CORNELIUS, N.C. – Scott Miller, Michael Waltrip Racing’s executive vice-president of competition, celebrated his anniversary with MWR at Texas. In his first year he helped guide MWR to two Chase berths, three wins, five poles and the best year statistically in the company’s six-year Sprint Cup history. But, with Bowyer third in the point standings trailing by 36 points and Martin Truex Jr. trailing by 80 points with two races remaining—Miller knows there is still work to do.
CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE: “We just have to do what we can do. We certainly don’t want to wish bad luck on anybody, but for us to be able to close the gap in this deal it’s going to take some good performances by us and some bad luck from both of the other two guys in front of us. That isn’t highly likely, but we’ll do our part to keep trying to be competitive. Even if we aren’t able to close the deal and get the big one at the end it’d be nice to win one of these last two. We’ll be shooting for that. Everybody’s spirits are still high around here, so we’ll keep on showing up and trying to do our best.”
ON THE No. 48 AND No. 2: “It’s so impressive what they’ve done. Kudos to the No. 2 guys for keeping the No. 48 bunch honest. The 48 has been there time and time and time again, so they have the experience. They know what to expect. I’d say for most of those guys on the 2 – this is their first go-around trying to challenge for the big prize. They have held up extremely well under the pressure. The No. 15 guys have been close, but a little bit off in the points, so they can throw caution to the wind. They’ve been probably a little bit more loosy-goosy about the whole deal then the other two have been able to be simply because we aren’t just two or three points away from one another. Something has to happen – we have to perform, but I guarantee that they aren’t feeling the pressure like those other two are. Like I said, the 2 team has held up very well. The 48 team obviously we have come to expect that out of that driver, crew chief, crew and whole organization. I think they’ve shown us all that they can do it. (Laugh).”
MWR ANNIVERSARY: “Texas was my one year anniversary at MWR. I walked in to a very good situation. Lots of good people here at MWR and there were a lot of good programs that were started and we were able to carry those through the winter. We came out swinging for real at the start of 2012. I’ve been very proud of everyone for staying motivated and working hard. We are kind of the little team that could or the Bad News Bears and everybody has to make some sacrifices to get it. I’m just really proud of everybody here at MWR for putting in the work that it takes to make the improvements that we’ve made.”
“I just try to create an environment that makes people want to come here, dig in and work together. These organizations are big and you have to have everybody on the same page and working together. I try to create that environment and make where the people that work at MWR work together and still think it’s pretty cool to come to work.”
EXPECTATIONS FOR 2013: “We won’t sneak up on anybody next year – and that’s a good spot to be in. Hopefully we can hold up our end of the bargain and come back next year as strong as ever, compete for wins and a championship. That’s what we strive to do every day.”
ON OFF-SEASON PREPARATION: “There certainly are things that we have to keep working on. If we are going to continue to run with the likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Penske, Roush, RCR and JGR and all the other players at the pointy end of this deal then you can never sit still. None of them are sitting still and the moment you start to sit still you start to fall behind. We still have to improve our product and our processes. The thing about it is when you do strengthen certain things in your product or process it makes the things that remain needing improvement kind of jump out at you even more. We have a few things to work on – everybody does. We are just going to keep our heads down and keep improving over the winter.”
POINT STANDINGS: Bowyer is third in the point standings with 2303 points. Bowyer trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 36 points. Prior to 2012, the best season any driver in the history of MWR has finished in a season is 16th in the final point standings (David Reutimann, 2009).
CHASSIS NOTES: Primary chassis No. 718 is the race winning car from Sept. 8 event at Richmond and also finished fourth in the Chase opener at Loudon. Backup chassis No. 712 finished 30th at the first Phoenix race after cutting several tires early in the race. It also raced to a seventh place finish at Richmond in the spring.
IN THE CHASE: Bowyer has one win, three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in eight Chase races. He has an average finish of 8.0 and has averaged a 5.6 qualifying effort. He has collected three bonus points for his win at Charlotte and six bonus points for leading laps in six of the eight 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 the best average starting position (5.6) and is tied for the most top-10s (seven). He ranks second in average running position (7.369) and driver rating (107.6). He ranks third in average finish (8.0).
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 third through 34 races of 2012. In his six previous seasons, Bowyer’s best ranking through 34 races was third in 2007, most top-five finishes was seven in 2010 and most top-10s was 17 in 2007. See side bar for additional comparison.
WINNING: At Sonoma, Bowyer scored his sixth career Cup Series win and his first on a road course. In Richmond Bowyer scored his seventh career Cup Series win and his second at Richmond. At Charlotte, Bowyer scored his eighth career Cup Series win and his first on a 1.5-mile track.
LEADING: Bowyer has led in 13 of 34 races for 388 laps in 2012. He led season-high 154 Laps in Martinsville, 88 laps in his Richmond win, 71 laps in Sonoma and 29 at Charlotte. Bowyer has led laps in six of the eight Chase races and seven of the last nine races.
MWR IN 2012: MWR’s five Cup Series drivers have scored a combined record of three wins (Bowyer at Sonoma, Richmond and Charlotte), 23 top-five and 55 top-10 finishes through the 34 races of the season. Four drivers have recorded three or more top-five finishes – Bowyer has nine, Truex Jr. has seven, Martin has four and Vickers has three. All five drivers, including Waltrip, have recorded a top-10. See side bar for additional comparison.
1100 LAPS AND COUNTING: MWR’s Toyotas have led 1187 laps in the 34 Sprint Cup Series races of 2012. Truex Jr. leads the MWR charge with 423 laps led, Bowyer 388, Martin with 195, Vickers 158, and Waltrip with 21.