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Much has been said about the success at Michael Waltrip Racing this year. The organization had never been a part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup before, but this year, MWR did a complete 180, of sorts, putting both its teams led by full-time drivers solidly into the Chase.
Only two races remain to crown this year’s champion, and its likely not going to be one of the Michael Waltrip Racing drivers — Clint Bowyer or Martin Truex Jr. — but the folks at MWR are looking at 2012 as a success, nonetheless. And why shouldn’t they? This is a team that went from never being in the Chase to putting both its No. 15 (Bowyer) and No. 56 (Truex) teams in the hunt.
Usually when there’s such a drastic turnaround at an organization, the bulk of the credit typically goes to the driver and/or crew chief. Bowyer is in his first year with the team and so is Mark Martin, on a part-time basis. And Martin has received credit for improving the organization, across the board, even though he’s not behind the seat every weekend. Bowyer and Truex deserve some credit, too, and so do the crew chiefs, for that matter.
But one man, specifically, has been on the receiving end of much of the credit for the turnaround, and no, he’s not a driver, a crew chief, or even a pit crew member. He’s Scott Miller, MWR’s Executive Vice-President of Competition.
Granted, there is a need for administration-type positions, but folks in these offices aren’t usually credited with on-the-track performance. Such is not the case when it comes to Miller.
Miller celebrated his one-year anniversary with MWR during last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Soon after the Texas race, Miller spoke about his anniversary. He wasn’t quick to take the credit for the MWR turnaround, instead expressing how proud he was of everyone at the organization. Here’s a little of what he had to say, according to a release earlier this week from Michael Waltrip Racing:
….”We just have to do what we can do. We certainly don’t want to wish bad luck on anybody, but for us to be able to close the gap in this deal it’s going to take some good performances by us and some bad luck from both of the other two guys in front of us. That isn’t highly likely, but we’ll do our part to keep trying to be competitive. Even if we aren’t able to close the deal and get the big one at the end it’d be nice to win one of these last two. We’ll be shooting for that. Everybody’s spirits are still high around here, so we’ll keep on showing up and trying to do our best.”
….”Texas was my one year anniversary at MWR. I walked in to a very good situation. Lots of good people here at MWR and there were a lot of good programs that were started and we were able to carry those through the winter. We came out swinging for real at the start of 2012. I’ve been very proud of everyone for staying motivated and working hard. We are kind of the little team that could or the Bad News Bears and everybody has to make some sacrifices to get it. I’m just really proud of everybody here at MWR for putting in the work that it takes to make the improvements that we’ve made.”
….”I just try to create an environment that makes people want to come here, dig in and work together. These organizations are big and you have to have everybody on the same page and working together. I try to create that environment and make where the people that work at MWR work together and still think it’s pretty cool to come to work.”
….”We won’t sneak up on anybody next year – and that’s a good spot to be in. Hopefully we can hold up our end of the bargain and come back next year as strong as ever, compete for wins and a championship. That’s what we strive to do every day.”
…. “There certainly are things that we have to keep working on. If we are going to continue to run with the likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Penske, Roush, RCR and JGR and all the other players at the pointy end of this deal then you can never sit still. None of them are sitting still and the moment you start to sit still you start to fall behind. We still have to improve our product and our processes. The thing about it is when you do strengthen certain things in your product or process it makes the things that remain needing improvement kind of jump out at you even more. We have a few things to work on – everybody does. We are just going to keep our heads down and keep improving over the winter.”
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