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NAPA Dumps Waltrip; Cites ‘Actions’ At Richmond

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 19 2013

NAPA announced Thursday that it would end its sponsorship of one of Michael Waltrip Racings cars at the end of the year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

NAPA auto parts supplier, a long-time sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing, announced Thursday that it will part company with the NASCAR team following the 2013 season.

The reason, according to a statement released by NAPA on its Facebook page, is events which happened at Richmond International Raceway two weeks ago.

The statement said: “After thorough consideration, NAPA has made the difficult decision to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing effective December 31, 2013. NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR. We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports”

At Richmond, one of Waltrip’s drivers, Clint Bowyer, allegedly spun his car on purpose late in the race in order to bring out a caution that would enable fellow MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. – whose car is sponsored full time by NAPA – in the Sprint Cup playoff.

A second MWR driver, Brian Vickers, was ordered to the pits by the team for the same purpose.

Two days after the race, NASCAR responded by penalizing MWR with large fines and points deductions for the owner and drivers.

NASCAR then gathered teams and drivers for meetings in which the rules were discussed and strengthened.

Following Thursday’s announcement by NAPA, MWR issued the following statement: “Michael Waltrip Racing respects the decision NAPA announced today following the events at Richmond. There is no doubt, the story of Michael Waltrip Racing begins with NAPA Auto Parts, but there are many more chapters yet to be written. MWR has the infrastructure and support of Toyota for three teams plus three Chase-caliber, race-winning drivers. With the support of our corporate partners we are preparing to field three teams in 2014. MWR is a resilient organization capable of winning races and competing for the championship and that remains our sole focus.”

It has been reported that NAPA’s deal with MWR was for $17 million annually.

Team owner Michael Waltrip issued the following statement Thursday:

“NAPA has been with me from winning two Daytona 500s, to missing races with a new start-up team, and back to victory lane again. The relationship grew far past that of just a sponsor, but more of a partner and a friend. We will not be racing a NAPA car in 2014, but I have friendships that will last a lifetime.

“To the fans and those who made their voice heard through social media, as the owner, I am responsible for all actions of MWR. I sincerely apologize for the role our team played and for the lines NASCAR has ruled were crossed by our actions at Richmond. NASCAR met with the competitors in Chicago and we all know how we are expected to race forward.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 19 2013
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • Richard says:

    I believe that the true results of this decision didn’t lie ONLY with the MWR cheating, but what I believe solidified the decision was when Nationwide decided to move its sponsorship to the Cup series. This opens the door for NAPA to become the sponsor of the Nationwide series, which would be beneficial to them, NASCAR, and the teams in the series. I do agree that they needed to part ways with MWR. Why be a part of a team that has cheated not once, but twice?

  • NASCAR No Credibility says:

    I will never shop for my automotive needs at a NAPA store every again.

    Waltrips cars are on the track for one reason to get them in the chase and they did what they had to do.

    Funny how Tony Stewart won the championship two years ago only because Richard Childress racing driver Jeff Burton slowed down to allow Tony Stewart to pass him so Stewart could gain one more point in the chase championship. That one point that RCR driver Jeff Burton allowed Tony Stewart out of the Rick Hendrick satellite shop called Stewart/Hass racing allowed Tony Stewart to tie Carl Edwards in the championship points and allowed Tony Stewart to steal the championship from Carl Edwards and Roush Racing due to Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart manipulating the Phoenix race for that one point but NASCAR says nothing about that.

    • Richard says:

      I wonder how you would feel if your favorite driver was the ‘odd man out’ in the Chase solely because of manipulation such as this?

      • NASCAR No Credibility says:

        Funny NASCAR had no problems with Richard Childress Racing altering the winner of the championship.

        Two years ago Richard Childress Racings Jeff Burton was told to slow down and allow Tony Stewart to pass him so Stewart could one more point. That one manipulated point cost Carl Edwards the Sprint Cup Championship that year.

        Funny thing is both drivers were in Chevrolets and that was zero problem for NASCAR.

        But for Toyota or Ford to do the same thing to help their drivers and all of the sudden the world has just come to an end and now we must penalize everyone and make statements acting like this has never ever happened before in the history of NASCAR.

        What Waltrip Racing did was no against any rules and as a team they should have done whatever it takes to get their cars into the chase as bogus as the chase is.

        Funny how Jimmy Johnson could not buy a good finish the last four races before the chase and how that all was to the benefit of Jeff Gordon and now that the chase has started old Jimmy Johnson is back to being a top five car again.

        So for four races in a row Hendrick Motor Sports manipulated races to assist Jeff Gordon and you say nothing about the Felon Hendrick.