Blog Entry

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:12 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 7:51 pm
By Pete Pistone

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(Waltrip and Bowyer hope to team up and put together a successful Sprint Cup Series season in 2012)


The 2011 season didn’t go exactly as planned for Michael Waltrip Racing. 

After showing improved performance the previous year, MWR came into the new campaign with high hopes for both drivers Martin Truex Jr. and David Reutimann

But by the time the final checkered flag of the year flew the duo ended up winless and Truex Jr. had himself a new crew chief while Reutimann was out of a ride. 

Truex ended the year eighteenth in the final standings with three top five finishes and a pole as highlights along the way. 

But it was a rough year for the New Jersey native who endured a vicious wreck in the spring Martinsville race. 

Truex hit the third turn wall at full speed in his April wreck at the Virginia half-mile track and completely destroyed his NAPA Toyota. He was shaken but fortunately otherwise uninjured in the accident. 

"Everything was fine and I went to let off [the brakes] to go into [turn] three and it stuck to the floor," Truex said. "At that point, there's nothing you can do. It happens so fast, there's no way you can hit the kill switch or shut the thing off. Just lock up the brakes and you are just a passenger at that point." 

Although we walked away from the incident things didn’t go very well for Truex from that point on. The frustration with poor finishes and performances finally boiled over to the point of crew chief Pat Tryson being replaced by Chad Johnston in early June. 

The veteran Tryson wasn’t sure why the change was made when news came of his release from the position. 

"Somebody always has to be that guy," he said. "I wouldn't say I was part of the problem. As a company we aren't running well. It's a strange deal. I really can't say much." 

Improvement came gradually for the 56 team as the season wore on and Truex was pleased with the progress while still disappointed with his overall season. 

“I think our team has done a nice job all year as far as bringing fast race cars to the race track,” Truex said. “There have been some other things that we’ve missed on, parts failures and making mistakes and things that really hurt us in the points. But we’ve had fast cars all year long.

“For us ... it’s been a lot of what could’ve been or what might have been.”

Reutimann’s year was worse than his teammate's and ended up in the popular driver’s release. He struggled from nearly the opening green flag of the season and after winning a race in 2010 could muster only one top five finish this season.

The disastrous campaign came to a head when Reutimann was informed he would not return to the No. 00 ride next season and was dismissed from the team.

"I had no indication," said Reutimann, when informed of his fate. "They never told me my job was on the line or in jeopardy.

“It’s been an awful season for us, for sure. We haven’t run up to our expectations or our standards. But I thought I’d have a chance to make up for it. … It’s a bit of a shock. I wasn’t expecting it.”


The team has undergone a huge overhaul heading into 2012 with two new drivers as well as a change in management.

Scott Miller comes to MWR after a long career at Richard Childress Racing and slides into the Director of Competition role of the now three-car team.

“This is the highest ranking role in our competition department and we needed a person with great knowledge of our sport, experience in managing highly competitive personnel, and a vast technical background,” said team co-owner Michael Waltrip. “Scott is exactly all of those things. This is such an important hire for our organization.”

Miller’s job will be to bring Truex Jr. as well as newcomers Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin to the next level and turn MWR into an organization capable of winning races as well as competing for Chase berths.

Bowyer follows Miller from RCR and with 5-Hour Energy as the main sponsor behind the effort of the new No. 15 Toyota believes he can be an impact player in the 2012 championship hunt.

“This is a great opportunity and you can see the foundation for big things in place here,” said Bowyer. “To say I’m excited about what lies ahead is a very true statement.”

Bowyer will be teamed up with veteran crew chief Brian Pattie, who helped guide Juan Pablo Montoya into the Chase for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2009.

“I’ve known Brian Pattie for a long time and the thing that impresses me the most is how he calls a race and his knowledge of race cars,” Bowyer said. “We both grew up working on dirt cars and have pretty similar backgrounds. We understand each other and I think we speak the same language. I know once we get together and start working we’re going to see great results.”

Joining Truex and Bowyer for a limited schedule will be Mark Martin, who takes the wheel of Reutimann’s old ride with the Camry now sporting the No. 55. Martin’s tenure at Hendrick Motorsports came to an end this past season and he was seeking an opportunity to remain at the Cup level but on a scaled down schedule.

“I’m really excited about having an opportunity to be a part of something that I can sort of transition to, whether it’s with this organization or another organization when we get around to 2014,” Martin said of his 25-race schedule in the car. “I love this sport. I don’t want to go away. I want to be involved in this sport for a long, long time.”

Waltrip will run five additional races in the No. 55, the four restrictor plate events at Daytona and Talladega as well as the summer stop at Kentucky Speedway.


