Contract Status: Drivers 2015; Primary Sponsor: 2015; Manufacturer: 2014
300th start for Vickers: #55 Aaron's Dream Machine driver Brian Vickers visits one of racing's most historic venues this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday's 400-mile race. The 30-year-old Vickers will make history no matter how his Michael Waltrip Racing team performs on the famed 2.5-mile oval. Sunday's race marks Vickers' 300th Sprint Cup Series start in a career that began with a 33rd-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 11, 2003. Only 11 drivers from the 43-car field in that race still have fulltime rides in 2014. Vickers also has history on his side on Sunday. Five drivers have won in their 300th Sprint Cup start including a driver in each of the last three seasons.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(7-23-2014)
Pit coaching change at MWR: This past week a pit crew coaching change was made at Michael Waltrip Racing. Long time coach Walt Smith has taken over after being out of the sport for a few months. Smith is a veteran to pit road and has spent over 20 years as a pit crew member and coach. For the last few years Smith was at Hendrick Motorsports with the #5 and #24 teams and will now take over the #55 and #15.(Pit Talks)(7-9-2014)
Sprint Cup teams form Race Team Alliance UPDATE2: A group of nine multi-car teams participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) announced today they have formed a collaborative business association called the Race Team Alliance (RTA). The purpose of the organization is to create an open forum for the teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote, and grow the sport of stock car racing. The organization intends to open up its membership to all full time NSCS teams in the very near future. In providing a vehicle for the teams to work together, the organization creates for the first time a single entity to engage with stakeholders on creative ways to market and experience the power of the sport's teams and drivers. As part of its focus, the RTA also plans to explore innovative ways to harness the combined purchasing power and scale of the teams' operations to drive efficiencies in costs. Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has been elected the first chair of the RTA.
"With the encouragement of NASCAR and the manufacturers, the teams have met in various forms and forums over the years to explore areas of common interest. This simply formalizes what was an informal group." said Kauffman. "The key word is 'Collaboration'. We all have vested interests in the success and popularity of stock car racing. By working together and speaking with a single voice, it should be a simpler and smoother process to work with current and potential groups involved with the sport. Whether it be looking for industry-wide travel partners or collaborating on technical issues - the idea is to work together to increase revenue, spend more efficiently, and deliver more value to our partners."
The following teams are the executive members of the RTA: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motor Sports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.(RTA)(7-7-2014)
UPDATE: Statement from NASCAR: "We are aware of the alliance concept the team owners have announced, but have very few specifics on its structure or purpose. It is apparently still in development and we're still learning about the details so it would be inappropriate to comment right now. NASCAR's mission, as it has always been, is to create a fair playing field where anyone can come and compete. Our job is to support and strengthen all of the teams, large and small, across all of our series and we'll continue to do that. NASCAR is a unique community with hundreds of stakeholders. They all have a voice and always will."(NASCAR)(7-7-2014)
UPDATE 2: #55-Brian Vickers doesn't know much about the newly formed Race Team Alliance, but he knows plenty about the man who's running it. The RTA, whose creation was announced Monday, is a business alliance of nine Sprint Cup teams that is being chaired by Rob Kauffman, who is the co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers, who drives the #55 Toyota for MWR in NASCAR's premier series, said he had "heard little things here and there" about the RTA but not much despite his proximity to Kauffman. "I just get in the car every Friday and just drive as fast as I can," he said Tuesday during a conference call with the news media. "I don't know enough, to be honest with you, about (the RTA) to have any opinion. I think any of those questions are better addressed to Rob or the ownership group. But in general, you know, I have a lot of respect for the owners in this industry. If they feel there's a need, then there's probably a need for it, so I wish them all the best."(USA Today)(7-9-2014)
MWR & Aaron's to honor Florida State at Daytona: Brian Vickers' #55 Toyota will carry a special paint scheme Saturday night honoring Florida State University's 2013 BCS National Championship football team. The garnet and gold paint scheme on the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota will include the FSU BCS National Championship logo on the hood. Vickers will also wear a special FSU driver uniform for the race. Fans at FSU's April 12 Spring Game saw the car unveiling and watched a special message from Vickers on the video board. Vickers drove a special paint scheme honoring the University of Louisville's national championship basketball team at Kentucky Speedway last year. Aaron's and MWR have honored Alabama and Auburn national football championships at Talladega Superspeedway four times since 2009.(Michael Waltrip Racing), see an image of the car on the #55 team paint schemes page.(7-2-2014)
MWR, RCR to test at New Hampshire: Michael Waltrip Racing and Richard Childress Racing will be looking for the inside track on the Camping World RV Sales 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 13 when they visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a test and tune session on July 1 and 2. Defending July NHMS race winner #55-Brian Vickers, two-time NHMS winner #15-Clint Bowyer and four-time NHMS winner #66-Jeff Burton will all be logging laps for MWR on the 1.058-mile oval. The two-day session also marks the first time the famed #3 will race around the Magic Mile, as rookie RCR driver Austin Dillon will join teammates #27-Paul Menard and three-time NHMS winner #31-Ryan Newman at the testing. The grandstands will be open and free of charge to the public from 9:00am-5:00pm both days.(NHMS)(6-26-2014)
#55 Crewman competes in Touch Alcatraz 'n' Go: Michael Waltrip Racing #55 rear tire carrier, Blake Haugland, swam in the world swim challenge, Touch Alcatraz 'n' Go, on Saturday, June 21st. The event consists of swimming from San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz Island and back. On Sunday, Haugland goes back to his rear tire carrier,duties for Brian Vickers. More info at waterworldswim.com or Blake Haugland Facebook.(6-22-2014)
Vickers crashes in Kentucky test, is OK: #55-Brian Vickers crashed at Kentucky Speedway Wednesday during a Goodyear Tire test. The #55 Aaron's Toyota crashed in turn 3, supposedly a right front wheel came apart. Vickers reports he is sore but OK and has already logged 10 laps in other car.(Brian Vickers Twitter / Michael Waltrip Racing Twitter)(5-21-2014)
MWR & Aaron's to honor Florida State at Daytona in July: Florida State University's trophy case holds lots of hardware, but none for motorsports. Aaron's and Brian Vickers plan to change that. Vickers' #55 Aaron's Toyota will carry a special paint scheme honoring FSU's 2013 BCS National Championship football team when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway on July 5. The garnet and gold paint scheme on the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota will include the FSU BCS National Championship logo on the hood. Vickers will also wear a special FSU driver uniform for the race.
