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Waltrip wants Truex to stay at MWR, but won’t stop him from leaving

Sep 20, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

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One day after NAPA Auto Parts announced its departure at year’s end from the team he co-owns, Michael Waltrip will now look to weather what has already been a vicious storm by trying to keep Martin Truex Jr. in the fold.

Truex (pictured, left) was the most prominent victim in Michael Waltrip Racing’s attempt to manipulate the Sept. 7 race at Richmond International Raceway, which was supposed to set the field for the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Penalties levied by NASCAR against the team knocked the NAPA-backed Truex out of the post-season, and now that NAPA’s heading for the exits, a major shift in his career could be forthcoming.

On Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Waltrip (pictured, right) said that while he would love for Truex to stay, he would let him go if he were to find another drive for 2014 and possibly beyond.

“If he came to me tomorrow and said, ‘I got a deal to go do something,’ then obviously I would not hold him back,” Waltrip said according to Dan Gelston of The Associated Press.

“I owe him a lot for his loyalty and his passion for our team. I wouldn’t hold him back from doing something he wanted to do, but I’d like him to hang around so we can attract a sponsor and keep him in our cars.”

Truex has been with MWR since the 2010 season, when he came on to replace Waltrip after the two-time Daytona 500 winner opted to go to a part-time driving schedule. He broke a 218-race winless streak earlier this summer with a win at Sonoma.

According to Waltrip, his ownership partner at MWR, Rob Kauffman, could help fund Truex’s No. 56 machine in 2014 (Kauffman’s Charlotte-based classic car group, RK Motors, has partially backed MWR driver Clint Bowyer this season).

Kauffman indicated on Twitter that he had been asked by Waltrip about such a possibility:

As for MWR’s remaining major sponsors, Waltrip is expected to have a meeting this weekend with the president of 5-Hour Energy, which primarily backs Bowyer and his No. 15 Toyota.

Meanwhile, lease-to-own giant Aaron’s, which is on the No. 55 Toyota of Brian Vickers, has Tweeted its support of the team, saying that “we remain dedicated to MWR, to NASCAR, and to the fans.”

But so many things remain up in the air for Waltrip and his franchise, which has been rocked by tremendous scandal for the second time in its short history.

The aftermath from Richmond continues to hammer at MWR’s future, and has now delivered two major blows on both the competition and financial side. And that’s not even mentioning the damage to its reputation in the eyes of the fans.

For his part, Waltrip said he’ll be aiming to regain the trust of the sport’s supporters.

“We will race forward with respect and appreciation for being able to be here,” he said.

  1. captaingroovy - Sep 21, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    The best thing Martin Truex Jr. could do for himself and his career is run away from MWR at the first decent offer or maybe even the first bad offer that he gets. I say this for two reasons MWR the first is if Martin Truex stays at MWR any longer than he has too he is telling NASCAR, his fans, and potential future sponsors that he is as Morally Bankrupt as Michael Waltrip, Ty Norris, Clint Bowyer and Michael’s partner Rob Kauffman. This may be perfect 20/20 hindsight but in truth not really MWR should have fired Ty Norris after NASCAR’s penalties if not before. Short of that Michael Waltrip should have never said in an interview had I been standing next to Ty Norris on the spotters stand I would not have stopped him. He also should have not said that I have complete confidence in Ty Norris to the public. He should have said I am disappointed in Ty Norris decision making process that Saturday night to the public. The second reason that Martin Truex needs to leave MWR is that I do not think that he is getting the equipment or support he needs to win or place consistently highly in races week in and week out. Could it be that he is not a good enough driver to do this we will truly never knows until he goes racing for another high quality team but one thing’s for sure is that if MWR does not have full sponsorship for all three teams all 3 teams performance will suffer and in the only thing MWR cars will do is make laps around the track rarely if ever winning any races and only finishing now and then in the top ten.

    Let face it MWR entered into NASCAR with a major stain of shame upon them when they were caught fuel doping at the team’s very first race at Daytona 500 on the team owners car. Talk about cranial anal insertion get caught cheating in one of the NASCAR big hands off areas Fuel, Tires, and engine size. If I were NAPA I would have kicked MWR to the side back then like a cheap suite. To get busted for what in any sport you play with a ball would be classified as point shaving and to be so obvious about it. All I can say is MWR can be thankful that most fans did not hand out the fines and penalties because I would have parked Bowyer for 5 races plus 100 points and 100K. Vickers I would have fined 100K but I am not sure docked any points and Truex I would have done nothing too because he did nothing wrong and Ty Norris would be banned for life and 250K in fines but that is me.

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