Clint Bowyer: MWR is moving past controversy

John Harrelson

It may have taken some time, but Clint Bowyer says Michael Waltrip Racing is finally moving forward.

With crippling penalties, a high-profile sponsor defection and the contraction from three teams to two, it's been a tumultuous two months for Michael Waltrip Racing.

And just as the organization had weathered the proverbial storm, MWR suffered another setback Oct. 14 with the news Brian Vickers would miss the remainder of the season with a blood clot in his leg.

"We’ve sure learned a lot this year, but I think all of those mistakes and occurrences will only make you stronger in the future."-Clint Bowyer

"I don't know if everyone's at a good place, but I guess the biggest thing is we have a good game plan," Clint Bowyer said. "You've got to be able to come up with a goal, set goals, come up with a plan of where do we go from here? Certainly, man, it's been a day-by-day thing.

"No more than I felt like we were turning the corner of trying to get past what happened in Richmond, and Brian out of the blue comes up with his illness. It was like oh, my God, not again. When does it stop?"

The difficulties began when MWR manipulated the finish of the regular season finale Sept. 7 at Richmond International Raceway. In the immediate aftermath, NASCAR imposed record penalties including a $300,000 fine and the exclusion of Martin Truex Jr. from the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But the fallout would continue when NAPA announced it was ending its long relationship with MWR, a sponsorship worth an estimated $16 million. Unable to find a replacement sponsor, the organization will discontinue running three full-time cars in 2014. Consequently, the team allowed Truex to seek a ride elsewhere and reduced its workforce by 15 percent.

"We've sure learned a lot this year, but I think all of those mistakes and occurrences will only make you stronger in the future," Bowyer said. "But, nonetheless, we've got a great game plan of scaling back to two cars and focusing on that. I mean, make no mistake, the team that won the championship last year only had two cars so this can be done. Two-car organizations can work."

The upheaval has cast the future of MWR into question, though Bowyer believes the commitment level within the team has never been higher.

"I'm pleasantly surprised of the dedication and the hard work and the drive of everybody involved," Bowyer said. "We're leaving at 6 a.m. to head to Homestead to test for the next few days. This last week we've tested Texas.

"We've worked hard to get where we're at and the hard work and dedication will get us through all of this. The future will be brighter ahead."

Bowyer joined MWR last year after six seasons with Richard Childress Racing. And although his contract is to expire after the 2014 season, Bowyer reaffirmed his commitment to MWR Monday, saying he's "found a good home."

But before focusing entirely on 2014, Bowyer is focused on ending this season strong. Calling it a "good shot in the arm," he finished third Sunday at Martinsville. The result was his best thus far in the Chase for the No. 15 team and moved him to sixth in points.

"Very proud, to be honest with you, of where we're at considering all the circumstances," Bowyer said. "I mean, we're sixth in points. With all the distractions, all of the melees that have been going on with our organization, it just seems like it would have been very easy to get your eye off the ball and lose focus and not even completely be a factor at all."

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