The wound from last September’s Richmond race will never fully-heal for Michael Waltrip Racing. As much as the team would like to forget their actions from the race, the memory will never fully fade away. However, with the right mindset this team will more than likely move on from the ordeal. MWR is optimistic for 2014.Clint Bowyer is determined to get back to victory lane after a year’s absence and Brian Vickers is set to make his return to full-time Sprint Cup Series racing. The team has no reason not be excited as they have a great shot at success again this season.
Coming off of a disappointing conclusion to the 2013 season, Clint Bowyer is set to take advantage of the fresh start the new season offers. Last year is behind Bowyer and he wants to focus on bettering himself in 2014. Following a winless year, the No.15 team is hungry to return to victory lane. With wins being of the upmost importance the season, returning to victory lane should not be just a goal but what is expected of Bowyer and team. The potential this team has was shown in 2012 and can easily be matched in the upcoming season.
My Prediction: A win or two will come for Bowyer as he cruises into the Chase. Once in, he will be a very big threat and come closer than ever before to the title. Much better things are in-store for Bowyer this season.
As much as Vickers hopes to return and be great right away in 2014, that isn’t a realistic goal. A big adjustment will be needed as he hasn’t competed full-time in the Sprint Cup Series since 2011. The toll the grueling schedule takes on a driver is something Vickers hasn’t experienced as of late. Making 2014 as much of a relearning year as a big comeback for Vickers. However, he will be competitive as last year’s victory at New Hampshire proved that Vickers still knows how to get it done. Don’t expect the No.55 team to shoot out of the gate hot, but expect them to gain traction as the season progresses.
My Prediction: Vickers has an okay season in which he often places in the top ten and top five. He will be close to scoring a win on many occasions, but the victory may not come until late in the season.
Co-team owner Michael Waltrip has said he is as excited for this season as he was for 2001. A big comparison as 2001 was much anticipated by Waltrip with his new ride at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. Waltrip has confidence in his team as he knows they have done everything in their power to be able to compete as closely as ever. Not many are more excited for Daytona to roll around than MWR. A clean slate is exactly what this team is looking for. With that, their opportunities are endless.
By Jason Schultz
Follow him on twitter @NASCARJason