"Everyone in America knows about Florida State's tradition of success especially in athletics," said Vickers. "Aaron's and I really want to continue that tradition at Daytona in July and give Seminole fans a chance to see their car and colors celebrate in victory lane. I'm excited to be representing my home state on the car for Daytona. We're hoping it will give us a 'home field' advantage we need."
Fans at FSU's April 12 Spring Game will see the car unveiling and watch a special video message from Vickers on the videoboard. FSU will collect hoods from the race car for display at block parties, road trips and The Jimbo Fisher Call-In Show throughout the 2014 football season.
Aaron's said it was natural to honor Florida State at the Daytona race. "Aaron's is proud to feature the Florida State football championship paint scheme on the #55 Dream Machine at Daytona International Speedway," said Rich Lamprey, Aaron's Director of Sports and Event Marketing. We have a history of showcasing collegiate championships on our racecars to highlight our brand's involvement in collegiate sports. We hope that NASCAR fans and college sports fans alike will appreciate the FSU paint scheme, and we look forward to Brian bringing the Seminoles to the checkered flag in Daytona." Vickers drove a special paint scheme honoring the University of Louisville's national championship basketball team at Kentucky Speedway last year. Aaron's and MWR have honored Alabama and Auburn national football championships at Talladega Superspeedway four times since 2009.(MWR), see an image of the scheme on the #55 Team Schemes page.(4-9-2014)
Under Armour enters NASCAR with Hendrick & MWR: The sporting goods company, Under Armour, has signed multiyear sponsorships with Hendrick Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing. It becomes the official apparel provider for both teams, outfitting everyone from the pit crew to the front office in Under Armour-branded apparel. The deals don't include the teams' drivers, and financial terms weren't available. Last year, Under Armour signed a one-year, trial sponsorship with Hendrick Motorsports and outfitted the team's pit crews. It opted to expand that deal this year with a three-year extension that will see it outfit not only the pit crews but the rest of Hendrick's 500 employees. It provides everything from footwear and hats to polos and pullovers. It also has branding on Hendrick pit crew members' fire suits (Under Armour does not produce fire suits) and on the team's pit wall banners, haulers, pit box and pit toolbox. The deal doesn't include Hendrick's drivers - #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson or #5-Kasey Kahne - but Under Armour does have rights to use their likeness as well as the likeness of their car and number, which it could use on apparel.
