Tag:Clint Bowyer
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:32 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 4:34 pm
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Video: Early trouble for Bowyer, Kahne at Phoenix

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne found trouble early during the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix. Bowyer blew a tire not once, but twice, while Kahne got loose and smacked the wall. The damage was severe enough that Kahne had to take his car to the garage for repairs.

It's the second straight race Kahne has run into trouble as he wound up 29th in Daytona. Bowyer was coming off an 11th-place finish.




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Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:22 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 8:22 pm
 

Clint Bowyer's car fails qualifying inspection

By Pete Pistone


NASCAR Budweiser Shootout - Practice
(Bowyer's tenure at Michael Waltrip Racing got off on the wrong foot at Daytona)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Clint Bowyer will be forced to the rear of one of Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona qualifying races after his car failed inspection Sunday.

Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota was found to be too low on the front left side during two inspections after qualifying for the Daytona 500. Bowyer's twenty-second fastest speed of the session will be thrown out and he will start last in his qualifying race.

"Really very surprised that we were, I don’t know if we got something stuck in the bleed hole in the shock, but the front just didn’t come back up,” said the team's Director of Competition Scott Mille. “It’s all the same stuff that we ran in practice, and it was coming back up. We’ll go over there and get to the bottom of it and see what happened.”

NASCAR said no further penalties will be levied for the infraction.

Bowyer begins his first season with MWR in 2012 after leaving Richard Childress Racing at the end of last year.

 
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Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:05 pm
 

Clint Bowyer tops Friday's morning session

By Pete Pistone

Clint Bowyer didn't let his Thursday mishap with new Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Mark Martin slow him down on Friday. Bowyer raced to the top of the speed chart leading the first of the day's two test sessions during Daytona Preseason Thunder.

Bowyer and Martin tangled while drafting during Thursday's afternoon session but neither car was damaged in the minor incident. Bowyer' turned a lap 204.722 mph while hooked up with teammate Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR has asked drivers to draft in the traditional pack style formation for Friday's afetrnoon session.

FRIDAY MORNING SPEEDS

 
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Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:01 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 4:10 pm
 

2011 Team Review/Preview: RCR

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Harvick scored four victories in 2011 but came up short again in his bid for a Sprint Cup championship)

Review

The 2011 season didn’t go exactly as Richard Childress Racing had hoped.

After Kevin Harvick came close to winning the 2010 Sprint Cup championship, RCR was poised to make a string run at the title in the following campaign.

But despite enjoying six overall trips to victory lane, the Childress camp came up short of its goals for the season.

Only Harvick made the Chase of the four RCR drivers and although he won four times he finished third in the point standings for a second straight campaign. 

We want to race for a championship,” Harvick said.  “With the performance we had through the year, it was a decent season.  But we need to make things better for next year as we move through the winter.” 

Harvick’s early season success helped solidify his reputation as “The Closer” as he won two races with dramatic late lap moves. 

He passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap for the lead and the win at Auto Club Speedway in March and then capitalized on others running out of fuel on the final lap to win May’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

However despite winning for the fourth time in the regular season finale at Richmond to secure the second seed in the Chase, Harvick was not able to mount a charge for the championship and wound up 58 points behind eventual champ Tony Stewart. 

Harvick’s three other teammates failed to qualify for the playoffs but did have some success of their own during the course of the season. 


Paul Menard scored his first career Sprint Cup Series victory with a dramatic win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The dramatic win ended a long quest by the Menard family to win at the famed track including father John’s days as an Indy Car team owner.

“1989 I think was my first year here,” Menard said after the win. “I spent 14, 15 years in a row just hanging out in the infield being a fan. In 2007, I got to race here. It was definitely the highlight of my career up until that point. Here we are in victory lane. It's unbelievable.”

Menard was in the hunt for a Chase wild card berth but missed the playoff race despite his best career Cup season that included a seventeenth place finish in the standings.

Clint Bowyer ended his tenure at RCR missing out on the Chase but was able to finish the year with a strong run behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet.

Bowyer picked up a checkered flag at October’s Talladega race narrowly edging out teammate Jeff Burton for the victory.

“He worked so well with me all day long,” Bowyer said of Burton. “You hate that it comes down to that. It is what it is. You owe it to your team, to your sponsors to go out and win the race.”

