It has been a year since a Michael Waltrip Racing car has won a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Of course, there was the entire “spingate” ordeal, which dismissed NAPA from one of the top Toyota teams in the sport. Howver, MWR has rebounded with two full-time cars this year, and a partnership with Identity Ventures Racing in a third vehicle.
Since Brian Vickers won at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway at this time last season, the organization hasn’t scored a victory. It is not due to a lack of effort, however, as MWR drivers, Clint Bowyer and Vickers, sit 12th and 16th in the standings, respectively. With the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format in play, it is go time for MWR, and they have started to do just that.
Vickers is coming off of a runner-up finish at Daytona after a stretch of horrific luck spanning from Pocono through Kentucky. Bowyer has been the opposite. Starting out the year rather slowly, the Kansas-native has four top-10s over the past six races – moving up from 17th in points since then.
Even with luck on their side, is MWR going to be contending for race wins? What about the Sprint Cup Series title?
Well, even while their drivers have combined to lead 74 laps this season, they haven’t been in play late in events. The team has had trouble adjusting to the new rules package – similar to Roush Fenway Racing, but not as severe.
If there is any track that MWR needs to return to, it is certainly New Hampshire. The organization will be fielding Jeff Burton in that third car this weekend. Burton, 47, is making his second start in the Cup Series this year, and it could be his last pending on sponsorship. Brett Moffitt made his first pair of Sprint Cup Series starts in the No. 66 Toyota this year, and impressed the MWR folks enough to sign a deal for next season. It appears Moffitt will run a handful of races later this season – possibly running a full year in 2015.
At New Hampshire, Bowyer has a pair of wins back when he was racing for Richard Childress Racing. Besides that, he has two top-four finishes with MWR at the 1-mile track, but struggled during both races at the speedway last season. Loudon is one of Burton’s best tracks. He has four victories in 38 starts at the track, and he nearly won both races there in 2013. Before joining MWR, Vickers wasn’t exceptionally great at New Hampshire – recording two top-fives in his first 13 starts at the speedway. Since then, he has three straight top-10 finishes.
During Friday’s first practice, Bowyer and Vickers were each inside of the top-10 as they look to seal the deal for MWR’s first win in 2014.