|MWR offers $1M bonus for 1-2 finish at Daytona|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 02 July 2011 14:17|
Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman told his teams Saturday that he would pay them $1 million for a 1-2 finish in the 400-mile race. He would give the winning team $250,000 and the second-place team $750,000. Yes, the runner-up gets more - because teamwork and the pushing car in Daytona's tandem drafts has become so important since the famed track was repaved.
``Everyone gets it,'' Kauffman said. ``It's a team thing. If you're P2 and you're coming around the last turn, a lot of things are on your mind. So will this change anything? I don't know. But if it all worked out that Michael Waltrip Racing was 1-2, I'd be pretty happy with an extra million going to the guys.''
Kauffman came up with the idea in the middle of the night Saturday. He offered the same deal to Bobby Labonte, who drives for MWR's sister team, JTG Daugherty Racing.
Waltrip is a two-time Daytona 500 winner, and Kauffman said his co-owner welcomed the idea.
``Winning this, as Michael knows, is special,'' Kauffman said. ``There's something special about Daytona. The Waltrip organization has a special fondness for it. The guys feel like they have a decent shot, the cars are good and we're lucky that we have multi-car teams and teammates that respect each other. I don't think it changes the competitiveness or how the guys race one iota, but I think it sends the right signal to the guys.''
PENSKE PROGRESS: Roger Penske credited the recent upswing of his two-car NASCAR organization to operating under a one-team philosophy. But, he doesn't exactly discredit the notion that Kurt Busch's tirade in May had an effect.
``Sometimes you need a vibration, a little noise in the house,'' Penske said before Saturday night's race at Daytona. ``I don't think there's one silver bullet that you can point to as the fix, but conversation is always good and Kurt endorsed the plans that came from those conversations.''
Busch was terribly unhappy with the performance of the No. 22 team through March and April, and it boiled over at a race in Richmond in an expletive-laden rant on his in-car radio. Behind the scenes changes were made after that race, and both Busch and Brad Keselowski have turned it up since.
Busch won three straight poles and last week's road course race in Sonoma, and he's fourth in the Sprint Cup standings. Keselowski won the pole at Charlotte, the race at Kansas and was 10th at Sonoma to move up to 22nd in the standings. He has 10 races to move himself into contention for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
``I think Brad has been able to show some speed, and Kurt appreciates that,'' Penske said. ``Both drivers are highly motivated, which is a good thing, and people don't realize that Kurt wants to be the fastest car on every lap of every race, just like his brother. That's not a bad thing.''
The trick, Penske said, is for the organization not to get complacent just because it's running better.
``We can't get too far ahead of ourselves,'' Penske said. ``There's a lot of time left. Brad has the win, and that's certainly very important and that's certainly put him in position to make the Chase. But we've got to look at this one week at a time.''
STAR POWER: Country music star Martina McBride performed an hourlong concert before the race, singing some of her most popular tunes, including ``Broken Wing'' and ``Independence Day.'' In a not-so-stunning admission, McBride said widely beloved Dale Earnhardt Jr. is her favorite driver. She joked that her hair had little chance to hold up in Florida's stifling summer heat and humidity.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher served as the grand marshal, delivering the command to start engines. He said he grew up a NASCAR fan and had ``butterflies, that giddy feeling'' in his stomach beforehand.
``It's a great honor for me,'' Fisher said.
With 18 starters returning this fall, Fisher also acknowledged high expectations for the Seminoles in 2011. They are a popular pick to win the Atlantic Coast Conference and maybe compete for the national title.
``They're predicting us to win it, so I asked them the other day if they could send me the trophy,'' Fisher said. ``But they wouldn't send it down there. I guess we have to go win it, I hope. We feel good about our team coming in.''
Radio personality Todd Clem, better known as ``Bubba the Love Sponge,'' drove the pace car.
RCR MOVES: Richard Childress Racing has named Torrey Galida to its newly created position of chief operating officer. The team also named longtime executive Ben Schlosser as chief marketing officer and prompted Scott Frye to chief financial officer.
Galida will be responsible for overseeing RCR's day-to-day business operations. Schlosser has been with RCR since 2002 and most recently served as senior vice president in charge of business operations. Frye joined RCR as controller in 2007 and replaces Art McCarter, who will retire later this year.