CORNELIUS, N.C. – Ty Norris, Michael Waltrip Racing’s executive vice-president of business development and general manager, has seen the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization transform from one that struggled to make races in 2007 to championship contention in 2012. Although mathematically eliminated from the title hunt, Norris notes MWR has a lot to race for in Sunday’s season finale in Homestead.
RACING FOR SOMETHING AT HOMESTEAD: “Homestead is important for several reasons, most importantly because we want to win every time they drop the green flag. The No. 15 team is not currently in the 2013 Budweiser Shootout so we have one more opportunity to win a pole and become eligible for that important race. Third in points would be amazing and the highest ever for Clint and by far for MWR, so we want to make that happen. Ultimately the final race launches you into the winter. Last year, Martin Truex Jr. qualified on the outside pole and finished third at Homestead. That confidence boost carried all the way through the winter and I believe launched him into a Chase year, so the final race of the year is very important for psychological reasons.”
THE 2012 SEASON: “We are all proud of the entire organization, especially the run for the championship from the No. 15 team. This group came together very late last year and overcame a lot of early season adversity. Once all of the key players learned how to work with each other, this team has been in great form. What has been most impressive is the depth across the organization with speed every week, at all different tracks with all three teams and five different drivers. That broad consistency is what gives us the confidence we will be able to continue this trend into the 2013 season and beyond.”
TOP PRIORITIES FOR 2013: “On the business side, one of the top priorities for 2013 is to get the No. 15 fully funded. 5-hour ENERGY is committed to a large portion of the season and Peak Motor Oil will be on board for at least three. But we have about 10 open races, and to continue our positive trend, it will require more investment. This team has proven it can win, compete for a title and has the most personable driver in the garage behind the wheel. On the competition side, competing against the very best every week has exposed some weak spots, and to beat the guys at the very top, we need to improve in a couple of areas. That will be our off season priority.”
2012 BOWYER vs. CAREER BOWYER: Bowyer has three wins (Sonoma, fall Richmond and fall Charlotte), nine top-five and 22 top-10 finishes and is fourth through 34 races of 2012. In his six previous seasons, Bowyer’s best ranking through 35 races was third in 2007, most top-five finishes was seven in 2010 and most top-10s was 18 in 2010. See side bar for additional comparison.
CHASSIS NOTES: Primary chassis No. 738 led five laps finished sixth at Kansas and also raced at Atlanta. Chassis No. 716 is the backup. No. 716 raced earlier this season in Las Vegas, Kansas, Charlotte, Kentucky and Indianapolis.
IN THE CHASE: Bowyer has one win, three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in nine Chase races. He has an average finish of 10.2 and has averaged a 6.8 qualifying effort. He has collected three bonus points for his win at Charlotte and six bonus points for leading laps in six of the nine races to collect a total of nine bonus points.
LOOPING THE CHASE: Bowyer has raced in the top-15 for 93.9 percent of laps run in the Chase (most of any driver), has a series best average running position (7.562) and average starting position among chasers (6.8). His seven top-10s is tied for second in the last nine races. He ranks fourth in average finish (10.2), percent of laps led (7.0) and driver rating (105.4).