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Michael Waltrip Racing confirms drop to two full-time cars in ’14 (UPDATED)

Oct 14, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT

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UPDATE (2:30 p.m. ET): Michael Waltrip Racing has officially confirmed a drop to two full-time cars, the No. 15 5-Hour Energy and No. 55 Aaron’s Toyotas, for next year’s Sprint Cup season. The team’s workforce will be cut by 15 percent as a result.

A third MWR car will be rolled out for a partial 2014 schedule that includes the Daytona 500, which team co-owner Waltrip himself will compete in.

Additionally, driver Martin Truex Jr. and his crew chief, Chad Johnston, have been informed that they are free to negotiate with other teams. MWR executive vice president of competition Scott Miller will continue on as crew chief for the team’s No. 55 car.

“Today was about doing what we had to do, not what we wanted to do,” co-owner Rob Kauffman said in his statement. “It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season.”

The Associated Press first reported this morning that MWR would downsize to two cars in 2014 due to the departure of major team sponsor NAPA Auto Parts.

Shortly after MWR’s attempt to manipulate the finish of the Sept. 7 race at Richmond International Raceway and secure a Chase for the Sprint Cup spot for Truex, NAPA announced it would leave the squad at the conclusion of the 2013 season. 5-Hour Energy and Aaron’s, the team’s other major sponsors, have since decided to continue their support.

NAPA has been by Waltrip’s side through his two Daytona 500 victories (2001, 2003) and the inception of MWR in 2007, but also has had to face two severe controversies with him: The 2007 “jet fuel” episode that involved MWR leading up to that year’s Daytona 500 and last month’s scandal at Richmond.

The company’s call to leave MWR was perhaps the most devastating hit to the team post-Richmond, even more so than the series of penalties levied by NASCAR that resulted in Truex getting booted from the Chase, the team getting fined $300,000, and its general manager, Ty Norris, being suspended indefinitely.

  1. actjack7725 - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    I feel bad for the people behind the scenes that put their hard work into play and are now going to be out of jobs – best wishes for them that they land a spot w/ a race team that has integrity and lives by principles. I do not feel bad for MWR for losing the sponsorship of NAPA, I only wish the other two had pulled it also along w/ those drivers getting new rides. Harsh, yes. This latest behavior, behavior, wasn’t the first time MWR played dirty. Perhaps if they had to sit out for a few years it would help the ownership to remember what their sport means to many families and the kids who grow up idolizing so much of it – and how to find their way back there. NASCAR and NAPA has done so much for kids that are seriously ill w/ all their support of camps and places for them to go and be a kid. It is so pathetic that organizations like MWR decided to be selfish and put their needs ahead with a no matter what mentality to put a black mark against organizations and companies like that by being their rep on the track.

  2. billbr2013 - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    actjack7725–You must be new to NASCAR if you find what Waltrip has done as pathetic. Perhaps you have never seen the days of racing back to the yellow when teammates left teammates get their lap back and blocked those who were close in points or were driving a different make of car. You probably haven’t seen the “mystery” caution flags that NASCAR throws to bunch the cars if the race is boring. You probably never heard of crew chiefs, fabricators or engine builders taking advantage of gray areas to give their car an edge. How about allowing the start-and-parkers into the field just so they can achieve the 43 cars NASCAR has promised the promoters

    NASCAR is self-destructing. Losing a sponsor isn’t just bad for MWR it is bad for the entire sport. If France has his way, soon all the cars will be the same–probably Chevy’s built by Hendrick and everything will be even and square–just like IROC was. Wasn’t that exciting? Oh yeah–there is no IROC anymore.

    Perhaps your kids should pick someone else to idolize and learn that sports isn’t always fair.NAPA just wanted out of this dying sport and found an excuse to do it. You’ll notice they didn’t mover their sponsorship to one of the teams with more integrity and principles.

  3. zerohandicapper - Oct 14, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    NASCAR is starting to takes its last breaths. The France family has ruined the sport.

    • apexassassin - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      Sweet! Check out Aussie V8’s instead. Waaaaaay better racing and they actually use “Stock Cars”!

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