MWR Scaling Back, Truex Out For 2014
CORNELIUS, N.C. – With the stigma from the cheating scandal at Richmond Int’l Raceway still lingering, Michael Waltrip Racing has announced it will scale back its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series efforts for the 2014 season.
MWR will field the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota for Brian Vickers and the No. 15 5-hour Energy/PEAK Toyota for Clint Bowyer in its pursuit of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The team will run a third R&D car in select events during 2014, including the Daytona 500 with Michael Waltrip behind the wheel.
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota and his crew chief, Chad Johnston, each have been notified they are free to negotiate with other teams. Scott Miller, the team’s executive vice president of competition, will continue his role as crew chief of the No. 55 team into the 2014 season.
“Our goals for the reorganization were twofold, firstly to improve the competitiveness of our race teams and, secondly maintain a stable organizational structure,” said co-owner Rob Kauffman. “The team’s focus has been to find that last one percent needed to move from Chase participant to Cup champion. This realignment will get us closer to that last one percent.”
The reorganization enabled MWR to retain more than 85 percent of its current workforce. Those whose positions were affected by the moves were notified Monday morning.
“Today was about doing what we had to do not what we wanted to do,” Kauffman added. “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.”
“We have very strong support from Toyota, Toyota Racing Development, 5-hour Energy, PEAK, Aaron’s, AAA Mid-Atlantic and other partners who enable us to compete at the highest level,” said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. “We are confident that with two teams and a very active test team, our competiveness will take a step forward. We will also continue to do a great job for our partners off the track, which has always been a cultural staple for our organization.
“Rob and I deeply appreciate everyone who has helped build MWR into a race winning team and we are dedicated to continuing our pursuit of excellence on and off the track.”
MWR has been the target of intense scrutiny since being penalized by NASCAR for trying to manipulate the finish of the Sept. 7 race at Richmond in an attempt to get Truex into the Chase.
It started when Bowyer spun to bring out a caution flag late in the race. Many believe the spin to have been deliberate, but NASCAR was unable to prove that allegation. That spin set in motion a number of events, which led to a NASCAR investigation.
NASCAR eventually fined MWR $300,000, suspended team general manager Ty Norris indefinitely and kicked Truex out of the Chase. NAPA, a partner of Waltrip’s since his first Daytona 500 victory in 2001, later pulled its sponsorship from Truex’s team following the conclusion of the 2013 season.