Things couldn’t have been much more disappointing for MWR in 2011 so a fresh start and shake-up was just what the team needed. The addition of Miller to run the day-to-day operations of the organization is a huge move that should bring stability to a team dearly in need of it. Truex is still the anchor and will need to carry the momentum of his final 2011 outings into the new year. Bowyer and Pattie should make a formidable pair but the chemistry of a brand new team usually takes some time to develop. Martin can still wheel a race car and his veteran presence will be a major benefit to have around. More speed and reliability from Toyota’s engine program is a necessity. Overall things look much better for MWR going forward but the team needs to find some cohesiveness quickly in order to compete with the top echelon of the series.


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Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:06 pm

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

Mikey-   as a 'real fan should know that this team was started in 1996 by co owner(50%0) Robert Kauffman and Waltrip joined forces in 2002,I'm not sure in your mind how long it takes to be a top tier team  but 15 years is awfully long time without attaining that goal.Toyota has poured a ton of money in it's three teams and JGR is the only Toyota team that has  threatened to be a real winner in Sprint Cup racing.Waltrip has the gift of gab but lacks what it takes to be a top driver and now it looks the same as a owner.

Since: Dec 18, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:16 am

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

I generally do not make negative posts ,however; in this instance i must make an exception to that rule.  If a truely honest survey was conducted on how most fans feel about Michael Waltrip's personal actions and the way his teams business is conducted, I believe the results would show that not many folks care for him or his actions.  I also realize in this days business climate you have to make unpopular decisions to survive. With that in mind most people I talk to think Michael waltrip is self serving and has no loyalty to the people that have brought the team to its level of success while doing it in second tier equipment.  As an ambassadorfor Nascar, Waltrip is and always has been a major suckup and never ever would tell it like it is.
I clearly am a Mark Martin fan but dont see what he will bring to the table for the team. He is no longer competitive and is clearly just out to make a couple more million before retirement, I hate to see a so called race car driver just pull over every time a car gets close enough to attempt a pass. My prediction is no waltrip car will make the top 20 in points for 2012 and that will tell the tale of Michael Waltrip racing.  Bowyer will just smile a lot and laugh all the way to the bank.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2011 10:36 pm

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

Buckeye, for a team that started from the ground up, with a manufacture that had never been in the cup series, I think MWR has done a damn good job.  They have accomplished more in my mind than SHR, even though Tony won the championship.  Why, Because Tony didn't win with his equipment. He won with Hendrick Equipment.  Tony is a arm of HMS and therefore as a team what has he really accomplished? 

At MWR they build the own cars they do a lot of research on Engines for TRD, and yes they have won 2 races in their 5 years of existence.

Next season the Toyota's should have an advantage with the EFI engines, since EFI is more in Toyotas line.  Michael has 3 strong drivers and should put 2 of them in the chase (yes I said that). 

The success of MWR is where it as come from in short amount of time. 

You can agree or disagree, but a real fan knows it harder to win when you have to build everything for yourself than it is to have it given to you on a silver plater. 

And when Tony retires watch him sell his team to another Hendrick monkey. 

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:44 pm

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

Waltrip has been worse as a Owner then he was as a Driver and I don't think anybody thought that was possible,and he has even cheated and got caught on several occasions and STILL didn't win.....that's bad..Laughing

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2011 4:27 pm

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

Mikey, thats exactly what I was thinking about Kurt, that he would get a sponsor and go to MWR. 

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:43 pm

Team Review/Preview: Michael Waltrip Racing

Mikey had to make a tough decision with David but when the Sponsor says this as an owner you don't have much choice.

Mark Martin can bring a ton of knowledge to the teams helping them into the chase.  He brings with him a knowledge that it takes to have a winning operation from his days with Rousch and just recently Hendrick Motor Sports. 

Clint Bowyer, was a nice surprise especially since he and 5 hour energy came to Michael.  This shows me that Clint understands what it means to be in an organization committed to winning and when he saw RCR would not resign him then he went to Michael with his sponsor and said hey we need a ride.  I know Michael would love to have a 4 car team So expanding to 3 cars was a no brainer.  Here is the deal will Michael be able to purchase another teams points?  Would Richard Childress be kind enough to Clint to seel the points of the 33 or even the 31 to Clint moving the 33 points to the 31?  That way if a rain out occured the 33 would line up behind the 31.  Or would GM nix such a deal.  Will Michael be able to get the points from one of the 2 Red Bull teams?  Or will Clint have to qualify to get into the 1st 5 Races in 2012.?

And don't anyone be surprised if Kurt Busch was to approach Michael with Sponsorship that Michael would jump at it and put Kurt in a car too expanding to 4 cars.

Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: December 17, 2011 11:30 am


mw is good at only one thing: running his mouth - not his cars. Not one of his cars will finish over 20th this year in Cup. How he cons sponsors out of money is unbelievable.

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