by Garrett Horton
In its first five years of operation, Michael Waltrip Racing earned a total of two Sprint Cup victories, both with David Reutimann. In his first year with the organization, Clint Bowyer has delivered MWR three wins in just 31 races.
Denny placed second in both Charlotte events this year. In his prior 13 starts here, his best finish had been a fourth, which was his only top-5 up until this season.
The last three races held at Kansas have been won by our current top-3 in Sprint Cup points – Denny Hamlin this spring, Jimmie Johnson last fall, and Brad Keselowski in the spring of last year.
Aric Almirola finished 12th in Saturday’s race, his best finish since he placed sixth at Dover 19 races ago.
Bowyer’s Charlotte victory was his 19th top-10 on the year, breaking a personal best of 18 set in 2010. As a matter of fact, the trip to Victory Lane on Saturday night also broke his individual mark for wins and top-5’s in a year as well, now having three wins and nine top-5’s for the season.
Jimmie Johnson has a series high 21 top-10’s in 2012. Despite his impressive Sprint Cup resume, he has never posted 25 top-10s in a year. With five races left this year, he just needs four to do so and only three to tie his personal high of 24, which he has accomplished on three occasions (2006, 2007, and 2009).
Regan Smith, subbing for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 38th Saturday night, completing only 61 laps before his engine expired.
Brad Keselowski led the most laps Saturday night, pacing the field for 139 circuits. This was the second most laps he has ever led in a race and was easily the most on 1.5 mile track. His previous high on an intermediate track was at Kentucky last summer when he led 79 laps in that event.
Kyle Busch, who just barely missed the Chase this year, would have been a factor in these final ten races had he managed to qualify. In the five races since the Chase started, Busch has accumulated 177 points, the sixth highest total in the span. Additionally, Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to have more top-5’s than Busch in this year’s Chase (Johnson has four to Busch’s three).
Mark Martin completed his 850th career Sprint Cup start Saturday in solid fashion, coming home in sixth-place. Martin ranks fifth in the all-time starts list, trailing only Richard Petty, Ricky Rudd, Dave Marcis, and Terry Labonte.
The difference in dollars earned between Friday night’s winner Joey Logano and Saturday’s last-place finisher Dave Blaney. Logano, who earned his eighth Nationwide victory of the season this weekend, collected $62,325 for his efforts, while Blaney walked away with $63,713 for completing just 25 of the 334 laps in Saturday’s Bank of America 500.