right note there.

"I hope I haven't changed any. I'm running better than I ever have, and when you run better, you're seen more," Bowyer said. "I've always kind of enjoyed being under the radar, enjoying this sport and having fun with my guys and my team, the organization around you and your sponsors. I've never worked with an organization that does a better job of networking with their sponsors."

.FAST FACTS

Sprint Cup points

Going into the 10-race Chase for the Championship. The points were reset after last week's race. Only these drivers are eligible to win the title.

Driver Pts. Back

Denny Hamlin 2012—

Jimmie Johnson 2009 3

Tony Stewart 2009 3

Brad Keselowski 2009 3

Greg Biffle 2006 6

Clint Bowyer 2006 6

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2003 9

Matt Kenseth 2003 9

Kevin Harvick 2000 12

Martin Truex 2000 12

Kasey Kahne 2000 12

Jeff Gordon 2000 12

Waltrip's duo loose, fast 09/15/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 8:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.