Under Armour signed with Michael Waltrip Racing because it saw similarities between its identity as an upstart brand that's challenged established apparel companies and the team's identity as a relatively new, gritty team that's pushing its way into the upper echelon of NASCAR. Terms of the two-year sponsorship are similar to the deal with Hendrick. Under Armour will supply pit crew apparel and team and executive apparel and receive the same mix of pit assets it is getting from Hendrick. It also will become the presenting sponsor of a new athletic facility and gym that MWR built at its headquarters in Cornelius, N.C., which has been branded as the MWR Performance Center Presented by Under Armour. The deal is the first apparel sponsorship for MWR. The team previously bought its apparel from Oakley.(SportsBusiness Journal)(4-1-2014)
The decal ran by Michael Waltrip Racing cars (#15, #55) at Martinsville
on March 30th to honor Bobby Waltrip, Darrell and Micheal's brother
MWR cars paying tribute to Bobby Waltrip: Bobby Waltrip, the middle brother of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip and NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner and FOX announcer Michael Waltrip, died of natural causes last Sunday. The middle Waltrip formerly managed Darrell's race team and was best known as a promoter and announcer of go-kart races in both the American Karting Association and the World Karting Association. To memorialize Bobby, the two Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas of #15-Clint Bowyer and #55-Brian Vickers are carrying the name "Bobby Waltrip" over their respective driver's doors, as well as decals honoring his memory this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.(FoxSports)(3-29-2014)
Teams complete tires test at Sonoma Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams completed a rain-dampened two-day Goodyear tire test at Sonoma Raceway on Wednesday. Intermittent rain fell at the raceway both Tuesday and Wednesday, but #9-Marcos Ambrose, #18-Kyle Busch, #24-Jeff Gordon, #14-Tony Stewart and #55-Brian Vickers were able to log approximately nine hours of track time over the two days. "Goodyear had a pretty stout tire here last year, and they want to improve on it if they can. They came here with some different compounds to try, and a good mix of teams and drivers to get feedback," said Ambrose, who started from the pole in Sonoma in 2012. "We also get a chance to set up the car up with the new technical regulations, which is helpful for the team. Ninety-five percent of the time was getting tires dialed in for Goodyear, and then the rest of the time was for us to see what we'll need when we come back." The two-day test marked the first Goodyear Sprint Cup Series tire test of the year, and is currently the only scheduled road-course test. Goodyear worked closely with the teams and drivers to develop a durable race package while giving teams the appropriate amount of grip.(Sonoma)(3-27-2014)
Vickers bringing awareness to blot clots with special scheme: Brian Vickers has overcome blood clots twice in his life. He's taking steps to make sure others are just as fortunate. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver will pilot the #55 TREATMYCLOT.com Aaron's Toyota in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway. He'll also kickoff Blood Clot Awareness Month with Janssen to enhance the public's understanding about the problem that twice sidelined his racing career. Vickers missed most of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season recovering from blood clots in his legs and around his lungs. He returned to competition in 2011 and earned his third career victory driving the Aaron's Dream Machine in July 2013. In October, the discovery of a blood clot in his right calf, after wearing a walking boot, sidelined him for the final four races. He's returned full-time in 2014 on a mission to win races and help race fans know the warning signs and treatment for blood clots. Brian Vickers: "I want people to be mindful of what the signs and symptoms are. Visit www.TREATMYCLOT.COM to learn about the warning signs and if you experience any of the signs or symptoms talk to your doctor. That's the best thing to do. I'm always mindful and take precautions. When you're taking long flights, you stand up and you walk around. That's not just for me, everyone should do that. Obviously I keep an eye out for signs and symptoms, but my last incident was a provoked incident. I had to wear an ankle brace for a month, which is known to create clots. In those situations in the future, I will be more mindful and probably more careful and maybe try to get ahead of it. Other than that I just live my life and go racing."(Michael Waltrip Racing), see an image of the car on the #55 team paint schemes page.(3-19-2014)
Drivers say qualifying format creates dangers: NASCAR's new knockout qualifying format has been universally hailed as more exciting and interesting than the old single-car system. But for the second week in a row, drivers also said it's extremely dangerous. Since the only legal way for teams to cool their cars is to drive slowly around the track, there's a dramatic speed difference between drivers making qualifying runs and those driving as if they're in a construction zone.
"Riding around the bottom - we've got to do it, it's the only way to keep the engine cool - but that has got to be the most dangerous thing I've ever done in racing," #55-Brian Vickers said after Friday's session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "(#36-Reed Sorenson) went by me at 170 mph faster than I was going. Had he slipped or hit me, I'd be done. It would be so bad."
Teams need to cool their engines between attempts at fast laps in order to keep their cars from overheating. Teams are not allowed to cool their cars on pit road in between runs because it would require opening the hood to attach a cooling box. NASCAR does not want teams to make adjustments on pit road during the knockout sessions and since policing every open hood would be difficult, it is not permitted. As a result, the disparity in speed created some dicey situations - several of which occurred again Friday.
#15-Clint Bowyer, who qualified third, said he nearly collided with #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. during one run and called for a change due to the "dangerous" difference in speed. "We've got to stop that," he said. "...I about smoked him. That's not the guy you want to hit at a 140 mph deficit. (A collision is) going to hurt me and it might hurt Dale Jr., and that would be bad for business."
#1-Jamie McMurray, who was among the drivers to raise the safety issue at Phoenix, said he texted NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton a few days ago and was told, "Let's give it a couple weeks and just see what plays out." [NASCAR spokesman Kerry] Tharp echoed that sentiment in a statement to USA TODAY Sports on Friday. "We're only two race weekends in with the new qualifying format," he said. "It's something new and it's something that will take time to get used to. We will continue to look at it."(USA Today)(3-8-2014)
Owners Points Updates: NASCAR announced that it has approved points for three new ownership groups. The points from the #32 car owned by Frank Stoddard last season will go to Go Fas Racing. That features the new partnership between Stoddard's Fas Lane Racing and Archie St. Hilarie's Go Green Racing.
The points from the #55 Michael Waltrip car last season will go to the #66 car of Robinson Racing Team. That car is being shared by MWR and Jay Robinson Racing.
That doesn't mean the #55 car at MWR driven by Brian Vickers this year will be without points. The team is moving the points earned from the #56 car with Martin Truex Jr. last year to the car Vickers will drive this year.