Bowyer ended up 13<sup>th</sup> in the final standings.

Burton struggled in the first half of the year until team owner Childress inserted Luke Lambert as interim crew chief to replace long-time RCR employee Todd Berrier.

He finished a disappointing 20<sup>th</sup> in the standings but a series of Top 10 runs to end the year has Burton feeling better about the future.

“The performance this year was not up to par but our string of Top 10 finishes toward the end of the season is a promising feeling going into next season," he said.
 

Preview

It will be a new-look RCR squad heading into 2012 starting with a contraction of race teams.

Childress will field a three-car stable for the new campaign with Bowyer departing for Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 33 ride shut down due to the lack of sponsorship.

While disappointed he wasn’t able to find funding to keep the car on the track in a full-time capacity, Childress is still bullish on his team’s strength for the coming season.

"Right now we're looking at three Cup cars…," said Childress, who may field a fourth entry in a handful of races for grandson and truck champion Austin Dillon. "Who knows what may come up between now and then. I've had offers to race people and race drivers and had another full sponsorship with a driver.

"I just want to make sure it's the right move when we make it. So we're still as of right now, we're three Cup teams."

Harvick returns to the No. 29 Chevrolet but with a new crew chief after Gil Martin was replaced by Shane Wilson.

Harvick and Wilson have a long history of working together dating back to their Nationwide Series success which both feel will be beneficial to improving the performance of the Cup effort this season.

"Shane is a good friend of mine, and we had a lot of success together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series," Harvick said. "He has a lot of experience now in the Sprint Cup Series, and I look forward to working with him again."

Menard’s team returns intact with veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe calling the shots. Last year’s success and first win has the former Daytona 50 winner feeling good about what lies ahead in season number two with RCR’s No. 27 Chevy.

“Paul and I have worked together now for a number of years,” said Labbe of the time the duo spent at Richard Petty Motorsports before migrating to RCR. “Our relationship is solid and we understand one another better than ever which is a key. We have a solid race team behind us and know what we accomplished last season was only the beginning for this group.”

Finally Burton comes back in the Caterpillar No. 31 ride with yet another new crew chief in Drew Blickensderfer, who worked with David Ragan at Roush Fenway Racing last season.

The highly-touted crew chief and veteran driver Burton both believe they can continue the progress the team made at the tail-end of last season to have a much better 2012.

“We're putting ourselves in position to have fast enough race cars, and have the right group assembled,” Burton said of his team. “I feel like we're in that process as far as getting back to where we can be competitive, and putting ourselves in position to win races. It doesn't happen overnight. But yeah, I do feel like we're building that."
 

Outlook

Sizing down to three cars isn’t the worst thing for RCR, which will be able to concentrate its efforts in a more focused matter. But with two of the trio sporting new driver-crew chief combos, there may be some initial growing pains. Equipment-wise RCR is one of the sport’s powerhouses and its engine program was again stellar last season. Horsepower won’t be an issue again in 2012. Better consistency in the Chase for Harvick and whether Burton can bounce back while Menard continues to improve will be the main questions around RCR in the coming season.


CHECK OUT MORE POSTS FROM OUR 2011 TEAM REVIEW/2012 PREVIEW SERIES 

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:08 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:17 am
 

2012 Sprint Cup Series driver changes

By Pete Pistone

Fans won't be able to tell the players - or in this case drivers - without a scorecard this coming Sprint Cup Series season. There have been numerous driver changes, swaps and movement since the final checkered flag of 2011 flew at Homestead last November.

You can keep up with all the new faces in new places right here, which will be updated regularly as more changes take place:

No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

In: Kasey Kahne comes over after a one year run at Red Bull Racing to take the reigns of the No. 5 Chevy, which will sport Farmer’s Insurance as its primary sponsor. Kahne signed the deal in 2010 but with nowhere to go in his four-car stable, team owner Rick Hendrick brokered a deal with Red Bull for last season. 

Out: Mark Martin ended his Hendrick tenure at the end of last season with a disappointing performance. Martin has moved on to Michael Waltrip Racing for 2012. 

