Clint Bowyer: First year success with MWR exceeded expectations
|By Dan Cross||Wednesday, November 21st 2012, 10:06 GMT|
NASCAR Sprint Cup championship runner-up Clint Bowyer says he never imagined his first year with Michael Waltrip Racing would be so successful.
The 33-year-old signed a three-year deal to drive Waltrip's #15 Toyota Camry late last year, having previous raced for Richard Childress Racing since 2004.
Partnered with veteran crew chief Brian Pattie, Bowyer was competitive through most of 2012 and was a title contender up until the penultimate race at Phoenix, where Jeff Gordon deliberately crashed into him and dashed his hopes.
A second-place finish at the season finale at Homestead - coupled with Jimmie Johnson's retirement - saw Bowyer claim the 'best of the rest' position in the Cup points standings, something he never envisaged even just a few weeks ago.
"When we made the Chase my realistic goal was to be in the top five," he said.
"I thought that was a reachable goal for our race team the way we had been running into the Chase, and to exceed that... you just can't ask for more than that out of a brand-new group like that. I'm very proud of their efforts."
Bowyer added that his team's competitive form this year makes him very optimistic for 2013.
"I'm super-excited about how far we've come in a short amount of time," he said. "We've learned a lot about each other, and I think we're going to be even better next year."
MWR had never managed to get a driver into the Chase prior to 2012, when both Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr reached the title shoot-out.
Bowyer's runner-up finish eclipses the third place in the championship that he managed with Childress in 2007.