NASCAR Cup Series
MWR Scaling Back for 2014
By Summer Bedgood – Michael Waltrip Racing is officially scaling back for the 2014 season with only two Sprint Cup Series teams and one part-time ride. The reorganization will see the disappearance of the No. 56 team with both Martin Truex Jr. and Chad Johnston being released from the organization at the end of the year. This leaves the No. 15 and the No. 55 as the full-time teams next season, with Brian Vickers as the No. 55 driver and Clint Bowyer as the No. 15 driver. Aaron’s, 5 Hour Energy, and PEAK will remain as sponsors on their respective teams.
MWR will also field a third car on a part-time basis, beginning in the Daytona 500 with Michael Waltrip as the driver. The car will be used for R&D purposes throughout the year.
“Our goals for the reorganization were twofold, firstly to improve the competitiveness of our race teams and, secondly maintain a stable organizational structure,” said co-owner Rob Kauffman. “The team’s focus has been to find that last one percent needed to move from Chase participant to Cup champion. This realignment will get us closer to that last one percent.”
This news comes just over a month removed from a Richmond incident that saw Martin Truex Jr. removed from the Chase as a result of a controversial spin by Bowyer and pistop by Vickers was seen as a manipulation of the race in order to get Truex into the Chase. When it was successful, Truex was replaced in the Chase by Ryan Newman. As a result of the controversy, Truex’s sponsor NAPA announced that they would be severing ties with the organization at the conclusion of this season.
The announcement also means that several employees at MWR will be forced to seek employment elsewhere. Though the organization says that they will still be able to retain 85 percent of their workforce, employees were notified Monday that they are free to search for a job effective immediately.
Though no official announcement has been made regarding Truex’s future, rumors are circulating that Truex may drive the No. 78 car for Furniture Row Racing.
Truex is currently 16th in the Sprint Cup Series standings with one victory.