Our Take: Kahne comes to Hendrick with Kenny Francis and the duo has become one of the best driver-crew chief combos in the Sprint Cup Series. They ended their Red Bull careers on a hot streak and bring that same momentum and confidence to the potent Hendrick organization.


No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

In: Clint Bowyer joins MWR after his successful career at Richard Childress Racing. Sponsor 5-Hour Energy will back the entry for the majority of the season and talented crew chief Brian Pattie comes on board to call the shots after leaving Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. 

Out: Waltrip has added a third entry to his stable to join incumbent Martin Truex Jr. as well as newcomer Mark Martin who takes David Reutimann’s spot with the team. 

Our Take: Bowyer brings MWR’s talent level up considerably and seemed ready for a fresh start after his contract talks at RCR stalled. He was in the enviable position of having a sponsor in hand and chose Waltrip’s operation as the place for the next phase of his Cup career. Getting off to a fast start will be key for the new team’s success.


No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge

In: A.J. Allmendinger slides into the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in a move from Richard Petty Motorsports. The stars aligned for Allmendinger to get a shot at taking over a car that won twice last season and made the Chase and he seems an ideal fit for team owner Roger Penske’s style.

Out: Kurt Busch “mutually parted ways” with Penske after his tumultuous 2011 season and will drive for Phoenix Racing this season.  The infamous incident with ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch at the Homestead season finale was the tipping point for Busch to end his tenure with Penske Racing. 

Our Take: Allmendinger has been able to perform under tense conditions at both Red Bull and RPM when financial issues played a big part in each team’s day to day operation. He now can rest assured that there will be stability at Penske and can concentrate on trying to elevate his game. There is some pressure taking over the wheel of a successful entry like the No. 22 and trying to win with a rookie Sprint Cup crew chief in Todd Gordon.


No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford

In: David Ragan lands with Front Row Motorsports after being squeezed out of Roush Fenway Racing due to sponsorship issues and not getting the call for open seats at Penske Racing or Richard Petty Motorsports. Ragan stays in the Ford camp with the move.

Out: Travis Kvapil is the odd man out at this poont although team officials haven't ruled out the possibility of a third entry at selected races with Kvapil splitting time with J.J. Yeley and Michael McDowell. A former truck series champ, Kvapil joins the list of drivers impacted by sponsorship issues in 2012.

Our Take: Ragan is a Sprint Cup Series race winner with his Daytona victory last July and has the talent to potentially bring this team up a notch or two in the performance department. But make no mistake, Front Row is by no means anywhere close to having the resources of a Roush Fenway Racing and Ragan will have a challenging season ahead trying to be success with a much smaller and less funded race team.


No. 35 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet

In: David Reutimann has landed with the upstart independent team after his release from Michael Waltrip Racing. The popular driver will pair with Dave Blaney in what TBR hopes will be a two-car effort for at least 26 races with sponsorship dictating the complete schedule. 

Out: TBR ran a handful of races with the car last season that saw the likes of Stephen Leicht, Geoffrey Bodine and Steve Park behind the wheel. 

Our Take: TBR was the quintessential David vs. Goliath story last season and scored some much needed exposure with a number of solid runs particularly at Daytona and Talladega. The team will face another uphill battle this season but the addition of Reutimann and his marketability could bring in additional sponsorship dollars that will in turn help the organization became more competitive.

No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

In: Aric Almirola was the somewhat surprising choice to take the wheel of the famed No. 43 entry at RPM. Almirola spent last year driving for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and after running a handful of Cup races for RPM in 2010 was tabbed to fill the seat of the iconic ride for 2012. 

Out: A.J. Allmendinger was granted his release from the team after primary sponsor Best Buy opted to leave for Roush Fenway Racing. Allmendinger then signed on to drive the No. 22 Dodge at Penske Racing. 

Our Take: The good news is RPM remains a two-car effort and that the No. 43 stays on track for 2012. But the team once again faces a rebuilding process taking on a new driver in Almirola to pair with Marcos Ambrose. Allmendinger had made strides to bring the organization up to the next level and seemed to be knocking on the door for his first career Sprint Cup win last season. There will be pressure on Almirola to continue that upward trend.


No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet

In: Kurt Busch takes his much-publicized leap from Penske Racing to James Finch’s operation in hopes of “putting the fun” back into his racing career. The team once again continues its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports ensuring quality cars and potent engines for its 2012 effort. 

