CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry crew chief Brian Pattie likes sitting second in points with just eight races until the start of NASCAR’s “Chase for the Sprint Cup.” Next on the agenda for the Michael Waltrip Racing team is making some trips to victory lane which could come this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where his driver Clint Bowyer owns two victories.
The 5-hour ENERGY team owns a 116 point advantage over 11th place after posting three consecutive top-five, four top-10s and eight top-15 finishes. Bowyer hasn’t finished outside the top-20 since Fontana. As for race strategy in the pre-Chase races, Pattie said he’ll manage risk-to-reward balancing points for finishing and bonus points for winning.
ON SEASON TO DATE: “I think we are in a great positions and if you would have told me coming into the year that we’d be where we are now I would have taken that. I thought our cars were off the first 10-12 races of the year. Would I take not winning yet – probably not. We had a great shot at winning Martinsville, but in the middle of the race we got into a little wreck that probably cost us a victory there. We could have won Richmond. There’s races we could have won and we didn’t. You can’t take anything away from Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, because those guys execute and they perform flawlessly. That said, we are still in the middle of them in points so we must be doing something correctly. Definitely bringing home trophies to Michael (Waltrip) and Rob (Kauffman) is something that we want to do. This is only our second year together working as a team and early in the year is not typically when we are at our best, but come Charlotte we start to come on and picking up steam. If you look at the last two seasons they almost mirror each other. I’m hoping for the same result. We’ve gave some races away, but we have some good ones coming up – including this week in New Hampshire.”
GOING FOR WINS: “I’m a calculator in terms of managing risk versus reward. Yes, second in points puts us in a position where we could take a shot and more importantly being 116 points in front of 11th place helps a lot. We’ll see. We are not locked in. You look at what the No. 5 car did from Dover over a stretch of a couple weeks and he lost almost 70 points in about three weeks, so I definitely want to watch that something like that doesn’t happen. Come mid-August around Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond I think we have as good of a shot as anyone to win. If we keep on the pace that we’re on now and we can lock in around Bristol that would be super exciting for us – then we can go for some wins. I think it’s all risk versus reward. It’s easy to sit back and second guess, but you have to make the Chase in this series and we have to do what we can to do that first.”
Let’s Go Streaking! Bowyer has three consecutive top-five, four top-10, eight top-15 and hasn’t finished outside the top-20 since Fontana – a streak of 13 races. The next longest top-20 streak by any other driver is eight by Kevin Harvick. Bowyer also has back-to-back top-five finishes at New Hampshire in his last two trips to the Magic Mile.
2013 vs. 2012: Bowyer is ranked eight spots higher (2013 – second; 2012 – 10th), has 37 more points (2013 – 609 points; 2012 – 572 points), four more top-five finishes (2013 – seven; 2012 – three), two more top-10 (2013 – 11; 2012 – nine), he has led 37 more laps (2013 – 114 laps; 2012 – 77 laps).
Chassis: Primary Chassis No. 761 raced to a runner-up finish at Martinsville in April. The No. 15 team also used the chassis for their May 14-15 Goodyear Tire Test at Loudon.
Thunder Road: Bowyer will race in the 2013 Vermont Lottery Commission Governor’s Cup 150-lap late model race Thursday night, July 11 at Barre’s Thunder Road in Waterbury, Vt.
Off Weekend Plans: Bowyer will host his annual charity golf outing in his hometown of Emporia, Kan. on Saturday, July 20. The sold out event includes golf, dinner, auction and live entertainment. Proceeds from the event benefit Bowyer’s 79 Fund through the Emporia Community Fund. To date Bowyer’s 79 Fund has contributed more than $1.5 million to his hometown through various efforts.
-Michael Waltrip Racing PR