I can remember talking to Clint Bowyer on the NASCAR media tour back in January. And, although he was saying all the right things about the upcoming season, I always kind of felt like he was a little unsure about this new chapter in his life.
And who wouldn't be. Bowyer was walking away from one of the most successful organizations in NASCAR history, and joining a group that only had two career wins, and had never even made the chase for the Sprint Cup.
In this crazy match game that is the Sprint Cup series, success is as much about good team chemistry, as is it horse power and aerodynamics. I mean, you need all three, and without one, the others don't matter.
This team, this relationship works, because all of the key players needed each other.
Bowyer needed Michael Waltrip Racing. It became clear last season, that the relationship between he and Richard Childress Racing, the only team he had ever known, had run its course. Bowyer needed a place to race.
"To be able to come to a new team, new home like I did with MWR, to be able to have the success our first year is a dream come true," Bowyer said after winning Saturday night's race in Richmond.
Crew Chief Brian Pattie needed MWR, too. After guiding Juan Pablo Montoya to the chase in 2009, he found himself without a job in the middle of last season as Montoya sputtered to find that success of two years prior.
"Twelve months ago I was sitting home watching this race at my house finishing up an outdoor grill. Come a long ways," said Pattie. "But, yeah, I feel blessed to have a great organization accept me last year when my contract ended at Ganassi. It's definitely gone better than expected."
And Waltrip need them both. They had what his organization didn't, they had race wins and trips to the Chase. Waltrip had driver Martin Truex, Jr. in his stable, but he had just one of both.
"I remember coming here and missing the races in '07. Six years later we're sitting in Victory Lane. Got two cars in the Chase," said Waltrip, referring to Boyer and Truex both getting into the chase this season."I'm pretty damn happy right now. That's what it's all about, being happy."
It's clear that the addition of Bowyer and Pattie, along with Mark Martin and competition director Scott Miller raised the game at MWR. They aren't by any means an overnight success. But they are a perfect match.
"With everything new, never would have dreamed in a million years all this would have happened this quickly," said Bowyer. "Obviously, it's the goal to win races and be in the Chase. Realistically, I knew what we were up against. Just pleasantly surprised."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times