On Thursday, a report emerged that Clint Bowyer, the most coveted free agent left on the NASCAR market, was near an agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing for 2012 and an announcement was expected over the weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.
On Friday, Waltrip said that while the team had good discussions with Bowyer and representatives, nothing was finalized.
"I can confirm we have had very productive conversations with Clint and a quality sponsor," Waltrip said. "Today, however, we don't have anything finalized and we're not in a position to make any formal announcements. Our goal has never changed. Rob (Kauffman) and I want to continue to improve the competitiveness of our team and be a consistent winner at NASCAR's highest level. Pursuing Chase-proven personnel, including drivers, has been a priority. As soon as we have more information to share, we will."
Bowyer is widely expected to leave his current team, Richard Childress Racing, at the end of the season and the "quality sponsor" that Waltrip mentions is reported to be 5 Hour Energy. (Earlier Friday, Rusty Wallace said on Sirius-XM's Morning Drive that 5 Hour Energy was leaving his Nationwide Series team.)
If the Bowyer-Waltrip partnership were to come true, it looks to be a downgrade of sorts for Bowyer based on results. Since 2007, the first year of Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota, the team has never made the Chase while Richard Childress Racing has had eight Chase berths, including three by Bowyer.
And it also must mean that Bowyer has backtracked off his famous comment at Bristol that Waltrip was "the worst driver in NASCAR. Period." Or that he at least thinks he's a better owner than driver.