Michael Waltrip responds to the announcement that Michael Waltrip Racing would allow Clint Bowyer to pursue other teams at the end of the year, and that his racing team would not field a full time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in 2016.
RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points. Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points. But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase. It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points. Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points, but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond. It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?
Eight tweets from around the NASCAR Twitterverse Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets you might have missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Before I put this old thing under lock and key, I just had to try it on. Dads 2001 IROC uniform. pic.twitter.com/SQtUSdGmWG — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) August 23, 2015 2. Cartman went on a diet @Blaney pic.twitter.com/Rbuz70eg1W — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) August 21, 2015 3. Paddle boards have so many uses! ☀️ pic.twitter.com/CLFhGiq94w — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) August 25, 2015 4. . @KevinHarvick 's little fan wanted to bring him a cupcake from her brother's birthday party. So sweet! pic.twitter.com/07z5DVgBDM — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) August 20, 2015 5. Oh, by the way you may want to invite some friends for dinner! #TeamMcD pic.twitter.com/oQLKIE5Dgg — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) August 21, 2015 6. Amen. Goodnight ✌️ pic.twitter.com/Nd2hesmKiq — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) August 21, 2015 7. Warning- I've officially graduated into one of those annoying parents that's telling everyone about their baby's first laugh today. — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) August 27, 2015 8. How fake driving is made, starring @Keselowski https://t.co/9CXOyMnRr8 — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) August 26, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: If Nature's Bakery made beef jerky. I'd buy it. #NASCAR — Rick Kaufman (@RickKaufman1) August 26, 2015
The Joe Gibbs Racing teams of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth , which combined to win six of the last nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, will each lose 15 minutes of practice time next weekend when the series heads to Darlington Raceway . The two were among 11 teams issued warnings arising from pre-qualifying and pre-race inspection issues at Bristol Motor Speedway , site of the Aug. 22 Irwin Tools Night Race . Busch's No. 18 team failed pre-race inspection four times on Saturday. Busch finished eighth in the race. Kenseth's No. 20 team was penalized for failing pre-race inspection on its first two attempts, as well as failing to get to inspection at the allotted time. Kenseth finished 42nd after when an engine issue sidelined the 2003 Sprint Cup champion after 110 laps of the 500-lap race. NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series is not competing this weekend. The Bojangles' Southern 500 is scheduled for Sept. 6 at Darlington (7 p.m., NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 15-minute penalties will be enforced when opening practice gets underway on Friday, Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. Kenseth is currently fourth in the Chase Grid and has a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff locked up. Busch, who missed the first 11 races of the season due to injuries sustained in a crash at Daytona International Speedway in February, is currently second in the Chase Grid, but needs to clinch a top 30 position in the point standings over the final two regular-season races before he officially locks his spot in the Chase up. Warnings may be issued to teams for a variety of minor infractions. For every fourth warning issued to a team, whether during a championship (points) or non-championship (non-points) event, the loss of pit stall selection will be enforced. Others teams receiving warnings at Bristol for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice were: No. 22 ( Joey Logano / Team Penske ), No. 24 ( Jeff Gordon / Hendrick Motorsports ), No. 7 ( Alex Bowman / Tommy Baldwin Racing ), No. 30 ( Travis Kvapil /TMG) and the No. 98 ( Timmy Hill /Premium Motorsports) Also penalized for being late to inspection were the following teams: No. 40 ( Landon Cassill /Hillman Racing), No. 83 ( Matt DiBenedetto / BK Racing , No. 15 ( Clint Bowyer / Michael Waltrip Racing ) and the No. 11 ( Denny Hamlin / Joe Gibbs Racing ).
Michael Waltrip surprises Uber customers by giving them a free ride.
Michael Waltrip Racing's history and full crews for Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer's teams
Annual Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event recognized Darrell and Michael Waltrip have been selected by the National Motorsports Press Association as the organization's Spirit Award recipient for the fourth quarter of 2014. The brothers were recognized for their annual Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event, which raised $450,000 through an auction, dinner and golf tournament. The proceeds from the fifth annual event benefit several organizations including Motor Racing Outreach (a non-profit organization that ministers to the needs of families of those involved in NASCAR ), Feed the Children (a U.S.-based anti-hunger organization) and Tucker's House (an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities that require modifications at home for safety, accessibility and therapy). Darrell Waltrip was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, won three premier series titles and 84 premier series races in his storied career. Michael Waltrip is a four-time winner in the sport's premier series with two victories in the Daytona 500 and is also the co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, which fields two full-time cars in the Sprint Cup Series . Also receiving votes for the second quarter award were the Kyle Busch Foundation and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Joey Coulter . Lynda Petty, the late wife of seven-time premier series champion Richard Petty, Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr . and longtime car owner Junie Donlavey, who passed away in June, have also won the quarterly award this year. An overall winner of the 2014 NMPA Spirit Award will be determined by the members of the NMPA and announced on January 25, 2015 at the association's annual convention in Concord, North Carolina. The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the race of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Kauffman speaks out on MWR decision The landscape in NASCAR shifted last week when Michael Waltrip Racing announced that it would end full-time competition in the Sprint Cup Series following the 2015 season. MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman, the former investment banker who gave MWR an influx of finanical support in 2007, was at the forefront of the decision. On Monday, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell addressed the moves made by Kauffman and MWR that included Clint Bowyer being freed to pursue other deals for 2016 and Kauffman buying into Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in late July. "I think in Rob's case we're pleased that he believes in the sport and is willing to make a continued investment in NASCAR, which is a great time for us," O'Donnell said during his weekly interview with NASCAR.com. "As well as Clint Bowyer who is certainly a talented driver who will find a home with a top team. You never like to see anything happen with a race team like this in this case, but again we'll see some things we believe through the manufacturer's support where some other teams may become stronger through all this as well. "So a lot still to play out. We're working closely with all our race teams right now to do everything we can to put everyone in an even better position as we head into the 2016 season." Michael Waltrip Racing was Toyota's flagship team when the manufacturer entered the Sprint Cup Series in 2007 and has produced seven victories. "Terrific partner for Toyota," O'Donnell said of MWR's involvement with the manufacturer. "When someone comes into the sport, especially the likes of Toyota, you want to partner with race teams who have either had a solid foundation or can build together. And ultimately the goal is to win races and Michael Waltrip was able to do that, which is a great testament to building up the Toyota brand within NASCAR. "You're seeing (Toyota) grow, and look to grow their partnership in the sport as well, as we head into '16, and that's a great sign for the sport." MORE: MWR won't field full-time entries in 2016
RELATED: Buy tickets for Homestead It's a primetime test time for NASCAR teams this week as many head to Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the Nov. 20-22 season finale Ford Championship Weekend. Four drivers will participate in a Goodyear tire test at the 1.5-mile South Florida track Monday and Tuesday with an open test scheduled for Wednesday -- NASCAR allowing each Sprint Cup Series team to be represented by one car. Trevor Bayne ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing), Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) are scheduled for the Goodyear test. With the increased importance on Homestead in the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup elimination format, as the track's host the final race that determines the series champion, teams will be taking advantage of the open test as well. Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), a winner last Saturday night at Bristol, is among those scheduled to test on Wednesday along with other Chase-qualified drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr . ( Hendrick Motorsports ), defending Homestead winner and series champ Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) and Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). Ty Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ) will also participate. "It's an opportunity for the teams to really dial in the tire and the aero package for '15," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Monday morning. "Certainly an important event for just about everybody in the series so they'll be going down there, working with Goodyear to make sure they've got the right package to be able to obviously share that data with the race teams and get ready for the final push that we see in November."