Kauffman Focused on Finding Sponsorship
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on September 29, 2013 | 12:15 P.M. EST
MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman says he's focused on finding sponsorship to keep Martin Truex Jr. with the team. (Photo: Getty Images)
DOVER, Del. - Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, calls it a “relatively low probability’’ that his car company would be the sole primary sponsor for Martin Truex Jr.’s team next season.
With NAPA recently announcing its departure, Michael Waltrip Racing must find about $15 million in sponsorship to fund Truex’s car for next season and keep him.
Kauffman’s company, RK Motors, has served as a primary sponsor for Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers’ cars in six races this year. Kauffman said that his company could “fill in a gap’’ on Truex’s car.
That would still leave MWR needing to find sponsorship for a majority of the races next year for the third car. Waltrip said last week that he asked Truex to give the team a little time before making a move elsewhere. Truex said earlier this weekend he had nothing new to report on his future.
Kauffman, who is based in London and a founding principal in an investment group, was making his first appearance Sunday at a track since the Richmond race. NASCAR penalized MWR for manipulating the finish at Richmond. The result was that Truex fell out of the Chase and NAPA broke its three-year contract, leaving the team after this season.
While Waltrip represents the public face of MWR, Kauffman represents the money. He became a co-owner of the team in Oct. 2007 at a time the organization was facing financial issues.
“If the team breaks even and is competitive, I’m happy,’’ Kauffman said. “I’m lucky enough that I don’t get my living from NASCAR, but it has to be commercially viable. That’s the parameters I work around.
“I’m generally not a quitter. I’m not a miracle worker, but I’m going to do my level best to power through this.’’
Kauffman said that he plans to remain in Charlotte until the situation is resolved.
As for what happened at Richmond, Kauffman said: “The team made mistakes. I think we’ve made a lot of progress at Michael Waltrip Racing the past seven years. It’s obviously a big setback. We’ve paid a heavy price. Now, I’m focused on what do we need to change to improve and field competitive cars and move forward.’’
Among NASCAR’s penalties for the Richmond race was the indefinite suspension of Ty Norris, the team’s general manager.
Asked about Norris’ status with the team, Kauffman said: “Hs status is that he’s a valuable member of Michael Waltrip Racing. I think that commenting on some specific person’s role in our organization is kind of inappropriate, but Ty has been a part of the organization since the beginning and remains having an integral role.’’