Also, the #87 car formerly known as NEMCO Motorsports will be known as Identity Ventures Racing, which is a partnership of Jay Robinson, Joe Nemechek, Troy Stafford, James Hamilton and John Burns. It will use the points (40th) earned from Nemechek's #87 car last year.(MRN)(2-13-2014)
Brian Vickers Cleared by Doctors, awaits NASCAR ok: #55-Brian Vickers has been cleared to drive after missing the final five races of last season because of a blood clot - the second time since 2010 a blood clot forced him out the car. Vickers missed much of the 2010 season after blood clots were discovered in both lungs and his left leg in May. He was placed on blood thinning medication and didn't race again that year. He also had heart surgery in July 2010 to repair a small hole. Vickers' latest blood clot came after he suffered a mid-foot sprain in a crash at Bristol in August - about a month after he won at New Hampshire. He wore a boot to help the sprain but that caused the blood clot by constricting his right calf. He was put on blood thinning medication, ending his season.
Vickers said doctors have told him that there's a "low percentage'' that he'll get another blood clot if it is "unprovoked.'' Vickers noted that his most recent blood clot was the result of the boot he wore. Had it not been for that, he likely wouldn't have suffered a blood clot last year.
Now that he's cleared, Vickers will test for Michael Waltrip Racing at New Smyrna Speedway next week. This year marks his first full NASCAR Sprint Cup season since 2011. That's also the last time he ran in the Daytona 500. "To get back down there is going to be special,'' Vickers said Thursday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. "I'm curious to see if it's going to feel the same this year, that excitement, that energy and that love, as it did the first time I went to Daytona. I have a feeling it will. I think being gone for so long and going through so much since the last time I was there, it's going to have a similar feel to me. That's a great feeling.'' It's not just Daytona that excites the 30-year-old Vickers, who had run a partial schedule the past two seasons. "It's not often that you hear a racecar driver excited about testing,'' he said. "I'm really looking forward to testing next week. I'm really looking forward to getting out there and getting in a car and making laps. That's something I haven't done in three months.''(Motor Racing Network)(1-30-2014)
NASCAR reinstates Ty Norris: NASCAR announced Thursday that it has reinstated Ty Norris, an executive with Michael Waltrip Racing. Norris had been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR last Sept. 9 as part of the penalties assessed to MWR following the sanctioning body's review of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sept. 7 at Richmond International Raceway. Norris remains on indefinite NASCAR probation.(NASCAR)
AND Statement from Ty Norris, Executive Vice President at Michael Waltrip Racing: "I appreciate NASCAR's action today and respect their position. I am focused forward and dedicated to the success of Michael Waltrip Racing and the continued growth of a sport that has been my home for the past 24 years."(1-23-2014)
New crew chief named for #55 team: Michael Waltrip Racing announced Billy Scott will serve as Brian Vickers' crew chief on the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. "Billy was the unanimous selection by everyone here at MWR including the crew, drivers, and ownership," said Waltrip. "We feel like engineering is one of our strongest assets and with that type of talent in house it was easy to promote from within. Billy has earned this opportunity because he has helped develop and refine the engineering tools that we use every day to make our cars faster."
Scott, 36, began racing motorcycles as a 5-year-old and stock cars when he turned 15. He worked in the truck series as a mechanic before he returned to college to obtain an engineering degree. After graduating in 2005 Scott worked at Robert Yates Racing and began as an engineer at MWR in 2008. He has served exclusively as the No. 55 team's lead engineer the last two seasons. "I'm honored, but I also know this is a big responsibility," said Scott on the announcement. "We have very high expectations for the Aaron's Dream Machine in 2014. Brian has been incredible to work with and is a winner, so we can't wait to get 2014 started."
Scott Miller, MWR's Executive Vice President of Competition, performed crew chief duties on the #55 since Rodney Childers departure in August. Miller will return to overseeing all of MWR's competition effort, which includes the #55, Clint Bowyer's #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota and the #66 [was #56] Toyota shared by Waltrip and Jeff Burton. Vickers raced the #55 on a part-time basis for MWR in 2012 and 2013. He posted his third career victory at New Hampshire on July 14.
