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.
Michael Waltrip Racing's history and full crews for Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer's teams
Race shop hosts event to promote science, technology, engineering, math CORNELIUS, N.C. -- The questions weren't surprising and ranged from "how much do you make" to "how did you get interested in racing ." Nothing too bizarre to start off, and with just enough feedback to keep the trip interesting and the attendees attentive. Last month, Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers hosted approximately 30 teenagers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte (Mecklenburg and Union Counties). It was one of four events the organization took part in this year to help demonstrate the importance of STEM, an academic curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math. According to the U.S. Department of Education ( www.ed.gov/stem ), "only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations." Following the screening of a short video and the open discussion, the teens, ranging in age from 13 to 18, toured the expansive facility where MWR personnel explained the engineering and safety aspects of today's Sprint Cup Series cars in a more hands-on setting. Vickers, a three-time winner in Sprint Cup and a former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, said he has tried to tailor his approach to the interest of each individual group. "I wouldn't say it's changed it dramatically but certainly there are some things you learn as you go through the process," he said. "It's interesting. Every group is different, some are totally engaged, absolutely thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially the younger kids. The older groups, when you're in high school ... they want to pretend like they're not impressed even though they are. They're just that age where all their peers' opinions really matter so you have to really pull it out of them. "One mistake I made early on was just hammering science, technology, engineering and math. Because that's what it's about, right? I think it should be an integral part of it but the reality is you're not going to get 100 kids in one room and they all want to be engineers." The bigger picture, he said, was the opportunity to promote the value of getting an education. And that was the message he tried to impress upon the teens. "Something I have learned is that everyone here is intrigued by different things. Maybe it doesn't involve STEM, but maybe it does," he said. "What I would say to you is you should take your education seriously, but do something you love. Maybe it is working on race cars or building rockets or building skyscrapers, whatever. Maybe it's writing a play, or maybe it's being the next great artist. I don't know. "I'm not going to stand here and tell you that you need to be an engineer if that's not something that intrigues you. But I will tell you that your education is one of the most valuable assets you're going to have in your life." He doesn't undersell the importance of the STEM program, however. Integrating it with the Boys and Girls Clubs has been a success from the standpoint of providing youngsters with hands-on learning opportunities. In addition to the tour of the race shop, the teens were also the guests of the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It works for us," Vickers said of the program. "Because that's what racing is about. It's engineering-based. One of the last ones we did was in Atlanta, and we got just some amazing responses. "Those kids were so engaged. They had these dreams, and yeah, some of them, a big group of them in fact, wanted to be engineers. We had two or three that really wanted to work on race teams. And one young boy wanted to be an architect, a couple wanted to be musicians. ... And that's great. "But to only talk about (engineering), I think, it doesn't go as well. So I've kind of opened it up a little bit more; still focus on that but talk to them about what do they want to do, what are they interested in?" So just how much does he earn? "I always get that question," he said, laughing. "I do pretty well."
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: Updated Chase Grid " Driver standings We hope you enjoyed some rest and relaxation during the off week for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. Because starting this week things are about to get real -- real fast. With just two races remaining until the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set, there are still some spots up for grabs. Ten drivers are locked into postseason berths, but that means six openings are still available -- five if you're penciling in Kyle Busch , who has four 2015 wins but is 29th in points. Of the winless drivers who'd be in the Chase if it started today ( Jamie McMurray , Ryan Newman Paul Menard , Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer ), which one is most likely to lose his spot? Conversely, of the drivers currently outside the top 16, who is most likely to win their way into the postseason party? NASCAR.com editors George Winkler and Maggie MacKenzie are here to give their opinions. Check out their take, then vote in our poll and let us know your view in the comments section below. Winkler: Hey Maggie, hopefully the pressure won't get to you like it might get to some of these drivers. These are tense times indeed. One driver I'm skeptical about making the Chase is Paul Menard . Despite his heartwarming hometown win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America , Menard has visited Victory Lane only once in his Sprint Cup Series career. Qualifying for the Chase based on points is a dangerous way to live, especially when you consider Menard is just plus-19 points from the cutoff line. Throw in the fact Menard hasn't had much success at Darlington or Richmond (one top-10 finish in 25 races combined) and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fall out of contention. MacKenzie: George, looks like we, once again, find ourselves in