CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 15 5-hour ENEGY Toyota crew chief Brian Pattie says his team’s work in the upcoming races will pay dividends in the fall during NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. His Michael Waltrip Racing team is third in points with 12 races remaining before the start of the Chase. He and driver Clint Bowyer plan to win this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, but improving their car’s speed and handling will also be important. Nobody has scored more points in the last two seasons at MIS than Bowyer who seeks his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at the 2-mile oval.
PATTIE ON MICHIGAN: “Clint has run well at Michigan the last couple years and I hope that trend continues. We had solid runs there last season, but nothing spectacular – we didn’t lead a lot of laps, but finished in the single digits in both races. Our cars were really good last year. This year I don’t think we are exactly where we need to be right now with the Gen 6 car, so if we came out of there with the same results as last year I would be tickled pink. At this point in the season we are trying to work on our cars and make them faster. Michigan is a lot like Pocono in that it was repaved last year and we are still trying to learn as much as we can. If we aren’t good enough, then we need to work to minimize mistakes, execute and make our points gap on 11th a little bigger. We really need to try to get faster and if that means changing some stuff then that’s what we are going to do here in the summer months. We are changing things on these cars weekly right now trying to make them better. We’re trying to learn all we can so we are ready for a late summer or early fall run. But, in the end you still have to pay attention to detail and we still have to make it to that point. The biggest thing is putting a gap between us and 11th.
ON FUEL MILEAGE: “I love fuel mileage racing, so I hope this race turns into one. (Laughs). It is what it is. We go through practice and try to get the car the best we can and try to figure out the strategy during the race. If it works out – it works out. If it turns out like that I’d be good with it. My favorite part of the fuel mileage races is out smarting the other guys. It is something that you have to work with your driver on. It’s some strategy and some technique – and those two things have to work together to make it happen.”
WOULD YOU GAMBLE TO WIN A FUEL MILEAGE RACE?: “Probably not. I’m not a risk taker. I’m not a huge risk taker. At Sonoma last year that wasn’t a risk – we had a fast car and it worked out. If Richmond and Charlotte would have been in the spring last year instead of the fall I would not have done the same thing – it just wasn’t time. So right now I don’t think we need to take that risk.”
BOWYER AT MICHIGAN: In 14 races Bowyer owns six top-10s. His average start is 18th and finish 17th. He has led 27 laps, including 19 in his last race at MIS. In the last four MIS starts, Bowyer is tied with fellow Toyota driver Matt Kenseth for the most points with 148. He also has the best average finish of any driver (7.5) and is the only driver with four consecutive top-10s.
CHASSIS: Primary Chassis No. 758 finished fifth at Kansas and 35th at Fontana (due to a mechanical issue). Backup Chassis No. 724 has not seen action this season.
2013 vs. 2012: Bowyer is ranked six spots higher (2013 – third; 2012 – ninth), has nine more points (2013 – 452 points; 2012 – 443 points), two more top-five finishes (2013 – four; 2012 – two), the same number of top-10 (2013 – seven; 2012 – seven), he has led 109 more laps (2013 – 114 laps; 2012 – five laps). He has a better average starting position (2013 – 12.4; 2012 – 13.0) and better finishing position (2013 – 11.9, 2012 – 12.5).
LOCAL CONNECTION: 5-hour ENERGY’S corporate offices are in Farmington Hills, Mich. about 65 miles from Michigan International Speedway.
-Michael Waltrip Racing PR