NAPA Dumps Waltrip; Cites ‘Actions’ At Richmond
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
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.”4 Comments