Racing notes: Waltrip already seeing good results

jutter@charlotteobserver.comSeptember 7, 2013 

  • They’re in

    The following drivers have qualified for this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup:

    Matt KensethCarl Edwards
    Jimmie JohnsonClint Bowyer
    Kyle BuschKasey Kahne
    Kevin Harvick

    The remaining five were to be determined after Saturday night’s race in Richmond, which was not completed in time for this edition. For coverage go to thatsracin.com

    Inside: NHRA comes to zMax Dragway this week. 8C

— Regardless of what transpired Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Michael Waltrip Racing has already accomplished one big goal.

MWR placed its first drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup last season, but the key to long-term viability in NASCAR, team co-owner Michael Waltrip said then, was being able to do it on a consistent basis.

So far, mission accomplished.

Clint Bowyer already had a Chase berth clinched before Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, Martin Truex Jr. was in good position to claim a spot and MWR’s No. 55 Toyota team had a decent shot to make the owners’ points Chase.

“We’ve done it this year for sure and that’s great, but we have to do it every year. The cool thing about this year are the challenges that we’ve been faced with,” Waltrip said. “The new car was huge to get your arms around to get it tuned up and ready to race.

“If you just look at the organizations – (Rick) Hendrick and (Joe) Gibbs and (Roger) Penske and (Jack) Roush – all those gentleman have been doing this for many more years than us.”

Waltrip said while all three of his Cup teams were consistent early in the season, the organization as a whole needed more speed and worked diligently on that issue as the season progressed.

“As the midseason came along, I think we kept closing that gap and just got better and better and better,” Waltrip said. “I think we’re peaking as an organization as this Chase approaches so we’re very confident about our chances to race for a championship.

“We’re more confident about 2014, 2015 and beyond.”

Keselowski wins fifth of season

While Brian Scott led more laps in Friday night’s Nationwide Series race at Richmond than he has his entire career, it wasn’t enough for a victory.

Brad Keselowski passed Scott with 10 of 250 laps remaining and held on to win his fifth series victory in his last six starts.

The race was the 1,000th in the history of NASCAR’s second-biggest series.

“One of the things along the way is, at least for me, you never lose sight of how fortunate you are to win a race,” Keselowski said. “Whether it is the 1,000th or the 932nd. It is still an honor to win a race.”

Regan Smith finished third, Kyle Busch was fourth and Trevor Bayne was fifth. Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. ended up sixth.

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