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NASCAR's Waltrip team cuts back; Brian Vickers out for season

In a tumultuous day at Michael Waltrip Racing, the NASCAR team said it would scale back its operations next year and that driver Brian Vickers was lost for the rest of this season.

MWR said Monday that it would field only two cars full time in the Sprint Cup series in 2014 -- the No. 15 car driven by Clint Bowyer and the No. 55 driven by Vickers -- compared with three cars this year.

The third car, the No. 56 Toyota currently driven by Martin Truex Jr., will compete on a limited schedule next year, and MWR said Truex was free to look for another full-time ride elsewhere for 2014.

MWR, which is based in Cornelius, N.C., said the cutback also would mean a reduction of about 50 jobs, or 15% of its workforce.

All of which is more fallout from a scandal that rocked the team last month.

NASCAR found that MWR's cars tried to manipulate the outcome of the Sept. 7 race in Richmond, Va., to help Truex qualify for the sport's Chase for the Cup title playoff.

Truex was dropped from the Chase after being penalized by NASCAR, and his primary sponsor, the NAPA auto parts chain, said it would drop its multimillion-dollar sponsorship after this year because of MWR's actions.

"Today was about doing what we had to do, not what we wanted to do," MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said in a statement.

Vickers, meanwhile, was found to have "a small blood clot" in his right calf that required the driver to be put on blood-thinning medications, ending his season, the team said.

The 29-year-old Vickers, who had suffered a blood-clotting condition that sidelined him for part of 2010, was expected to be back in the car before next season starts. MWR had announced in August that Vickers would drive the No. 55 car full time in 2014.

"If there's anything to be positive about with today's news, it's that this is only a temporary setback," Vickers said in a statement.

Waltrip himself is scheduled to drive the No. 55 at the next race, at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Sunday. MWR said Vickers' replacement for the final four races of the season would be named later.


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