Michael Waltrip Racing has, without doubt made a giant stride this year in becoming a racing organization that has to be considered a threat to win almost every week on the Nascar Sprint Cup Circuit. I don’t however, see Michael Waltrip Racing as being a contender to win a Sprint Cup Title over the long run, unless they make further adjustments. Behind power house Hendricks Motor Sports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway, they head up a list of third tier teams that include Penske, Earnhardt Ganassi and Richard Childress Racing.
The problem I see with the Waltrip team, the only legitimate year in and year out Cup contender on the staff is 53 year old Mark Martin. The remainder of the drivers, albeit, being very good, do not have the pedigree to win a Sprint Cup title. Mark Martin would have a couple of these prizes on his mantle save some rotten luck.
The rotten luck I am reffering to is Dale Earnhardt Sr, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Mark Martin has had since 1981, five second place finishes, one as recent as 2009 where he finished as a brides maid to Jimmie Johnson, four third place finishes and three fourths. He has made the top ten in the point standings in 17 of the last 30 years.
With only 12 starts on the year, he is a respectful 28th in points in 2012, with three poles, 2 top 5’s and 5 top 10’s. This is the rock in Michael Waltrip Racing stable, but as I mentioned before, he’s 53 years old, and doesn’t want to run a full schedule every year.
Even though MWR has some good drivers in newly acquired Clint Bowyer and mainstay Martin Truex Jr, do they have the talent on board to make a legitimate run in 2013. I don’t think so. Truex is currently tied with Denny Hamlin at seventh in the points standings but does not have a win, and Boyer is on top of the bubble in tenth place with one win, that coming in Sonoma last month.
Truex has one career win in eight years of Cup competetion, coming at Dover in 2007. Bowyer has six wins , five at Richard Childress Racing, over his seven year career. Brian Vickers is a good driver, in my estimation, but he is not ready for Cup contention, and probably would need a good four years in a full time capacity to even consider a run.
To get into big boy racing with the top teams, Mikey needs a top notch driver, and after thinking long and hard, The driver that is available in 2013 is current points leader and legitimate Cup contender Matt Kenseth.
Matt has said that he has a deal signed and is ready to go, and I know the betting line has him going to Joe Gibbs Racing, and the #20 Home Depot Car, but do we know for sure? I don’t think so.
Matt Kenseth has strong ties to Mark Martin, and it wouldn’t surprise me an iota to see him in a Michael Waltrip ride next year. That is the most logical place for him to land. He is exactly what Michael Waltrip Racing needs in order to be a serious player for a Cup title.
If the thought process included Matt’s sponsor Best Buy, I believe there is a conflict with Home Depot, as they both sell large appliances and may be a conflict there. But Best Buy is in financial trouble, and are laying people off, as well as closing stores around the country, so are they indeed a player for next year?
The only other big names out there are Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch. I can’t see MWR getting involved with the problems Kurt Busch brings to the table, and Newman seems to be somewhat happy with Stewart Haas.
What ever step Michael Waltrip takes for next year, If he wants a Sprint Cup Title, the step needs to be a bold one.
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