Clint Bowyer might be the NASCAR poster boy for landing on your feet.
After finding no more room at the Richard Childress Racing inn when the team was forced to shrink from four cars to three because of sponsorship issues, Bowyer's career path led him to Michael Waltrip Racing.
What to some appeared to be an unlikely destination for the five-time Sprint Cup Series winner has turned into one of the 2012 season's major success stories.
"I basically kind of lost my ride at RCR, walked into a new program with a lot of unknowns, and I had a lot of confidence in what was going on," Bowyer said. "I still had confidence in myself."
Team owner Michael Waltrip recognized the talent Bowyer possessed, as well as that confidence, and decided to bring him into the fold. A shuffling of personnel found Bowyer suddenly working with crew chief Brian Pattie, another cast-off late of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, and in a short time the two have hit pay dirt.
"Michael paired me with Brian Pattie and paired me with a lot of good people, and that's what it takes to be successful in any good business, and NASCAR racing is no exception," said Bowyer.
Waltrip says it's no coincidence his team is hitting on all cylinders right now. The pairing of Bowyer and Pattie, the addition of Mark Martin and Brian Vickers and the change to TRD engines has all helped the once-struggling organization find its way among the sport's elite teams at this point of the season.
But Waltrip stresses the most important element of all is the relationships between his personnel.
"What great camaraderie we have at MWR, not only between Brian and Clint, but also between Clint and Vickers and [Martin] Truex and all of our drivers and Mark Martin," he said. "That's what a team is all about, having guys that believe in each other and work with each other."
Everything came together in a big way Sunday with Bowyer's win on the Sonoma road course. And while some may still consider the story of MWR this season a fluke, Bowyer believes there are even better things down the road fueled by the relationships inside the organization.
"That's something I've never been able to do before," he said. "I've had good teammates and I've had good stuff, but never like this at this magnitude. This is a young group. Michael stuck it out and I'm telling you, he's fixing to reap the benefits. He's worked hard. Our marketing department does a great job and this is I think the first of many to come. To have this dirt boy from Kansas in Victory Lane at this road course is big, trust me."
Updated June 25
|Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.|
|Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.|
|Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.|
|Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.|
|Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.|
|Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.|
|Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.|
|A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.|
|Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.|
|Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.|
|Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.|
|Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.|
|13||Martin Truex Jr.||10|
|His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.|
|An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.|