"I've been around Billy the last two seasons and he's demonstrated a strong knowledge of what makes these cars go fast," said Vickers. "I have a lot of faith in Billy. This is one of the strongest teams I've had and that's a great feeling heading into a new season." In August, Aaron's announced a multi-year agreement to sponsor Vickers in the #55 beginning at the Feb. 23 Daytona 500. Aaron's will sponsor each race during the length [2 years] of the agreement.(MWR)(12-19-2013)
Brian Vickers talks about deep vein thrombosis: #55-Brian Vickers has a condition known as deep vein thrombosis and has suffered from two blood clots in his leg. Vickers and Jack Ansell, MD with New York University School of Medicine joined the FOX43 morning team, to talk about the connection between the winter months and the increase in blood clots. See the video at FOX43.(12-19-2013)
MWR to run three cars in 2014: Despite NAPA's decision not to return to MWR in 2014, and driver Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Chad Johnston opting to move on, team owner Rob Kauffman told FOXSports.com that three teams will operate out of the shop next year. "We'll have two full-time cars and a third car that will run part-time," Kauffman said. "It's really kind of as simple as that. It's not going to run for the championship - so it will have the flexibility to try stuff - but the same as everybody else has to pass tech each week and make sure everything's correct. But it is a third car. It will help us keep the core of the team a little bit more substantial by keeping the engineering staff full, the pit crews are still able to keep in practice and keep going through the motions, so if in '15 we can scale back up to a third car, the infrastructure would still be in place. "It's kind of a little bit of a diet, then maybe you can get back to a playing weight by '15." When asked who the driver would be for the third car, Kauffman said coyly, "There is one." Pressed whether that driver was Jeff Burton, he replied, "There is a list."(FoxSports)(11-10-2013)
Female crew member leaves MWR: Christmas Abbott, who in February became the only woman employed in NASCAR as a full-time pit crew member, has left her Michael Waltrip Racing team without ever changing a tire in a race. Abbott's departure was confirmed on Tuesday night by a MWR spokesman. The team declined to release any other details regarding her departure. In February, Abbott, an elite-level fitness athlete whose journey to become a full-time pit crew member has been well-chronicled, was named to MWR's Sprint Cup organization's traveling pit support team. Abbott, however, never made it into a race with the MWR organization and in recent months wasn't seen at the track on race day.(Charlotte Observer)(10-30-2013)
Brian Vickers says he will return in 2014: #55-Brian Vickers met with the media Sunday morning at Martinsville Speedway:
How are you feeling?
Vickers: "I feel like I could drive a race car, I just can't. I feel great. Still training, still exercising. I can't complain. I've got a great life and family and friends. I'm frustrated and I've been bummed since obviously all this happened again. I'm just kind of looking forward. Things happen in life -- that's part of it. You just keep fighting and have faith. That's all you can really do. I'm going to be out for three months and back in time for Daytona to race for a championship."
Have doctors explained why this happened and how long you will have to deal with it?
Vickers: "The answer is yes.. After the crash at Bristol, I had a mid-foot sprain and I was wearing a boot to kind of immobilize my right ankle to help with that foot sprain and that boot is what caused the clot. Pretty much right where the boot kind of constricted my calf. We know what caused it. I think the good news for me in both situations -- the first one and this one is that there were specific events -- kind of the perfect storm so to speak that created the clots. Because of that, I've never spontaneously produced a clot at random. That creates a completely different situation than someone who is just throwing clots all the time randomly. Going forward, pretty much every doctor I've met with has pretty much had the exact same conclusion, which is three months of anti-coagulation and then you're off. Whether I race or not, whether I decide to go racing or not is kind of irrelevant, the decision would still be the same.
What keeps you out of the car?
Vickers "It's not the clot and it's not that I can't race on blood thinners it's just that I can't crash. As long as I can promise my doctors that I will not crash then they're fine with me racing. Unfortunately, there's a lot of moving parts in a car that I can't control and 42 competitors that I can't control. I can't firmly commit to that so he would rather me not race. The risk is not even so much external injury like a cut or something, it's really more of an internal injury. They wouldn't be able to stop the bleeding."
(Toyota Racing PR)(10-28-2013)
MWR unveils new plan UPDATE2: Michael Waltrip Racing majority owner Rob Kauffman told FOXSports.com on Sunday he hopes to unveil the company's reorganizational plan "relatively soon." The moves will come following MWR's penalties for attempts to manipulate the outcome of the Richmond International Raceway race on Sept. 7 and the subsequent announcement from NAPA to pull its sponsorship from the #56 Toyota team. "We're working on an announcement," Kauffman said. "I think it's been a week since we last spoke, so we're trying to get it all together. But we have a couple of good options. I think rather than use the word 'release,' I'd prefer to say allow guys to explore all their options - just as we're exploring all of our options. Is that exactly negative? I think it's the right thing to allow people to investigate all their options. A lot of these contracts have provisions that say 'you can't speak to anyone.' So, technically, it's a release, but it's really more correct saying, 'Look, there's a challenge here. We want you to investigate all your options. Of course, we're one and let's stay in close communication.' I don't think there's anything negative around it at all. It's just letting people figure it out."(FoxSports)(10-8-2013)
UPDATE: The Associated Press has learned that Michael Waltrip Racing will run only two full-time cars next season because of the loss of sponsor NAPA. Team owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman on Monday began telling employees of their decision. Those affected were told they are free to begin looking for a new job immediately. Two employees spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because MWR had not publicly announced its decision. The car that #56-Martin Truex Jr. currently drives will run a partial schedule in 2014. NAPA decided to leave MWR at the end of the year - fallout from the team's attempt to manipulate the finish at Richmond to get Truex into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.(Associated Press)(10-14-2013)
UPDATE2: Michael Waltrip Racing announced today its reorganization for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, highlighted by two full-time championship contending teams, a third entry which will run a limited schedule and a strengthened research and development group. MWR will field the #55 Aaron's Toyota and the #15 5-hour ENERGY/PEAK Toyota in its pursuit of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. To enhance performance for its two full-time teams, MWR has bolstered its R&D effort and will run a third car in select races, including Michael Waltrip in the 2014 Daytona 500. Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota and his crew chief, Chad Johnston, each have been notified they are free to negotiate with other teams. Scott Miller, the team's executive vice president of competition, will continue his role as crew chief of the #55 team into the 2014 season.
