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Big changes from last year for Bowyer and Edwards

Associated Press Modified: October 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm •  Published: October 20, 2012

The contrast is Bowyer, from 90 minutes away in Emporia. He's having the best season of his career with a team he wasn't even sure he wanted to join.

Bowyer had six good years with Richard Childress Racing and wanted to stay there, but couldn't work out an extension last season. With so few open seats, fledgling MWR persuaded Bowyer to take a chance on them because they had a plan in place toward becoming a legitimate player in NASCAR.

That leap of faith may be the best decision Bowyer's ever made.

His win last Saturday night at Charlotte was his career-best third of the season and edged him back into the title race. He goes into Sunday's race ranked fourth in the standings, 28 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.

Popular in the garage but somewhat overlooked by the mainstream NASCAR fan base, Bowyer and his electric energy are finally getting some attention.

But earning respect isn't important to Bowyer. He's instead savoring this time with MWR, which earned its first Chase berths in company history this year with Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., and has suddenly grown into a NASCAR's current "it" team.

It's a massive accomplishment for an organization that spent its first years struggling to make races, and now six years later finds itself in a championship battle.

"As far as respect, whatever else, I don't care," Bowyer said. "That doesn't drive me. Enjoying the moment and being in Victory Lane with this group of guys — that's what drives me. That's so much fun to be there. That's what everybody goes to the track for — to see those faces that have been trying so hard over the years to be in Victory Lane and enjoying that.

"It doesn't get any better than that."