Jan 23, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Mark Martin (left) and team owner Michael Waltrip (right) unveil the 2012 Aarons Dream Machine cars during the 2012 Sprint media tour stop at Michael Waltrip Racing in Cornelius, North Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
Michael Waltrip Racing, for the first time, has two drivers who are locked into the Race For The Chase, and are poised for a shot at The Sprint Cup Title. Martin Truex Jr. is currently in 5th place, and Clint Bowyer in 8th. The question begs, do they have a realistic chance?
Let’s take a minute and look at some history. Toyota has never won a title. They came close in 2010 when Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Denny Hamlin came within 39 points of de-throning Jimmie Johnson and the Chevrolet’s, but close doesn’t get to take the trophy home. Yes I know, Joe Gibbs won some titles, but that was back in 2005 when he ran a Chevrolet . His previous titles came in a Pontiac. We all saw Tony Stewart jump ship when the Toyota announcement came out of JGR headquarters, and got himself back into a Chevy.
Back to the present. MWR is going into battle this year for a title with two drivers who are good, but are they in the Elite category. Martin Truex Jr. has run well this year, and his 14 top 10’s and 6 top 5’s have gotten him into the Chase, but he has no wins. In fact, he has one win in his career, and that came at the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover in June of 2007. The 32 year old Truex is from Mayetta New Jersey, and Dover is essentially his home track.
Clint Bowyer got a win earlier this year at Sonoma, and has 6 wins over his Cup career, which started 2005, with one race, but virtually got underway in 2006. Is Clint the Elite driver that can get you a title? I don’t think so.
Michael has Mark Martin, and Brian Vickers in the background, but we all know Mark doesn’t want to drive a full schedule any longer, but could be a mentor for helping younger drivers along. Brian Vickers is also in the non-elite catagory, and probably will not win a Title unless he gets a ton better, and a full time gig.
I always knew in my mind that Matt Kenseth was more than likely headed for Joe Gibbs Racing to take over the Home Depot ride, but in my heart, I was hoping Mark and Michael were trying to somehow land the 2003 Cup Champion at Michael Waltrip Racing. But it didn’t happen.
I think we will find out this season just how well Toyota can stand up in the chase. Denny Hamlin should enter the chase at, or near the top of the standings based on his four wins this year. Only Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, and oh yeah, the #48 can unseat him by getting a win at Richmond Saturday night. If Kyle Busch can get into the chase, that will give Toyota four possibilities. This will give us a chance to see if Toyota can indeed compete.
Michael Waltrip Racing needs help, from the Toyota people, and at least one top level driver if they are going to contend for a title. A little help from TRD’s engine department would be nice also. What do you think, can a Toyota win it all?
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