NAPA Auto Parts is leaving Michael Waltrip Racing after the team's attempt to manipulate a race to get Martin Truex Jr. into NASCAR's version of the playoffs.
Truex's primary sponsor was in the first year of a three-year extension announced last August. The deal ran through the 2015 season.
The company issued a harsh rebuke of MWR last week after NASCAR sanctioned the organization for its shenanigans in the Sept. 7 race at Richmond. MWR was punished for deliberately manipulating the outcome of the race in an attempt to get Truex into the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
NASCAR kicked Truex out of the Chase and conducted a larger investigation that uncovered at least one other case of race manipulation.
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 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.
Owner Michael Waltrip's Statement:
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.
“To the fans and those who made their voice heard through social media, as the owner, I am responsible for all actions of MWR. I sincerely apologize for the role our team played and for the lines NASCAR has ruled were crossed by our actions at Richmond. NASCAR met with the competitors in Chicago and we all know how we are expected to race forward.”