By admin | April 19, 2012
By Richard Allen
Count this writer as one who has been more than a little surprised by the success experienced so far in 2012 by Michael Waltrip Racing. After all, this particular team has certainly never placed itself in the same conversations as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing in terms of race wins and championship contention.
As a matter of fact, this team has been more commonly known for having an owner who makes multiple television commercials each year which use humor rather than lists of accomplishments as the primary means of selling products for sponsors.
However, that is very much in the process of changing this season as MWR seems to be establishing itself as one of the more competitive operations in NASCAR. Granted, the TV ads are still being shown but the team’s weekly performance is at least making the possibility of using a list of accomplishments a viable option.
Last season, this organization accounted for only four top-5 and sixteen top-10 finishes over the course of the entire season with drivers Martin Truex, Jr. and David Reutimann running a full schedule of events and team owner Michael Waltrip competing three times. Those cars led only 162 laps in thirty-six races.
Those numbers are looking much more impressive in 2012. Truex has been joined by Clint Bowyer as a fulltime driver for MWR while Mark Martin and Brian Vickers have shared another car throughout the season.
Already this year, MWR has amassed a total of five top-5s and twelve top-10s. And while none of their teams has won, Bowyer was in a three-wide position for the lead in Martinsville with less than two laps remaining.
MWR cars have led 238 laps in 2012.
Both Truex(4th) and Bowyer(10th) hold coveted top-10 positions in the current Sprint Cup standings. The #55 car shared by Martin and Vickers ranks as 7th best in the owners point standings.
While after only seven races it’s far too early to equate Michael Waltrip Racing with those teams mentioned above in terms of championship contention, they have most definitely been a major surprise so far in 2012. It remains to be seen whether or not that will continue but as of now there are number of teams who would like to exchange places with them.
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