Banner Day in Bristol for MWR

Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr.

Brian Vickers finished fifth and Martin Truex Jr. finished third at Bristol on Sunday. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Michael Waltrip Racing enjoyed a stellar Food City 500 Sunday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway with all three of its drivers finishing inside the top five.

Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers followed race winner Brad Keselowski across the finish line in what team co-owner Michael Waltrip called a landmark day for his organization.

“So proud of this effort for our organization,” said Waltrip. “We have made so many changes and put in so much hard work in the off-season to get things headed in the right direction and today was so rewarding to see some of that pay off.”

Truex Jr. started 15th but finished third in the NAPA Toyota, following up his solid run at Bristol last August. He credited his entire team and crew chief Chad Johnston with working together to come home with the stellar performance.

“Proud of Chad -- his call at the end,” Truex Jr. said. “He called to stay out and stuck to his guns and never second-guessed himself. He’s really coming into his own as a crew chief.

“I’m proud of him and the team and proud of everyone at MWR for what they’ve given us. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for all their help. We’ve come a long way in the last 10 or 15 races -- we’ve had a really consistent, really good race team. We’ve got a lot of confidence.”

Truex Jr.’s day also included dodging the race’s early big wreck but once he cleared that hurdle he was able to overcome any other challenges that came the team’s way.

“For us, it was a good day,” he said. “We were up and down. We were off on the middle part of the race, but we kept digging and worked hard on it. We got back up to fifth, sixth, seventh right there before that last caution and stayed out. That was the call of the race. Really good race team. We’ve got a lot of confidence. For us, it was a good day. We were up and down. We were off on the middle part of the race, but we kept digging and worked hard on it. We got back up to fifth, sixth, seventh right there before that last caution and stayed out. That was the call of the race.”

Bowyer started 16th and got into the top five in the 5-Hour Energy Toyota. A late race two tire stop helped get him track position that Bowyer was able to turn into a fourth-place finish.

"These MWR cars have been good ever since Truex was running good at the end of last year,” Bowyer said. “Just real proud of everybody….. Tough call at the end there to come in and pit, but still the right call. We did the right thing there and it got us a top-five. Heck of a day for MWR."

Vickers made a triumphant return to the Sprint Cup Series with his fifth-place finish. In the first of six starts in MWR’s No. 55 Aaron’s entry, Vickers led 125 laps – equaling his total in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons – on his way to the finishing inside the first five.

This was pretty good and it felt really good when we were out there leading,” said Vickers, who returns to the car April 1st at Martinsville. “It would have been awesome to hold onto that, but it’s the first time back so I can’t complain about that.

“What an organization. So proud to be a part of getting all three cars in the top-five. Can’t thank Michael Waltrip and Rob Kaufmann (team owner) and everyone at MWR -- I don’t know those two guys that well, but I can tell a lot about them by the group of people they’ve built and the team they’ve built. What an incredible organization.”

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