"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."
The reorganization enabled MWR to retain more than 85% of its current workforce. Those whose positions were affected by the moves were notified Monday morning. "Today was about doing what we had to do not what we wanted to do," Kauffman added. "It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season."
"We have very strong support from Toyota, Toyota Racing Development, 5-hour ENERGY, PEAK, Aaron's, AAA Mid-Atlantic and other partners who enable us to compete at the highest level," said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. "We are confident that with two teams and a very active test team, our competiveness will take a step forward. We will also continue to do a great job for our partners off the track, which has always been a cultural staple for our organization. Rob and I deeply appreciate everyone who has helped build MWR into a race winning team and we are dedicated to continuing our pursuit of excellence on and off the track."(MWR)(10-14-2013)
Brian Vickers to miss the rest of the 2013 season: Michael Waltrip Racing learned today that Brian Vickers is not available to race for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season due to health issues. Vickers said Dr. William Downey has placed him on blood thinning medication after a Monday morning examination on his right leg discovered a small blood clot in his calf region. The medications will keep Vickers out of the #55 Aaron's Toyota the remainder of the season, effective immediately. Vickers said his physicians are confident he will be able to resume activity before the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins. "If there's anything to be positive about with today's news it's that this is only a temporary setback," said Vickers. "The timing for this is never good, but I'm glad we'll get it out of the way now and be ready to run for a championship with the Aaron's Dream Machine in 2014."
"We were just informed this morning and our concern is for Brian's health," said MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman. "Anything else will be worked out in due course." As previously announced, two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. A replacement driver for the remaining events will be named later. In 22 races with MWR in 2012 and 2013, Vickers owns five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes including a victory on July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.(MWR)(10-14-2013)
Crew chief change at MWR UPDATE: Scott Miller, MWR executive vice president of competition, is expected to act as interim crew chief on the #55 Aaron's Toyota team and for Brian Vickers until a replacement can be found. Rodney Childers informed MWR last week that he would not be returning to the team next year, opting to join Stewart-Haas Racing as (#4) Kevin Harvick's crew chief. "I'm at my last supper," Childers confirmed by text Monday, "with my guys." Miller served a similar role at MWR for Martin Truex Jr., when Chad Johnston was suspended at the end of 2011.(FoxSports)(8-26-2013)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Scott Miller, its vice-president of competition, will oversee the crew chief duties on #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Miller will take the lead role on the #55 Toyota team working with driver Brian Vickers. Miller replaces Rodney Childers who remains under contract with MWR through December 31. Billy Scott, a race engineer with MWR since 2008 and exclusive to the #55 the past two seasons, will take an elevated role in car set up and race weekend preparations. Vickers will drive the #55 in the remaining 2013 races except at Talladega when two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip climbs behind the wheel. Vickers won the July 14 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the #55. The team is 19th in the car owner standings. Miller is a 20-year motorsports veteran who joined MWR before the 2012 season and played a major role in bringing the team its first two Chase berths last year. He has served as crew chief for several teams during his career (MWR)(8-26-2013)
MWR to announce Vickers as 2014 driver of #55 UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip Racing has scheduled a "major media announcement" for Tuesday morning at the Hall of Fame. The release has the Aaron's logo and a picture of Brian Vickers on it. Vickers has split the #55 with Mark Martin the last couple years and is widely expected to be the full time driver next season.(8-12-2013)
UPDATE: Brian Vickers on Tuesday will be named the full-time driver of the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing Sprint Cup car for 2014, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com. Team officials were not available for comment, but team owner Michael Waltrip has made it clear for several months that Vickers was his choice to take over the 55 car after this season.(ESPN)(8-12-2013)
UPDATE 2: Aaron's announced it has reached a multi-year agreement [2 year deal] to sponsor Brian Vickers in Michael Waltrip Racing's (MWR) #55 Toyota Camry in every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. "We at Aaron's are thrilled about this partnership. We're building a championship organization - and we know that Brian Vickers and the No. 55 team, under Michael Waltrip's tradition of winning, are focused on building a championship caliber team," said Ronald W. Allen, Aaron's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "So many of our customers are enthusiastic and loyal NASCAR fans and we are proud to be a part of a sport they are passionate about. We are looking forward to continued success with Brian Vickers both on and off the track." Vickers has raced the #55 on a part-time basis the last two seasons for MWR posting several impressive performances including his third career victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14. Beginning in 2014, he'll pilot the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine with a fresh new paint scheme, unveiled today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. in every race.