Out: Landon Cassill piloted the ride for the bulk of the 2011 season when the 51 entry wound up finishing 30<sup>th</sup> in the final owner point standings. 

Our Take: Right out of the box look for Busch to be a factor at Daytona as Finch’s teams always perform well at restrictor plate tracks. The former series champion’s considerable talents automatically elevates the organization and it won’t hurt having someone of Busch’s stature when hunting down new sponsors. But whether Busch is in for the long haul when tough times inevitably come for the small, one car operation remains to be seen as well as whether he can take the team further up the point standings.


No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

In: Mark Martin signed a two-year deal to drive the former No. 00 Camry with sponsor Aaron’s on board in a 25-race schedule. Team owner Waltrip plans to pilot the entry for five more races at Daytona, Talladega and Kentucky.

Out: David Reutimann was released at the end of last season with Waltrip and sponsor Aaron’s citing a lack of performance as the main reason for the change. 

Our Take: Martin still has the desire to drive and at times showed he could get the job done last year in both his time with Hendrick’s No. 5 Sprint Cup entry as well as some limited starts for Turner Motorsports’ Nationwide program. The 25-race slate should fit perfectly into Martin’s limited schedule desires. Waltrip’s four plate race starts as well as the home date in Kentucky will provide exposure and publicity for the sponsor, the former Daytona 500 winner and spokesperson extraordinaire's specialty.


Dropped teams

No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford

The loss of full-time sponsor UPS forced team owner Jack Roush to shut down his fourth entry for the 2012 season leaving David Ragan on the unmployment line. Despite winning his first career Sprint Cup Series race last July at Daytona, Ragan was forced out of RFR at season's end.

No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Sponsorship issues led to team owner Richard Childress to eliminate this entry from his Sprint Cup stable and to part ways with Clint Bowyer, who left for Michael Waltrip Racing. RCR goes back to three teams for the 2012 season with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard

No. 4 and No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyotas

The departure of Red Bull as both owner and sponsor of this team means two less entries for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series campaign. General Manager Jay Frye was not successful finding new investors to keep the organization's doors open and an official shut down was the aftermath. While Kasey Kahne has landed at Hendrick Motorsports, Brian Vickers does not have a ride lined up for the new season. 


2012 CREW CHIEF TRACKER


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Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:12 am
 

2012 Sprint Cup Series crew chief changes

By Pete Pistone

Teams have been changing crew chiefs at a record pace and the line-up for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season already has a very different look to it.

You can keep up with this regularly-updated chart outlining changes as they are announced:

Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 20 Toyota (Joey Logano)

In: Jason Ratcliff gets the call to take over crew chief duties for Joey Logano who enters the 2012 season on the heels of a disappointing year. Ratcliff has had great success in the JGR Nationwide program and has helped guide both Logano and Kyle Busch to multiple victories. He now gets a shot at the Cup series as management promotes from within rather than go outside the organization.

Out: Greg Zipadelli was granted his release and now rejoins Tony Stewart this time as Director of Competition with Stewart-Haas Racing. Zippy was never able to get Logano to the next level of his career despite enjoying tremendous success while serving as Stewart’s crew chief during their time together at JGR. He still had one year left on his contract but rather than keep spinning its wheels, the team decided to allow Zipadelli to leave and give the 20 team a fresh start.

Our Take: Logano enters next season as a make or break year and it was clear he and Zipadelli weren’t on the same page. A new voice in Ratcliff from atop the war wagon can’t hurt but the duo will have their work cut out trying to rebound from a disastrous effort in 2011.


Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 11 Toyota (Denny Hamlin)

In: Darian Grubb didn’t waste any time in finding employment after he parted ways with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart’s championship-winning No. 14 team. Rather than return to his roots at Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering role that was offered, Grubb will climb back up on the pit box to call the shots for Hamlin. 

Out: Mike Ford went from eight victories and a whisker of the Sprint Cup champion in 2010 to the unemployment line the following season. When the wheels came off Hamlin’s title run in the second to last race of the year in Phoenix, the No. 11 team was never quite the same and suffered through a miserable follow up campaign. 

