NAPA Auto Parts leaving Michael Waltrip Racing at end of year


NAPA Auto Parts is leaving Michael Waltrip Racing at seasons end, due to the actions that led to the penalties at Richmond International Raceway.

NAPA, who still had multiple years left on a contract with the No. 56 Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr. has elected to leave the sport after NASCAR ruled that the team part owned by Michael Waltrip, deliberately tried to manipulate the outcome of the race at Richmond. A late pit stop by Brian Vickers, plus a spin by teammate Clint Bowyer, helped Truex Jr. earn the final wild card spot in the Chase.

The team was fined $300,000 and each driver was docked 50 points, which in turn took Truex Jr. out of the Chase.

NAPA posted the following message on their Facebook page on Thursday morning:

“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.”

RELATED: MWR fined, penalized for actions detrimental | Sponsors release statements

NAPA has been with MWR since the team entered Sprint Cup  Series in 2007 and has been with Michael Waltrip since joining NASCAR’s premier series in 2001 with Dale Earnhardt’s team.

A few hours later, Gaylord Spencer; NAPA’s Vice President sent out the following bulletin:

“NAPA announced today that, after due consideration, it has decided to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) effective December 31, 2013. As many of you are aware, NASCAR determined that MWR attempted to manipulate race results at Richmond, Virginia, on September 7, 2013. NASCAR assessed a large fine, deducted 50 points from each of the three MWR drivers in the race and suspended or banned other members of the MWR team.

NAPA believes in fair play and we are very disappointed in the actions that led to the NASCAR penalties. We have made NAPAs decision known to MWR and posted a statement on our Facebook page. There will be significant media coverage and discussion among racing fans and we expect that our decision to terminate our sponsorship will generate additional attention. The decision was difficult, but we believe is the right thing to do.

We appreciate in advance your support of our marketing efforts. We will continue to evaluate our future position as it relates to motorsports.”

MWR put out 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.”

”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. ” Michael Waltrip said in a statement.

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