a head to head debate . You're right, tense times are upon us with the Chase looming in the near future and drivers are scrambling in last chance efforts to earn a coveted Chase berth. The clock is certainly ticking and I'm starting to feel the pressure -- are you? You've got a valid point about Menard and although I do think it is likely for him to fall out of the top 16, I'm going to have to pick a different driver. I think Clint Bowyer will be losing his spot before Menard does. Bowyer currently sits in the last spot on the grid, 17 points behind Jeff Gordon in the 15th position. Bowyer's safest bet for securing a spot in the Chase would be with a win since getting points is clearly not his forte this season. Unfortunately, the odds are against the driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota as he hasn't visited Victory Lane since 2012 at Charlotte. Winkler: There's no clear choice outside of the top 16 for a driver making it into the Chase. It's going to take a special day and a pressure-packed win for any of them to get the job done. Kasey Kahne came through with the equivalent of a ninth-inning home run last year when he qualified for the Chase with a win at Atlanta in the second-to-last race of the 2014 regular season, and he could be the one to do it again. RELATED: Kahne proves bubble driver can make Chase Even though there's no reason to look at his recent performances and feel confident about the pick, there are some silver linings. He finished sixth at Richmond earlier this season, and he has a driver rating of 104.00 in the past five years at Darlington. MacKenzie: Ah, I like where you are going with this one, George. Although I don't think any driver outside of the grid has a great chance of entering the top 16, I, too, think Kahne could go for the repeat and get himself a last-minute win. And how great of a story would that make? The Hendrick Motorsports driver has been pretty vocal about how disappointing the past few races have been for him and he knows he needs a win . He has proven that he can work well under pressure after last year's Atlanta win so I say that if there is any driver who can snag a last-minute victory, it would be Kahne. MORE: Kahne knows he must win to earn Chase berth
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
See the No. 15 Toyota's paint scheme for Labor Day weekend MORE: Buy tickets for Darlington " See more throwback paint schemes for Darlington SHOP: Darlington gear Clint Bowyer is really turning the clocks back with his throwback paint scheme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 6, 7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Darlington Raceway. Bowyer took to Instagram to reveal details about the look his No. 15 Toyota will sport. As Bowyer wrote on Instagram: "The scheme connects two of the sport's very best, car owner Bud Moore and the late Buddy Baker. To make it a TRUE throwback this baby is totally hand painted front to back. Now let's go make buddy proud!!!" In another post, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver added, "All my old dirt cars were hand painted. Can't wait for yall to see it." Here's a look at the car Baker drove in 1974 that Bowyer's look is based off of. Entering next weekend's race, Bowyer holds the final spot in the provisional Chase Grid with just two regular-season races left before the 16-driver field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set. Bowyer has one top-10 finish in nine career starts at the 1.366-mile track in South Carolina.
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase standings Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Bristol Motor Speedway. 1. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano became just the third driver to lead approaching the halfway point on Saturday night, and he paced 176 laps en route to his second Bristol victory. " MORE: Logano victorious again in night race 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick rallied from two pit-road speeding penalties to run second with five laps to go when he unsuccessfully attempted a run for the lead. " MORE: Harvick scores 10th runner-up finish 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The polesitter held steady in the top 10 but struggled to find the answer when navigating the middle to exit of the turns at Bristol. " WATCH: Hamlin leads field to green flag 4. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "These have been really good laps, man," crew chief Chad Knaus radioed Johnson as he scored his 10th top-five result at Bristol. " SIGN UP: RaceView Scanner 5. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer qualified ninth and was running second by Lap 232, but he struggled some after receiving contact late in the race. " MORE: Bowyer gives MWR a boost 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running second with teammate and eventual winner Joey Logano with 100 laps to go before being shuffled back on a restart. 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards gave up the lead on Lap 354 when he hit pit road for a flat tire. 8. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch recovered from an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 350 for a loose wheel and a subsequent pit-road speeding penalty with 68 laps to go. 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt fought to stay on the lead lap mid-race and recorded back-to-back beneficiary passes on the fourth and fifth caution periods. He then held on for his 15th Bristol top 10. 10. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Mostly quiet on the radio, Newman encouraged his team to leave the car alone as he also scored his 15th Bristol top 10. 11. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray completed a 50-lap run in practice that helped him get a feel for long green-flag stretches, of which there was one past halfway when he hovered in the top 10. 12. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Despite some early front-fender damage and a pit-road speeding penalty, Allgaier made the most of a promising run and earned his third top-15 finish of the year. 