Contract Status: Driver 2015; Primary Sponsor: 2015;
#55 crewman and Cassill to run in Ironman race in Canada: #55 Michael Waltrip crewman and gym strength trainer Blake Haugland heads to Quebec Canada to compete in another Ironman Competition on his off week from his rear tire carrier position on the #55 Toyota. This is the first race of 2015 Haugland will be racing with Smile Train's Team Empower. The IRONMAN Mont Tremblant 70.3 will be held June 21st in Mont Tremblant Canada. Smile Train is an international children's charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Haugland has a goal to raise $10,000 as a team and $2.500 individually by race day with a 2nd goal in mind of raising enough money to provide surgery for 70 children to match the 70 mile race.
AND Landon Cassill, driver of the #40 Chevy in Sprint Cup Series, will also run the IRONMAN Mont Tremblant 70.3.(6-20-2015)
Ragan hopes for full-time ride in 2016: #55-David Ragan is with his third team ... this season. Injury and illness to other drivers have taken Ragan from Front Row Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing. On Wednesday, Ragan and his MWR team were among those at Richmond International Raceway for a tire test. Ragan was gracious enough to hold a news conference after his morning practice session. "I know where you're going," he said. "It's been a busy year. It's so nice when you can get with one team and one group and build a little chemistry and get to understand everything. I'm glad it unfolded like that. I'm very happy at Michael Waltrip Racing." Ragan, no doubt, would be happy anywhere as long as it involved a ride on the Sprint Cup circuit. Such employment is difficult to find. Ragan has been fortunate this season to be with two well-funded teams in JGR and MWR. His future, however, is far from certain. He's the replacement driver for Brian Vickers, who is out because of issues with blood clots. Vickers wants to return. His doctors, and NASCAR, will decide if that's possible and even advisable. As other spots become available, Ragan must compete with drivers on the rise whose potential seems impressive. Ragan has driven for more teams this season than he did in his previous eight full seasons in NASCAR. He began his career with #6-Roush Fenway Racing in 2007 and moved to #34-Furniture Row in 2012-14. Now he's a Sprint Cup vagabond, a young man in demand as a replacement driver who wants a full-time ride to call his own. "When you're consistently with the same team, same manufacturer, same group, you get to know one another easily," Ragan said. "You spend time on and off the racetrack together. Some things are second nature. When you're with a new group of guys, it forces me to go into detail a little more about the race car. It makes my job a little more difficult because you try to be more precise in describing the car, and even race strategy, things you take for granted once you've worked with someone for several months or years. I think I'm a better driver because of it. I've had to study and work hard and devote more time to my racing program. It's been good. I've enjoyed it. I feel like I'm a smarter driver today than I was six months ago." Whether that means Ragan will be in a more stable situation six months from now is another question.(Roanoke Times)(6-19-2015)
Michael Waltrip Racing swaps crew chiefs: Michael Waltrip Racing announced personnel changes to its two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup operation, which include the reassignment of its crew chiefs. Effective immediately, Brian Pattie will become the crew chief for the #55 Toyota Camry driven by David Ragan. Billy Scott will become the crew chief for the #15 Toyota Camry driven by Clint Bowyer. Pattie has been the crew chief for the #15 with Bowyer since the team was established in 2012. He has scored three wins with the team, and finished second in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup and seventh in 2013. Scott has been the crew chief of the #55 since August 2013, and previously served under Rodney Childers as that team's lead engineer. Additional changes include a reorganization of lead, secondary and support engineers for each team. Car chiefs, road mechanics and pit crews will remain with their originally assigned teams. "Our goal is to best position the 15 and 55 teams for a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup," said co-owner Rob Kauffman. "MWR has an enormous amount of bright, motivated and quality people working to solve the endless challenges inherent to racing. We have won poles and races, we have made the Chase and competed for a championship with this core group of personnel. We just felt it was time to shake things up a bit to try and spark fresh ideas and more consistent results. There are 12 races left before the 2015 Chase field is set and we plan to be a part of it."(Michael Waltrip Racing)(6-9-2015)
