15 September 2011

Clint Bowyer Leaving Richard Childress Racing for Michael Waltrip Racing

Clint Bowyer has spent his entire NASCAR career with Richard Childress Racing and he has developed into one of the top contenders in the Sprint Cup Series and has made the Chase three times. But after the 2011 season, one that has been disappointing thus far for Bowyer as he missed the Chase, he will leave RCR for Michael Waltrip Racing. He will be sponsored by 5 Hour Energy and drive a third Toyota for MWR as a teammate to Martin Truex Jr. and David Reutimann.
This isn't surprising news as Bowyer has been looking elsewhere for when his contract with RCR expires at the conclusion of this season. MWR became the leading contender for Bowyer when Richard Petty Motorsports took their offer off the table a couple days ago. Bowyer and Childress have both been vocal that a split was forthcoming.
That said, it's still a little bit of a surprise, at least to me, that Bowyer would leave one of the top teams in the sport to one that has shown promise, both Truex and Reutimann have been able to run well many times in MWR Toyota's but neither have made the Chase with said team, and be in a new car with no owner points (although Waltrip may partner with someone to buy their owner points so that Bowyer is locked in). Granted that Bowyer is having an off year for his standards, that's still a top 15 year right now. Neither Reutimann nor Truex sit in the top 15 of the point standings right now. So it was an expected move but one with risk.
As for who will replace Bowyer at RCR, it's certainly a question mark. Childress does seem to have a future star developing in the organization in Austin Dillon, who has had a lot of success in the truck series the last couple of years. But would Childress rush him to Cup after he has not run much in the Nationwide Series (he is scheduled right now to run full time in Nationwide next year). The free agent crop this offseason looks substandard but maybe, if Jay Frye cannot find an investor to keep Red Bull Racing alive, RCR will sign Brian Vickers, a talented racer in his own right but hasn't had a consistent 2011.
It should be interesting to see how this affects the NASCAR Silly Season once the racing concludes at Homestead.

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