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This was, after all, an organization that nearly folded midway through its 2007 inaugural season. A cheating scandal involving Waltrip at the season-opening Daytona 500 nearly destroyed his career.

Facing bankruptcy and the loss of everything he had built, he was thrown a lifeline by Rob Kauffman, an investment fund manager and racing enthusiast who stepped in late in that season to pump cash into an organization nobody in their right mind should have partnered with. It literally saved MWR, and Kauffman continued to answer the call at every level of Waltrip’s plan to grow the organization into one of NASCAR’s top teams.

“We went to Rob with a plan that cost a lot of money above budgets, a lot of money that I didn’t have,” Waltrip said. “We told Rob we really felt like this plan would enable us to improve our cars so our drivers could go win races. And Rob endorsed the plan, said `I want to win, I want to be up front, I want to be a contender.’ It enabled us to build the cars that we have today that Clint is able to drive so wonderfully and Brian is able to make those calls.

“So I think the main thing that happened at MWR was we came up with a plan and Rob said, `I’ll fund that plan.’”

It has worked to perfection with MWR earning its first Chase berths this year with both Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., and on Saturday night, the organization had Bowyer, Truex and Mark Martin in the top 10 _ the third time this season all three of its cars have finished inside the top 10.

And it came on a night when manufacturer Toyota took six spots in the top 10, in a fuel mileage race, a mere two weeks after Kyle Busch blasted the manufacturer for the poor mileage the his engine got at Dover. No problem at Charlotte.

“I’ll just be honest _ at the beginning of the year I heard a lot of things, a lot of rumors about the engines, the engines, the engines,” Bowyer said, “let me tell you something, in a short amount of time, from the beginning of the year until right now, they’ve slowly and steadily become the best engine program in the sport.”