Our Take: Grubb has the talent and in a very short crew chief career has scored wins with Jimmie Johnson, including a Daytona 500 victory, and taken a Sprint Cup championship with Stewart. Now he faces the challenge of trying to get Hamlin back to the force he was in 2010 while also dealing with the many issues that plagued JGR’s engine program last season. Grubb will be up for the test but will have his work cut out for him.


Stewart-Haas Racing – No. 14 Chevrolet (Tony Stewart)

In: Steve Addington punched his ticket out of Penske Racing days after the season ended to take the opportunity to work with Stewart on the championship-winning team. Addington has had a successful career despite dealing with the talented and emotional Busch brothers – Kyle, when he was at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kurt last season at Penske. Stewart is also known for his emotions but Addington is well-equipped to deal with it after his recent at-times tumultuous experiences with the Busch boys.

Out: Grubb couldn’t save his job even after helping Stewart win five races in the Chase and the title. The decision to go in a different direction was made well before Stewart eventually won the championship in Homestead and despite the success there was no turning back in the parting of ways. 

Our Take: Addington and Stewart have a relationship from both their days at Gibbs as well as their early short track careers. They’ve remained friends over the years and share a similar connection that should clock together as driver-crew chief pretty quickly. The tools and resources are there for Addington to pick right up where Grubb left off.


Penske Racing – No. 22 Dodge (A.J. Allmendinger)

In: Todd Gordon gets the call from Roger Penske to move over from the team’s successful Nationwide Series program, where he led the No. 22 Dodge to six wins a year ago, to the Sprint Cup effort. Like his counterpart at the Penske No. 2 entry Paul Wolfe, Gordon will get a chance to prove himself after working his way up through the organization. 

Out: Addington was admirable in the way he dealt with the turmoil around the team last year and Busch’s well-publicized emotional outbursts. Despite the controversy, Addington and Busch did win two races and make the Chase proving at times to be a formidable pairing.

Our Take: Gordon is a bright talent and will work well knowing the ins and outs of the “Penske Way.” Now that Allmendinger has been named driver the two can begin working on chemistry and their relationship. Both are young and will more than likely benefit from a fresh start and perspective. The duo take over a ride that won twice last year and made the Chase so expectations will be high and a good start to the season will go a long way in helping build confidence with the entire team.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 29 Chevrolet (Kevin Harvick)

In: Shane Wilson comes back to work with Harvick as the duo team up again in their careers. The two won the Nationwide Series together in 2006. Wilson most recently was Clint Bowyer’s crew chief at RCR and after moving into another role inside the team now gets another shot to work in NASCAR’s top division this time with Harvick. 

Out: Gil Martin was able to get Harvick to victory lane multiple times in the last two seasons and made the Chase, nearly winning all the marbles in 2010. But things soured internally with the team last season and Harvick voiced his concerns to team owner Childress who decided to pull the plug on Martin, who will stay with the organization but move into a management role for the time being. 

Our Take: Harvick can be prickly to work with and Martin may have found out the hard way. Wilson has the advantage of previously working with Harvick and tasting success in the Nationwide title run. Pit road miscues doomed the No. 29 team many times last year and that will need to be eradicated by Wilson in a hurry if Harvick is to return to championship contention.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 31 Chevrolet (Jeff Burton)

In: Drew Blickensderfer comes to RCR from Roush Fenway Racing, where he had spent his entire NASCAR career. Blickensderfer was a valuable commodity to Roush in both its Nationwide and Sprint Cup programs, most recently working as crew chief for Matt Kenseth and then David Ragan.

Out: Luke Lambert was the interim crew chief for Burton after Todd Berrier was released around mid-season. Lambert and Burton did begin to make significant progress down the stretch of the schedule with several top ten runs to their credit and a near victory at Talladega in October.

Our Take: Blickensderfer is a hot commodity and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the job. He clicked very well with the relatively young Ragan at RFR, a partnership that resulted in a July Daytona win, but now teams up with the seasoned veteran presence of Burton. It’s an intriguing pair that might be one of the surprises in the coming campaign.