"I can't put into words how this makes me feel," said 29-year-old Vickers. "I've really found my home at MWR over the past few years, and I've enjoyed getting to know the Aaron's associates and customers. I am honored that Aaron's is welcoming me into their family full-time. Knowing that I have a top-notch team and a dedicated sponsor for a full season is a really great feeling every driver dreams about, and like everyone else, I want to win races and win a championship. Michael and co-owner Rob Kauffman are really building something special at MWR and are giving me the tools to accomplish those goals."
"Aaron's is a cornerstone to MWR's success. This is a big announcement today because it shows a tremendous vote of confidence in the sport of NASCAR and the entire Michael Waltrip Racing organization," said Michael Waltrip, founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. "The relationship with Aaron's is very personal to me because they helped place Michael Waltrip Racing on the map in 2000 when I was running a half dozen Nationwide Series races from a small garage in my backyard. Now they are enabling MWR to continue its growth as we will have three drivers racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 2014 and beyond. So much of this confidence comes from the NASCAR fans who continue to support the sponsors of our teams. I want to sincerely thank the NASCAR fans who are Aaron's customers because you make this all happen," said Waltrip.(MWR)(8-13-2013)
Last time a race winner skipped the next race? With Brian Vickers not running the Sprint Cup Series race at Indy this week, yet winning the last Cup race run at New Hampshire on July 14th, who was the last race winner NOT to attempts the following event?
That would be Brad Keselowski, who won at Talladega in April 2009 running the #09 Chevy for Phoenix Racing and did not run the following race at Richmond in May 2009. Before that it was Jamie McMurray, who won at Charlotte in October 2002 in his 2nd career Cup start and didn't race the following week at Martinsville.(7-25-2013)
Vickers wins New Hampshire: #55-Brian Vickers won the Camping World RV Sales 301 Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for his 1st win of 2013 and 3rd career win.
#18-Busch finished 2nd followed by #31-Burton, #2-Keselowski, #43-Almirola, #48-Johnson, #29-Harvick, #99-Edwards, #20-Kenseth, and #24-Gordon.
The race ended under a green-white-checker finish after a late caution. #14-Stewart restart second but ran out of gas and finished 26th.
#78-Busch led the most laps with 102 of 302 laps, but spun midway through the race and finished 31st.
There were 10 lead changes among 6 drivers and 12 cautions for 58 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 98.735mph. NASCAR no longer announces the track attendance.
See race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Unofficial New Hampshire Race Results page (pdf) and check out the New Hampshire Penalty Report (pdf).
See drivers championship points standings on the Unofficial Drivers Points Standings (pdf) and the owner points standings on the Unofficial Owners Points Standings page (pdf).(7-14-2013)
MWR teams to honor Boston Marathon victims: The events of this week's attack on the Boston Marathon hit especially close to Michael Waltrip Racing founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. As the only NASCAR Sprint Cup driver or car owner to have run the Boston Marathon, Waltrip will honor the victims of the marathon tragedy by running special door numbers on his three NASCAR Sprint Cup entries this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
The door numbers on the #15, 55 and 56 MWR Toyota Camrys will replicate the 2013 Boston Marathon runner "bib" numbers, which are pinned on each of the nearly 30,000 runners. Waltrip posted a time of 4 hours, 33 minutes in the 2000 event.
"The news coming out of Boston this week was very personal to me," said Waltrip. "When I ran the Boston Marathon in 2000, I remember thinking about what a privilege it was to be able to participate and all the hard work it took to be there. When you can see those international flags flying in Copley Square, you know you are about to complete your journey. I know the joy those runners were feeling at that moment when their worlds changed. It was a great moment of pride when they pinned the Boston Marathon bib on me, so I thought it would be great to pin bib numbers on our race cars this week in Kansas. I want to thank our sponsors, NAPA AUTO PARTS, 5-Hour ENERGY and Aaron's, as well as NASCAR, for giving us permission to show our support. We just want the victims of the attack, the brave men and women who helped after the explosions and the city of Boston to know that we are thinking of them and we will support them anyway we can."(MWR)(4-18-2013)
MWR Names Tom German as Chief Technical Officer: Michael Waltrip Racing announced it has hired Tom German as Chief Technical Officer for the NASCAR Sprint Cup organization. German has spent nearly 15 years with Penske Racing most recently serving as technical director for Penske's NASCAR teams. German will begin his duties after the Feb. 24 Daytona 500. The highest-ranking technical position at MWR became available when long-time MWR Technical Director Nick Hughes informed MWR he would return to his native Australia some time in 2013. Hughes joined MWR in 2008 creating and managing one of the best engineering staffs in NASCAR.
"This is such a bitter-sweet announcement for MWR," said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. "It is so rare that a person of Tom German's experience and education comes along, period. It is even more remarkable that he became available at the perfect time. Nick has done such an amazing job and has become one of the most respected behind-the-scenes guys in NASCAR. The depth in our engineering department, the leadership that (Executive Vice President of Competition) Scott Miller has brought to us and now the addition of Tom German gives me so much confidence in the technical future of MWR. Every day is a new challenge and I am so proud of the team we have assembled to make those challenges opportunities."
