On Day Two of the Sprint Media Tour, Michael Waltrip Racing was featured. Waltrip’s team was considered the most improved in 2012, having two of his three teams make the Chase and the third very close. This year, there are few changes at MWR.
“If you’re looking for change, there isn’t any,” Waltrip said. “We’re going to try to build on last year.” Clint Bowyer was cautiously optimistic. “I don’t think we overachieved, because I think when you say overachieved it means you did more than you’re capable of, Bowyer said. “I just think we were beyond expectations and what people expected of us. I’m very proud of what we accomplished last year.
I’ve looked forward to this year and what we have in front of us and the opportunities ahead with this new car and continue to build on what we had last year. That’s more important to me right now, is making sure we get the year started off right and the only way I know to do that is to win the Daytona 500.”
Bowyer was asked what it was like being around someone like Mark Martin.
“You know, Mark Martin first of all is a class act. He’s a racer, he’s driven beyond belief. His focus and determination is incredible and is just a great asset for our program and to be around as an individual. I’m very, very happy that he’s my teammate. I’m very appreciative of the fact that he’s my teammate and hopefully he’s in the sport for many years to come,” Bowyer said.
Mark Martin was asked how he felt about the new Gen 6 Toyota.
“This is not a dramatic change from what we had. In most ways, it’s subtle improvements all around until it gets to the aesthetics, and then that is — I would say — a huge improvement, Martin said. “Aesthetically, it’s a big change. Mechanically, it’s a nice improvement, a nice evolution of what we were doing, so operationally it’s not that huge. We went to the race track and we picked up where we left off at the end of last year and I saw most, pretty much everyone do that.”
Martin Truex, Jr. came close to winning races last year, but the improvement was possibly more dramatic with his Toyota.
“Really, it was the end of 2011 that got it started. We built new cars, we did a lot of things differently, had momentum going into the off-season, felt good and had a good direction going into 2012. I told a lot of people last year — or last winter – that we were going to be somebody that could go out and run strong each and every week and I felt like we could go out and make the Chase, and we were able to do that. It started in 2011 for sure, but it was mostly a direction of the team. The direction that the team was going in because of our leadership, because of Michael (Waltrip, co-owner) and Rob’s (Kauffman, co-owner) commitment to put our team where it was last year. And, that commitment obviously is to keep going in that directly and hopefully we’ll be able to do it this year.”
Truex also mentioned that the reason sponsorship was so stable at MWR was that the organization was “all in” in sponsors. “Here’s what we’re going to do for you and here’s what it costs,” Truex said. Sponsors like that.”
Co-owner Waltrip was very enthusiastic about the new season, but at the same time amazed at how good the formula worked.
“I was just amazed at Brian Pattie’s (No. 15 crew chief) ability to run a race,” Waltrip said. “To help Clint Bowyer go win races — he really was a master strategist. He understood when to get gas and when to get two tires and so you put a guy behind the wheel like Clint Bowyer, who showed up in NASCAR and you could tell that he could drive a car better than most and then you give him a guy that’s a bit of a risk taker and a call maker and put him on the pit box like Brian Pattie and you couple all that with the support that Scott Miller (competition director) and the boys that build the cars and do the engineering at MWR — they were a really fun combination to watch. I’m just looking forward to watching them go again in 2013.”
MWR will make no changes, as the co-owner said, from the formula that worked so well in 2012. Bowyer and Truex will have full time rides with Martin and Brian Vickers sharing the third car.