Controversy surrounding the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway has already cost Michael Waltrip Racing a sponsor.
Now, it appears it will cost them a full-time race team.
Multiple sources tell GodfatherMotorsports.com today that MWR will scale back from three full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries to two next season, after being unable to attract a new sponsor to replace departing NAPA Auto Parts. NAPA announced last month that it will end its association with MWR at the end of the 2013 season, terminating its contract two years early due to unhappiness with the team’s attempt to manipulate the outcome of a recent race at Richmond.
MWR co-owner Rob Kaufman said recently that he is unlikely to fund a full season of racing for the No. 56 Toyota, and driver Martin Truex, Jr., has been given permission to negotiate with other teams. He is expected to replace Kurt Busch at Furniture Row Racing when Busch joins Stewart Haas Racing at season’s end.
MWR currently employs more than 300 people, and scaling back one of its three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries will result in approximately a 15% reduction in workforce, or 45 employees. Sources close to the team say the No. 56 Toyota could run a part-time schedule in 2014, if sufficient sponsorship is found.
MWR has not confirmed the cutback, but sources say team employees will be informed of the move this afternoon.