CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What are your thoughts on 5-hour ENERGY committing for the full season? "It takes dollars to have success on the race track and the funding that 5-hour has provided for our race team has been just that. Really excited to get this year started off the way we have. As young as we are as a group -- we stubbed our toe last week, but you're bound to do that with a young group. Really looking forward to the rest of the season having 5-hour on our car is very, very important towards that. Again, just alluding back to the success story, 5-hour -- you hear a lot of things about this sport and the one thing is proof right here in the pudding is this does work. This sport works having these sponsors on these race cars and I think 5-hour is a prime example of that -- started in the Nationwide Series, had a lot of success, continued to build their brand, needed room to improve and grow bigger and better and did just that in the Cup Series. Very proud to have them on board for a full season and I think it's going to be a good one. Looking forward to it."
Have you been surprised by your early-season success? "I'm not surprised. Happy with where we're at so far. I've been in this sport long enough to know you're bound to have some bumps in the road and we've had that. That's probably what makes me most excited about our season -- we've had some adversity. We've had Phoenix with flat tires and had a bad run there. You exclude that, that 17th-place run last weekend was our worst run. If I can keep those stats going consistently all the way, it's going to be fine. I guess that's probably the neatest thing and the most exciting thing about our season so far is the consistency. We're not where we need to be yet -- obviously we've got some areas to work on. You're not winning every race and until you're doing that you can't say that, but certainly the consistency across board has been good with all three of our cars. It's been fun."
What are your thoughts on repaving Kansas Speedway? "It's just part of it. All things must come to an end and this surface has come to an end, but they've made really good provisions -- a good game plan of repaving this race track to where it doesn't take as long to age. With that progressive banking, it should help this thing have racing like we're used to right now with two- and three-wide racing, cars running around the inside, around the outside, shooting up the middle. With that progressive banking, you should be able to do that at a lot higher speed on a fresh surface, hopefully."
TY NORRIS, general manager, Michael Waltrip Racing
How important is performance on the race track to gaining sponsorship? "From the time we started at Michael Waltrip Racing, we knew we were going to have to focus on what was happening off the track, because the on-track was going to take some time. I liken it to the groups in the garage who have spent a lot of time working on their cars, and all the sudden when they've got horsepower , they're really the team to beat and I feel like that's part of what we've been able to do, so our off track is something we've focused on for all these years. Now that we are starting to get the on-track performances of what we expect it's been phenomenal. We have a measuring company, it's called IFM, it's a group that measures the media impact and value of each event, versus it's an ad equivalency value or $10 CPM, however you want to measure -- and we've seen about a four or five times increase from 2011 to 2012 for our own company. I think it was somewhere around $82 million to $20 million. The NAPA car has doubled and the Aaron's car has been about four of five times. When you talk about on-track performance, there's nothing that beats it, so you have to have that element at some point to compliment what you're doing off the track and so were very proud of what we've built on both sides. For a company like us to be in the same breath as the guys that have been established for 25 years, like the Hendricks (Hendrick Motorsports), the Roushs (Roush Fenway Racing) and the Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing), that means a lot. And there's a word that goes around our company a lot now and it's pride. That's something that it took us a while and companies like 5-hour ENERGY -- well back up -- Toyota, NAPA and Aaron's not dropping us when we were struggling was probably the biggest thing that ever happened to us. And then companies like 5-hour ENERGY looking at our company and Clint Bowyer looking at our company and we didn't have a great track record to attract them, but we told them, 'Here's what we have going. Here it is. Here's the direction we're going and if you believe in us, we'll deliver.' And for the first seven races, I feel like we've done a really nice job. We don't feel like we've arrived. We're not there yet. We've got a lot more work to do, but to say we're proud is probably an understatement."