News & Media

Notebook: Miller, Bowyer now share mutual admiration at MWR

December 22, 2011, Dave Rodman,

Ragan locks in one deal; Biffle prepares to ride the waves with furry companions

Longtime Richard Childress Racing competition kingpin Scott Miller was honored when Michael Waltrip Racing's Cal Wells approached him about becoming MWR's chief competition executive. But when MWR hired former RCR driver Clint Bowyer to pilot its third full-time Sprint Cup entry in 2012, it about sent Miller over the moon.

In the final month of the 2011 season, Miller had already firmly landed at MWR as executive vice president of competition. He then slid into the role of Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief for the last three races and engineered two top-10 finishes.

Miller and Bowyer during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway.

"Having somebody that I trust and I know and that I've worked alongside is a big deal."


Miller said last week that Bowyer tried to remain with RCR, but was pleased when Bowyer made the move to MWR.

"When MWR became an option, that was obviously very exciting to me because I enjoy working with [Bowyer]," Miller said. "He's a very talented race car driver, really a good guy to be around, promotes harmony within a team because he's a fun guy. He's a pleasure to work with and it's just lucky for me that the MWR thing ended up working out for him."

Miller said that as much as he enjoyed working with Truex and as much as he's anticipating getting to work with Mark Martin for the first time at a pre-Daytona test session on Jan. 11, he's really enthused about continuing his relationship with Bowyer.

And Miller said he had no trouble if the public perception of Bowyer might be that he's happy-go-lucky and sometimes even on the verge of being a goofy prankster. Miller knows how competitive and how well-respected Bowyer is.

"I know the public would think he'd be a fun guy to be around but from a racing perspective, he has that respect inside [the garage]. The public persona of the fun-loving guy might not be synonymous with the fierce competitor that he is. The fact that he's as intense as he is behind the wheel of a race car may get lost, but he's a tough guy and he's hard for those guys to deal with -- he's really good."

Bowyer is looking forward to seeing at least one familiar face, though by all accounts his team-building first test last week at Walt Disney World Speedway went way better than expected.

"Having somebody that I trust and I know and that I've worked alongside is a big deal," Bowyer said of Miller. "Being there and manning the ship and kind of organizing this organization into something that I was used to -- kind of having those same organization guidelines that I was used to, I think that will be a big benefactor to me going into this, knowing how [Miller's] going to structure things and already being on the same page with that."

* Watch: Bowyer tests at Disney

Smith testing out West

Furniture Row Racing has proven that being based in Denver, Colo., is no detriment to succeeding in the Sprint Cup Series, and last week the team's activity proved, to some degree, why attitude and commitment count for a lot at NASCAR's premier level.

While NASCAR's efforts to preclude the propensity of teams to tandem draft at the circuit's biggest speedways is occupying a lot of minds, the 2012 introduction of electronic fuel injection is also a concern. So last week, Furniture Row and its pilot, Regan Smith, tested Tuesday at Pikes Peak International Raceway and on Wednesday, for a day at High Plains Raceway, east of Denver.

Ragan locks in one deal

David Ragan's hopes for a quality Sprint Cup Series ride for 2012 have become almost a minute-to-minute chore, with A.J. Allmendinger's selection for the Penske Racing No. 22 Dodge closing one door, but seemingly opening another possibility for Ragan at Richard Petty Motorsports.

But Ragan made one thing certain for 2012 when he successfully proposed marriage to longtime girlfriend Jacquelyn Ann Butler. Ragan, a five-year Cup Series veteran from Unadilla, Ga., and Butler, of Greenwood, S.C.; have set a 2012 wedding date of Dec. 15 at a Charlotte-area church.

Interestingly enough both won races in 2011: Ragan won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and Butler won the Oct. 15 Better-Half Dash charity race in Bandolero cars at Charlotte.

* Allmendinger to drive the No. 22, hopes to take 'next step' with Penske

Biffle on parade with pets

Sprint Cup veterans Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman share a common interest in the welfare of pets, for example, with their annual charity pet calendars featuring NASCAR drivers and their furry companions.

But next month, Biffle will help Natural Balance Pet Foods make a splash in the upcoming 123rd Rose Parade on Jan. 2, when he rides on Natural Balance's 116-foot float. After extensive training, the dogs on the float will actually surf on 65-foot long waves in more than 6,600 gallons of water on a float weighing more than 100,000 pounds. A specially designed wave machine is incorporated into the design of the float and creates a wave every minute.

"I've heard a lot about this year's float and I've seen video of the floats from the last couple of years," Biffle said. "I can't wait to see [dogs surfing]. It was definitely an honor to be asked to ride on the Natural Balance float because we share the same passion for the well-being of animals."

*Learn more about the float