MWR Cutting Back to Two Teams

Michael Waltrip

By downsizing to two teams for next year, MWR will have Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers as its drivers next season. (Photo: Getty Images)


Michael Waltrip Racing will cut back to two full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup teams next year, the team announced Monday. A third car will run in only a limited number of races.

With the change, MWR has notified Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Chad Johnston that “they are free to negotiate with other teams.’’

MWR also will cut its workforce by 15 percent. Those employees affected were notified Monday. Michael Waltrip said many of those employees will remain with the team through the end of the year.

“When a company loses a third of its revenue, it’s normally a case it has to reorganize and that’s what we felt was necessary to do,’’ co-owner Rob Kauffman told Motor Racing Network.

With NAPA’s abrupt departure last month, Michael Waltrip Racing had little time to find a sponsor for next year for the third team. NAPA will leave after this season, breaking a 3-year contract it signed last year. NAPA made the decision after NASCAR penalized MWR for manipulating the finish of the Richmond race to try to get Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase.

Ty Norris, who took responsibility for ordering Brian Vickers to pit late in the Richmond race to help Truex, will remain with MWR but will no longer be the team’s general manager.

Kauffman told Motor Racing Network that Norris will become the team’s executive director of business development but have no ties to the competition side of the organization. Kauffman said that Norris no longer will be spotting.

The team also announced that Scott Miller, the team’s competition director, also will continue to be Vickers’ crew chief.

“As we go down to more of a two-car structure, I think that makes it easier,’’ Kauffman said of Miller’s duties.

Waltrip told Motor Racing Network that now was the right time to announce the organization’s changes instead of after the season.

“The sooner we make our announcement, the sooner we make our plan and get our folks headed in the direction that we race in 2014, I think that more refines our plan,’’ he said.

By downsizing to two teams for next year, MWR will have Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers. It was announced earlier Monday that Vickers will miss the rest of the season after a blood clot was discovered in his right calf. He said in a statement that doctors expect him back before the start of next season.

MWR will have three cars for the Daytona 500 with Waltrip joining Bowyer and Vickers. As for other races and who will drive the car, Kauffman said it was too early to speculate.

Monday’s announcement continues a string of blows to Michael Waltrip Racing since last mont’s Richmond race.

“You get up, you shake it off and you move forward,’’ Kauffman said of how’s he dealt with the setbacks. “We’re not quitters.’’ 

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