Clint Bowyer announced on Friday that his move from Richard Childress Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing was official, and that he would be joining MWR from the start of the 2012 season in a three-year deal.
Bowyer wil be driving the MWR #15 Toyota-powered car, after energy drink brand 5-Hour Energy signed on to back him as the primary sponsor for 24 of the 36 Cup races.
“This has been a very long summer, but I think for everyone involved, the best decision was made to be at Michael Waltrip Racing,” said Bowyer. "I am a big fan of 5-hour Emergy so I was really happy when they approached me about putting a deal together. We were diligent in working through our options and finally found the right fit."
32-year-old Bowyer has been with RCR since he began his Cup career six years ago, and has collected four wins, two poles, 30 top-fives and 90 top-tens, and he admits that leaving the organisation will be a big wrench.
“I've been with one organization for my entire Sprint Cup career and leaving there was the hardest part of the decision," he said, adding that "it became clear that MWR provided us the best opportunity to win races ... Now I'm ready to start the next chapter in my racing career.”
“This is a watershed moment for our young organization,” said MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip. “Clint is a proven winner and consistent Chase participant. He had a lot of options and it makes me proud that Clint and 5-hour Energy chose to race with us ... We looked forward to this announcement becoming public knowledge, so that we could begin the pursuit to put some more folks on the car with Clint."
MWR has never had a driver qualify for the post-season championship Chase shoot-out. Bowyer himself missed out on a spot in the Chase this year, which may have contributed to an unbridgeable difference in contract negotiating positons between Bowyer and his current team boss Richard Childress, that persisted even when Bowyer brought in 5-Hour Energy as an additional prospective sponsor for RCR to bankroll the ongoing partnership.
“We went and talked to them about the 5-Hour deal and they still couldn't put a deal together, so I said, 'Well, all right, we'll go somewhere else,'” explained Bowyer, who agreed that he was nonetheless taking a cut in salary through this deal.
Bowyer will now be expected to take a leading role in developing and growing MWR to the next level, as he himself acknowledged at the official announcement. “I feel like this is an opportunity for a young company like MWR to catch up to some of these bigger companies that are more established,” he said.