NAPA decided to ends its relationship with MWR after the team was found to have altered the Race to the Chase outcome with their actions during the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Spotter Ty Norris called Brian Vickers to pit under green, allowing Martin Truex Jr to pass him and earn valuable points. Clint Bowyer also spun under suspicious circumstances in an attempt to keep Ryan Newman from winning the race, which would have meant Newman made the Chase and Truex Jr would have missed it.
The team was penalized and Truex Jr was replaced by Newman in the Chase.
On their Facebook page, NAPA posted:
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.
Michael Waltrip Racing also released a 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.
This news comes as a big blow to MWR, as NAPA was signed on to sponsor Truex Jr through 2015. This news surely will leave MWR scrambling to find sponsorship for Truex.
Should NAPA decide to stay in the sport — and indications are that they will — teams needing sponsorship will certainly reach out to them.
The biggest name in the sport, Dale Earnhardt Jr, may be looking for sponsorship. It has been rumored for a long time that Earnhardt Jr needs sponsorship for 2014.
National Guard is expected back, but Diet Mountain Dew is not.
Time Warner Cable recently came on board Hendrick Motorsports’s No. 88, but there has been no word on whether they will return in 2014.
Plus, Earnhardt Jr is familiar with NAPA, teaming up with then-Dale-Earnhardt-Inc-teammate Michael Waltrip for a series of NAPA commercials. So, he might be a good fit.
Kurt Busch could also be in the market for sponsorship. He is joining Stewart Haas Racing with sponsorship from Haas Automation — the company that belongs to team co-owner Gene Haas.
Surely, if SHR could bring NAPA on board, they would gladly remove Haas Automation because it would save them money.