German received his Master's degree in business administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management and his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Akron. "The first thing that attracted me to MWR was the culture of its employees. It is truly striking at first," said German. "After the first conversation it was obvious the ownership has committed to engineering excellence and that was the deciding factor. I can't wait to contribute to MWR's pursuit of a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship." Hughes will remain in the United States through this summer and will maintain a close relationship with MWR as a consultant over the medium term.(MWR)(2-13-2013)
Chad Walter joins MWR: Chad Walter has joined Michael Waltrip Racing as director of race engineering. Walter most recently led the #22 Penske Racing team and Sam Hornish in the Nationwide Series. He won races with both Hornish and Justin Allgaier and coached both drivers to fourth-place finishes in the NNS point standings. The 41-year-old Albion, N.Y. native was replaced by Greg Erwin at the end of last season. Walter, who attended Cornell University, replaces Steve Boyer at Michael Waltrip Racing. Boyer joined MWR two seasons ago but has returned to the private sector.(Fox Sports)(2-4-2013)
Born in JULY
25 Ernie Elliott, Bill 'the Hat Man' Brodrick, Kelly Punch, Shelby Howard, Jerry Hill, Tommy Britt, Frank Bonsignore
26 Buddy Arrington, Raymond Fox III, Rick Crawford, Randy MacDonald, Bill Baird, Jordan Garone, Rick Pigeon
27 Adriana Wells, Jeremy Flowers
28 Tina Inman Hussey, Mary Quay
29 Bernie Bisciotti
30 Henry Ford, Robert Grey Allison, Ricky Sanders, Neil Bonnet
31 Kyle Larson, Bob Tomlinson, Louise Smith, Mike Alexander, Jerry Cook, Flossie Johnson
Born in AUGUST
1 Bob Keselowski, Ronnie Hornaday III, Alison Poling McCabe, Bobby Issac
2 Brian France
3 Tracy Adamczyk-Dowd (sister), Brad Baker, Terri Parsons
4 Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Bob Calkins, Amy Hair, Bob Hubner, Allen Styers
5 Paul Lamach, Alan Gustafson, Chad Knaus, Rich Woodland, Pattie Petty, Josh Browne, Kenny Irwin Jr
6 Jeb Burton, Gail Connor, Tom Hubert, Kendall McReynolds, Rick Ware, "Amish" John Stewart
7 Steve Loyd, Kyle Drum
8 Gail Norton, Parker Kligerman, Tommy Ellis, Jack Sprague, Don Leo
9 Tom Higgins, Cindy Shepherd, Lloyd Dane, Leo Gordon
10 Doug Hewitt, Donnie Neuenberger, Murray Timm, Chris Heroy, Ryan Moore
11 Lennie Pond, H. Clay Earles, Glenn Jarrett, Lonnie Rush Jr., Frankie Schneider, John Dodson, Zachary Gay
12 George Lubejko, Michelle Durkin, Carolyn Rudd Wax, Dick Bown, Tony Furr Jr., Richard Everett Craven, Parnelli Jones, Jordan Irvan, Scott Gaylord
13 John Feeney, John Baden, Bill Wilsey, Patrick Carpentier, Hideo Fukuyama, Jim Roper
14 Rusty Wallace, Lee Spencer
15 Andy Petree, Carl Edwards, Newt Moore, Robin Pemberton, Mark Kennerly
16 Ronald and Donald Allison, Diane Hawkins, Lenny Batycki
17 Danny Marshburn, Jerry Horton, Rex White, Matt Fernandez, Cathy Simmons
18 Drew Markle, Matt McLaughlin, Steve Wallace, Rachel Wood, Steve Lowery, Andrea Sospenzo, Andy Pilgrim
19 Dale Inman, David Hyder, Alex and Dillon Makar, Ray Elder
20 Bobby Auten, Kenny Martin, Jerry Punch, Dennis Punch, Ronald Puryear
21 Patti Bisciotti, William Vance, Winston Kelley, Paul Menard, Mark McCarter, Burney Lamar, Doug Shaak, Keven Wood
22 Collin Houston, Tommy Mullis, Elmo Langley
23 Steve Park, Kenny Wallace, Scott Miller, Ashlie Garone, Robert Larkins, Ralph Sheheen, Shane Sieg
24 Lee McCall, David Bonnett
25 Casey Atwood, David Smith, Shane Hall, Kelly Bires, Sarah Catlin Waltrip, T.J. Bell
26 Jayski.com, Ray Evernham, James Hylton, Landon Rudd, Greg Engle, Ken Duan, Adam Gravitt, Daniel Rankin
27 Chris Brook, Richard Broome, Billy Hodges, Chuck Rider, Mike Hillman, Gloria Broadwater, Claire B. Lang
28 Kelley Earnhardt, Randy LaJoie, Thomas Hatcher, Brandon Miller, Hoss Berry
29 Timothy Peters, Jim Brady, Paul Vanderlaan, Ken Stout, Wendell Scott, Geneva Key
30 Mike Helton, Sue Fiala, Mark Allen, Gordon Gibbs, John Erickson
31 Sara Eolin, Patti Jarrett Makar, Mike Nelson, Jerry Baxter Jr., Erin Beam, Wayne Orme, Mike Morneau