As a long-time fan of Michael Waltrip, dating back to his days in the #30 Country Time car in the then-Winston Cup Series, I never thought I'd see the day where he became a successful team owner - but that's exactly what he has done. From his days as "Darrell's little brother" to his first win in Daytona turning to tragedy, Waltrip has gone on to bigger and better things as a team owner, with two of his drivers racing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The early days of MWR - Michael Waltrip Racing made its first start in the Cup Series in 2002, but it wasn't until 2007 that the team signed an agreement with Toyota to field a multi-car team full-time. That initial season was tumultuous at best: the three-car team failed to qualify for a combined 39 races, and at the season-opening Daytona 500, Waltrip was hit hard by NASCAR after an unknown substance was found in the engine of his #55 Toyota; his car was confiscated, members of his team were ejected from speedway grounds, his crew chief was fined $100,000 and his team was docked 100 points in both driver and owner points.
Brighter days ahead - 2008 saw MWR run two full-time teams - for Waltrip and David Reutimann - plus a third team of part-time drivers, including Michael McDowell, Marcos Ambrose and Dale Jarrett. In 2009, Reutimann earned MWR its first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Reutimann added a second win in 2010, the year Waltrip stepped back from full-time racing and Martin Truex Jr. joined the team.
2012: the breakout season - Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. were the full-time drivers in 2012, with the third team split between Waltrip, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers. MWR made the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time, with not one but two cars - both Bowyer and Truex Jr. earned Chase berths, with Bowyer earning two wins in the "regular season" and a third win at Charlotte in the Chase (through the first five races of the Chase).
On the Nationwide side - Waltrip is also working with extreme motorsports competitor Travis Pastrana as the Nitro Circus star makes the transition to NASCAR competition. Pastrana is racing in the Nationwide Series RAB Racing in conjunction with MWR; he has also raced for Roush-Fenway in the series, as well as for ThorSport Racing in the Camping World Truck Series.
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Michael Waltrip
- David Reutimann