MWR Boss: 'We Have to Win Soon'
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on June 22, 2013 | 11:56 A.M. EST
Clint Bowyer's win at Sonoma was the first of three victories for him last season. (Photo Getty Images)
SONOMA, Calif. _ It’s rather simple Michael Waltrip says.
“We have to win soon,’’ he said about this three-car organization that is winless since October. “Our business model isn’t successful without winning.’’
His team was in this position a year ago when it came to Sonoma Raceway. Clint Bowyer conquered the twists and turns of the 1.99-mile road course, catapulting him to a three-win season and runner-up finish in the points.
Waltrip hopes one of his teams can provide the same spark and cap what has been a challenging stretch for his organization.
Martin Truex Jr. was strong at Dover earlier this month before his engine blew, one of three Toyota Racing Development engines to fail in a two-race stretch. TRD officials responded by detuning their engines for Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing to make sure they would last. Even though Bowyer finished sixth at Dover, the situation wasn’t good for MWR.
“The challenge after Dover with the engine problem couldn’t have lined up any worse for us,’’ Waltrip said. “We had to go to Pocono, which is where you need the most power. So we struggled at Pocono. We thought if we can just stabilize at Michigan then look at the races we have coming up.’’
It didn’t look good early. Bowyer’s car suffered damage in a first-lap incident. Instead of a sign of trouble, it showed the team’s resilience. Bowyer finished seventh and Truex placed third.
“Hopefully, we’ll look back and say Michigan geared us up and got us ready to win,’’ Waltrip said.
Waltrip sees opportunities for his organization in the coming weeks with Bowyer the defending winner at Sonoma, Truex scoring a top-10 finish at Kentucky last year, the unpredictability of Daytona and a hopes for New Hampshire after a positive run for Bowyer during a Goodyear tire test.
Bowyer says a win any of these weeks could again change the direction of the organization’s season.
“You win a race, the confidence boost it gives you and your team and your organization, (Tony) Stewart is a prime example,’‘ Bowyer said. “He wins, now he's running the top-five ever since. He's one to beat. He'll be the one to beat here.
“It's hard to explain momentum, the roll that you get on and probably all of sports, but this sport in particular. It seems like Jimmie Johnson has always been able to stay on that roll, though."
It’s just a wonder that Waltrip’s organization has gone so long without a victory. Six other organizations, including underfunded Front Row Motorsports has won since a Waltrip car last did so.
“We knew when we started the ’12 season we were going to win,’’ Waltrip said. “The numbers were there on the cars, the aero numbers. Everything lined up. We added Mark Martin. We added Clint Bowyer. We knew we would win.
“When we started ‘13 ,the only difference in our organization was this new car. I think that if you look at the results it would be hard to argue that Hendrick and Gibbs haven’t just done a better job of making their cars faster than we we were able to. It’s an arms race. It’s all about getting faster and faster.
“Any time there is a rule change the more resources you have, the quicker you can react to that. We are now in the middle of our next generation of our Generation 6 car, seeing where we can make it better. We’ve raced long enough now to where we believe we can build a new chassis, we can build a new car.’’
Now, it’s time for Michael Waltrip Racing to win.