Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 11/19/14
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CORNELIUS, N.C. — When the checkered flag fell at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. earned the team’s first berths in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, the smile on Mark Martin’s face was a large as anyone’s.

The No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine driver won’t be one of the 12 Chase drivers, but his work in 2012 at MWR was just as important as any driver’s who’ll compete for the title. The teamwork and communication among MWR’s three fulltime teams and the organization’s drivers played a key role in two Chase berths.

MWR should continue its success this weekend at Richmond where Martin earned the pole in the April race. He’s earned four poles in 2012—the most of any driver– and posted six top-10 finishes in just 16 races.

MARTIN ON HIS MWR ROLE: “My commitment to Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer is that I will do anything in my power to help them make the Chase and win races. They know that. I am not in this for selfish reasons, but to be a team player.”

COMMUNICATION: “Martin and I were teammates at DEI in 2008. Unfortunately when we were teammates over there we didn’t work together. We worked like separate teams. That’s how it had been setup. We had teamwork, but not like the teamwork we have at MWR now. I have always admired his talent, dedication and especially the way he has handled himself. Since I have been over here he and Clint have been the best. They are really engaged and very interested in what we are doing and what we think. They have been wide open to sharing everything.”

WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE THE CHASE: “It’s so hard to make the Chase now. Unless you are on an incredible hot streak it requires an organization to pull together, not an individual, group or team. It has to be organization-wide.”

MWR CHANCES BEFORE THE SEASON — “It wasn’t unrealistic to think we would run well. I think we have performed at or above our hopes. We are all realistic and know how tough this sport is. I expected Martin to make the Chase and really expected him to win a race. It was pleasant to see Clint get a win already and Martin could have won on numerous occasions but the stars haven’t lined up. To see Clint get a race, to see his team gel like it has and the No. 55 team gel like it has, has been outstanding. Everyone understands we’ve been outstanding for not being a Roush or Hendrick. We are all committed to maintaining that level and even improving on it.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP— “It’s an amazing survival story. I know it was tough, tough, tough. We are all real proud of the organization. The thing I like about MWR is the people here. They really want to be working here. They don’t want to be somewhere else. They want to be here. There are a lot of happy people here and that makes it a pleasure to be part of.”

CHASSIS NOTES: 714 – won pole at Phoenix and Richmond with Martin behind the wheel. Backup – 708 – has not raced in 2012.

RICHMOND: In 53 Sprint Cup starts at Richmond, Martin owns a victory (fall 1990) and five poles. He’s led 449 laps. Martin won the pole at his first Richmond race in 1981.

WINS: Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup, 49 Nationwide and seven Camping World Truck Series victories. He’s led 12,717 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Martin has started 846 Sprint Cup races, 236 Nationwide starts and 25 truck events.

2012: Martin owns four poles, two top-five and six top-10 finishes in just 16 races in 2012. He won his fourth pole of the 2012 season and 55th of his career at Michigan on Aug. 17. He is tied with Bill Elliott for seventh in all-time poles. Martin also owns 30 Nationwide and three Camping World Truck Series poles.

NEARLY THE BEST: Only Greg Biffle (8.4) has a better average qualifying position than Martin (8.6). Only 14 drivers have led more laps than Martin despite Martin racing in only 16 events in 2012

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