 

Michael Waltrip Racing – No. 15 Toyota (Clint Bowyer)

In: Brian Pattie got shuffled out of the crew chief role for Juan Pablo Montoya about mid-season in favor of Jim Pohlman. Pattie remained inside Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the balance of the year but jumped at an opportunity to crew chief once again when Waltrip’s team expanded to three cars and brought Bowyer into the fold. 

Out: Pattie steps in to fill the crew chief position for the brand new No. 15 entry. 

Our Take: When Pattie methodically guided Montoya into the 2009 Chase with a carefully calculated regular season game plan he turned a lot of heads in the garage and many applauded his talent. Things didn’t go too well in the two follow-up efforts but Pattie is still regarded as a forward-thinking crew chief who has a chance to make an even bigger name for himself if he can get Bowyer into the Chase in year one.
 

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing – No. 42 Chevrolet (Juan Pablo Montoya)

In: Chris Heroy brings his engineering background to the crew chief position replacing the Brian Pattie/Jim Pohlman combo that split duties for the team last year. 

Out: Team owner Chip Ganassi made it pretty clear he wasn’t going to go into 2012 with the same lineup that was so disappointing last season so moving Pohlman out of the spot didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Our Take: Heroy is an unknown commodity and steps into a difficult job of trying to right the ship. The entire EGR team including Montoya’s teammate Jamie McMurray endured a miserable season it will take a huge effort all the way around to get back to being competitive on a regular basis.

2012 DRIVER TRACKER

 
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Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:12 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 7:51 pm
 

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

By Pete Pistone


Image Detail
(Waltrip and Bowyer hope to team up and put together a successful Sprint Cup Series season in 2012)



Review 

The 2011 season didn’t go exactly as planned for Michael Waltrip Racing. 

After showing improved performance the previous year, MWR came into the new campaign with high hopes for both drivers Martin Truex Jr. and David Reutimann

But by the time the final checkered flag of the year flew the duo ended up winless and Truex Jr. had himself a new crew chief while Reutimann was out of a ride. 

Truex ended the year eighteenth in the final standings with three top five finishes and a pole as highlights along the way. 

But it was a rough year for the New Jersey native who endured a vicious wreck in the spring Martinsville race. 

Truex hit the third turn wall at full speed in his April wreck at the Virginia half-mile track and completely destroyed his NAPA Toyota. He was shaken but fortunately otherwise uninjured in the accident. 

"Everything was fine and I went to let off [the brakes] to go into [turn] three and it stuck to the floor," Truex said. "At that point, there's nothing you can do. It happens so fast, there's no way you can hit the kill switch or shut the thing off. Just lock up the brakes and you are just a passenger at that point." 





Although we walked away from the incident things didn’t go very well for Truex from that point on. The frustration with poor finishes and performances finally boiled over to the point of crew chief Pat Tryson being replaced by Chad Johnston in early June. 

The veteran Tryson wasn’t sure why the change was made when news came of his release from the position. 

"Somebody always has to be that guy," he said. "I wouldn't say I was part of the problem. As a company we aren't running well. It's a strange deal. I really can't say much." 

Improvement came gradually for the 56 team as the season wore on and Truex was pleased with the progress while still disappointed with his overall season. 

“I think our team has done a nice job all year as far as bringing fast race cars to the race track,” Truex said. “There have been some other things that we’ve missed on, parts failures and making mistakes and things that really hurt us in the points. But we’ve had fast cars all year long.

“For us ... it’s been a lot of what could’ve been or what might have been.”

Reutimann’s year was worse than his teammate's and ended up in the popular driver’s release. He struggled from nearly the opening green flag of the season and after winning a race in 2010 could muster only one top five finish this season.

The disastrous campaign came to a head when Reutimann was informed he would not return to the No. 00 ride next season and was dismissed from the team.

"I had no indication," said Reutimann, when informed of his fate. "They never told me my job was on the line or in jeopardy.

“It’s been an awful season for us, for sure. We haven’t run up to our expectations or our standards. But I thought I’d have a chance to make up for it. … It’s a bit of a shock. I wasn’t expecting it.”


Preview

The team has undergone a huge overhaul heading into 2012 with two new drivers as well as a change in management.

Scott Miller comes to MWR after a long career at Richard Childress Racing and slides into the Director of Competition role of the now three-car team.

