15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota driver Clint Bowyer clinched a berth in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Bowyer and No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. became the first drivers in Michael Waltrip Racing history to qualify for NASCAR's 10-race playoff. This weekend the 5-hour ENERGY team races at Richmond International Raceway.
MAKING THE CHASE:“Making the Chase is huge. Not just for the drivers, but also for the crews, sponsors, team owner … everybody. We couldn’t have asked for a better season after everything that happened in the offseason. There were so many unknowns coming into this season with this team, but to be able to land on our feet with a great organization like MWR, a great sponsor like 5-hour ENERGY and great teammates in Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. – I really couldn’t have asked for a better situation. (Crew chief) Brian Pattie and everyone on our 5-hour ENERGY Toyota is just hitting on all eight cylinders at the right time and I’m looking forward to this Chase.
“This is the first time I've been in a situation where we are locked in before we get to Richmond and we can race like we have absolutely nothing to lose - and everything to gain in terms of bonus points when the system resets after the race."
ON RICHMOND:“I think it’s more important for us to go to Richmond and try to win to get those extra bonus points. We’ve really been focusing on finishing in the single digits over the last couple weeks to secure our spot in this deal. Wins are very important, but you can’t gamble for a win if you aren’t locked in. We’re locked in now and if we have even an outside shot at a win in Richmond I’m going to do everything in my power to get those bonus points. As we saw last year – every single point counts!”
2012 EXPECTATIONS:"We are definitely ahead of schedule from where I thought we would be at this point. Our goals this year were to win a race, run up front and lead laps, make the Chase and compete for the Championship. We've won a race, we've run up front and led laps, now we've made the Chase and it's time to go run for a Championship.
CHASE CHANCES: “I like where we're at. I like where our cars are at. I think we have as good of speed as about anybody in the Chase. I say it every year that there are always more and more cars and teams that are capable of winning a championship. I think it's any man’s race once you're in. It's anyone's championship to win or lose as long as you make it in."
CHASE TRACKS: "Most of the Chase races are good for me. If you ever look at my stats in the last five or six years some of my best races are in the last 10 races of the year, so for whatever reason - I think it's because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I get excited!" (laughs).