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon stopped late in the race for some repair to the left-rear of his car and finished as the last car on the lead lap. 14. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . "There's nothing I can really do to help you," crew chief Tony Gibson radioed Busch during the Lap 359 caution period, so Busch stayed out despite issues from an earlier mash-up with David Ragan . " SIGN UP: RaceView Scanner 15. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne restarted 18th at the tail end of the longest line with 67 laps to go after speeding on pit road. 16. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "It took a lot longer to start vibrating this time," Kahne reported to his team on Lap 330 while running 18th. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola qualified 31st in his repaired No. 43 Ford and was running 19th on Lap 358 when he told the team he feared they had lost the handle on it, prompting more adjustments. 18. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish experienced a tight-handling condition when running the bottom line and a loose-handling one when running the top, so his team worked on dialing the car in. 19. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart qualified 40th and cracked the top 15 by Lap 150 but later reported his car wouldn't cut in the middle of the corner any more. 20. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon was running fifth when he had to bring his throwback rainbow paint scheme to pit road on Lap 409 for a "bad vibration." 21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse had just taken the wave around and lined up 19th for the restart when he smacked the wall on Lap 384 to bring out the seventh caution flag. 22. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney spent most of the race trying to recover from a pit-road speeding penalty assessed on Lap 57. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears, in his 26th Bristol outing, reported a vibration that his team addressed along with right-rear damage from earlier contact during the Lap 384 caution. 24. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard lost some track position early after a near-spin on Lap 43. He had another setback during the fifth caution period when his team lost control of a tire and he was penalized. 25. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Significant damage to the No. 16 prompted the team to make multiple stops for repairs during the sixth caution period. 26. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . On Lap 146, Allmendinger collided with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and bounced off the inside wall. 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick radioed to her team that it felt like her right-front tire was going down, so she hit pit road on Lap 313 for four tires and fuel. 28. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Running a back-up car, Truex suffered left-front damage on Lap 384 and had to make two unscheduled pit stops, which put the team two laps down. 29. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Prior to the sixth caution flag, Whitt asked his team to check the right-side of his car after a competitor shoved him into the wall. 30. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The fastest qualifying rookie radioed early that he started off loose, but improved as the run continued. 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . A big setup change during a mid-race pit stop slowed McDowell’s forward progress. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman qualified 36th and picked up six spots but had trouble passing because his car developed a tight-handling condition in traffic. 33. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto was running 33rd when he radioed his team on Lap 308 that he needed to stop for flat right-rear tire. 34. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley caught a break on Lap 250 when the caution flag was waved. Just a few laps earlier, he had reported a right-front tire vibration. " MORE: Yeley's daughter steals the show 35. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Early in the race, Wise's team got creative with adjustments when they handed him a paint stick so he could reach and adjust his in-car track bar. 36. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . In his 19th Bristol appearance, Gilliland was stalled early when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel. 37. Mike Bliss , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Bliss suited up for his ninth race of the year, but his first behind the wheel of the No. 33. 38. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's team took a big swing at his setup early in the race, changing the bump stop setup, and chased the handling of the No. 40 throughout the race. 39. Timmy Hill , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing . Hill, making his second Bristol start on Saturday night, improved upon his first result at the half-mile track. 40. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan retreated behind the wall after receiving contact and spinning out of the top five to bring out the sixth caution flag on Lap 371. " MORE: Ragan, Bowyer show strength amid shake-up 41. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . An early two-tire call turned out to be a losing gamble as Larson cut his left-front on Lap 125 and hit the wall. He later brought out the fifth caution flag after hitting the wall. 42. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Around Lap 111, Kenseth limped from running in the top 10 to pit road for his team to assess his smoking car. An engine issue sent the No. 20 behind the wall. " MORE: Early exit for Kenseth 43. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett made an unscheduled pit stop after the first lap at Bristol for a transmission issue.
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."