“This is the highest ranking role in our competition department and we needed a person with great knowledge of our sport, experience in managing highly competitive personnel, and a vast technical background,” said team co-owner Michael Waltrip. “Scott is exactly all of those things. This is such an important hire for our organization.”

Miller’s job will be to bring Truex Jr. as well as newcomers Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin to the next level and turn MWR into an organization capable of winning races as well as competing for Chase berths.

Bowyer follows Miller from RCR and with 5-Hour Energy as the main sponsor behind the effort of the new No. 15 Toyota believes he can be an impact player in the 2012 championship hunt.

“This is a great opportunity and you can see the foundation for big things in place here,” said Bowyer. “To say I’m excited about what lies ahead is a very true statement.”

Bowyer will be teamed up with veteran crew chief Brian Pattie, who helped guide Juan Pablo Montoya into the Chase for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2009.

“I’ve known Brian Pattie for a long time and the thing that impresses me the most is how he calls a race and his knowledge of race cars,” Bowyer said. “We both grew up working on dirt cars and have pretty similar backgrounds. We understand each other and I think we speak the same language. I know once we get together and start working we’re going to see great results.”

Joining Truex and Bowyer for a limited schedule will be Mark Martin, who takes the wheel of Reutimann’s old ride with the Camry now sporting the No. 55. Martin’s tenure at Hendrick Motorsports came to an end this past season and he was seeking an opportunity to remain at the Cup level but on a scaled down schedule.

“I’m really excited about having an opportunity to be a part of something that I can sort of transition to, whether it’s with this organization or another organization when we get around to 2014,” Martin said of his 25-race schedule in the car. “I love this sport. I don’t want to go away. I want to be involved in this sport for a long, long time.”

Waltrip will run five additional races in the No. 55, the four restrictor plate events at Daytona and Talladega as well as the summer stop at Kentucky Speedway.
 

Outlook

Things couldn’t have been much more disappointing for MWR in 2011 so a fresh start and shake-up was just what the team needed. The addition of Miller to run the day-to-day operations of the organization is a huge move that should bring stability to a team dearly in need of it. Truex is still the anchor and will need to carry the momentum of his final 2011 outings into the new year. Bowyer and Pattie should make a formidable pair but the chemistry of a brand new team usually takes some time to develop. Martin can still wheel a race car and his veteran presence will be a major benefit to have around. More speed and reliability from Toyota’s engine program is a necessity. Overall things look much better for MWR going forward but the team needs to find some cohesiveness quickly in order to compete with the top echelon of the series.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Brian Pattie officially named Bowyer's crew chief

By Pete Pistone

Brian Pattie was officially introduced as Clint Bowyer's new crew chief on Monday.

The move was expected for the last few weeks as the former Earnhardt Ganassi Racing crew chief takes the same role with Bowyer at Michael Waltrip Racing.

“Brian is someone whose been on our radar for a very long time,” said team owner Michael Waltrip. “He brings a strong technical background, along with great leadership and Chase experience. We have high hopes for Brian, Clint and the 5-hour ENERGY team heading into 2012 and we think this is the perfect mix of talent, experience and leadership.”

Pattie joins the team after 18 victories in a long Nationwide Series career with a variety of drivers and a Sprint Cup stint at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya.

“Michael Waltrip Racing is an up-and-coming team making improvements every day,” said Pattie, a Zephyrhills Fla. native who began his duties at MWR on Dec. 1.

“I know how close it is to joining the upper echelon of the Sprint Cup Series. When I started talking with Michael about opportunities at MWR I really did my research and was impressed by their commitment to getting to the top of the sport. I feel like this is a great opportunity to join a new team with a new driver and start building something special. Clint’s proven how good he is and I know that will get even better in 2012.”

Bowyer begins his first full season with MWR in 2012 coming from Richard Childress Racing. He joins holdover Martin Truex Jr. and fellow newcomer Mark Martin, who will pilot the team's No. 00 Toyota in a 25-race schedule.

“I’ve known Brian Pattie for a long time and the thing that impresses me the most is how he calls a race and his knowledge of racecars,” said Bowyer. “We both grew up working on dirt cars and have pretty similar backgrounds. We understand each other and I think we speak the same language. I know once we get together and start working we’re going to see great results.”

 

 
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