Michael Waltrip Racing to hold Fan Fest on May 20th: Michael Waltrip Racing will hold its annual Fan Fest at its Cornelius, N.C. race shop on Wed. May 20, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm. Fans may tour the shop, get autographs from MWR drivers, shop in the team store, watch live pit practice, enjoy sponsor displays and check out muscle cars provided by RK Motors. MWR will provide food and music for all the race fans. Admission is free and kids are welcome. "We have had Fan Fest every year since this shop opened and the race fans love it," said Waltrip. "I enjoy meeting all of our race fans and talking racing. We'll give you access to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race shop that few folks ever get to enjoy." Fans will be allowed access to the shop floor Wednesday for an up-close view of the team's Toyotas as it prepares for the racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Legendary gas man Danny "Chocolate" Myers and veteran broadcaster Jim Noble will bring their Sirius-XM Radio show "Tradin Paint" to the open house broadcasting from MWR. MWR is at 20310 Chartwell Center Drive off exit 28 on I-77 in Cornelius, N.C. about 15 miles north of Charlotte, N.C. The race shop is open to the public throughout the year. Driver Autograph Times:
Michael Waltrip - 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
David Ragan - 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Clint Bowyer - 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.(MWR)(5-12-2015)
Nickelodeon announces driver lineup for SpongeBob SquarePants 400 weekend: Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants will take over Kansas Speedway, for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 weekend, May 8-9. The world's most famous sponge and his Bikini Bottom friends will take an adventurous ride on the cars of four NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, all vying to win the coveted SpongeBob SquarePants 400 trophy. The SpongeBob SquarePants 400 will feature an all-star NASCAR Sprint Cup lineup including:
Greg Biffle, driving the #16 Cheez-It/ Patrick Star Ford Fusion
Michael McDowell, driving the #95 WRL/Larry the Lobster Ford Fusion
Casey Mears, driving the #13 Squidward Tentacles Chevrolet SS
David Ragan, driving the #55 Aarons/SpongeBob SquarePants Toyota Camry
NASCAR driver Ben Kennedy will join in on the fun when he takes out his #11 Local Motors/ SpongeBob SquarePants Toyota Tundra for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway on Friday, May 8. Additionally, NASCAR XFINITY Series star Bubba Wallace will pilot the #6 SpongeBob SquarePants Ford Mustang for the Winn-Dixie XFINITY Series race on Saturday, May 2. His Ford machine will feature SpongeBob SquarePants and his friends Patrick, SquidWard, Mr. Krabs and Sandy Cheeks.
"It's really fun to be part of the Nickelodeon lineup for the Kansas race and get to feature Patrick Star and Cheez-It on our No. 16 Ford," said Biffle, who boasts a pair of victories on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas. "Nickelodeon does a lot to bring sports to kids, which is something that is important and I'm glad to be a part of it. Kansas is a good track for us and Saturday night races are always exciting. Hopefully we can get another Kansas win."
Also at the speedway, attendees will be able to enjoy some pre-Mother's Day fun in the Nickelodeon Kids Zone, which will be located in the Kansas Speedway Fan Zone. The area will feature appearances from the SpongeBob SquarePants costumed characters, a SpongeBob SquarePants photo station and more.
On Wednesday, May 13, Nickelodeon will air episodes of Hammer Down, a docu-series produced by NASCAR Productions, in a special racing-themed night during the NickSportsprogramming block on Nicktoons. Hammer Down is an original, four-episode series featuring four of NASCAR's rising stars--Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kenzie Ruston-that give fans an all-access pass into the young athletes' lives as they aspire to become elite NASCAR drivers, while also enjoying time with friends and coming of age as young adults. The NickSports programming block airs every Wednesday, from 9:00-11:00 pm (ET/PT).(Nickelodeon/VMG)(5-1-2015)
Moffitt returns to the #34 at Kansas: NASCAR's latest round of musical chairs left Brett Moffitt without a ride after the engines shut down Sunday in Richmond. But the Grimes [Iowa] native is prepared to get back in the game next weekend when they're fired up again in Kansas. Moffitt confirmed Tuesday in a text message that he'll be behind the wheel of the Front Row Motorsports #34 Ford for the May 9 Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. It'll be his second stint this season in the ride that was originally supposed to belong to David Ragan, who will take over the #55 next week after piloting the #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota for nine races in place of injured Kyle Busch. The latest flurry of changes came after Joe Gibbs Racing opted to put 18-year-old Erik Jones in the #18 for his first Cup start at Kansas. It's unclear who will drive the #34 after next weekend's race. Front Row Motorsports has not announced its driver lineup beyond this weekend's race at Talladega.(Des Moines Register)(4-29-2015)
Ragan in the #55 rest of the year, starting at Kansas: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that David Ragan will drive the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine for the remainder of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, beginning May 9 at Kansas Speedway. Brian Vickers had planned to race the Toyota fulltime in 2015, but heart surgery in December forced the Thomasville, N.C., native to miss the first two races of the season. Vickers returned at Las Vegas on March 7, but was sidelined two weeks later by recurring blood clots in his lungs. No timetable has been set for his return.
"Life has thrown a lot at MWR the first part of this racing season, but our team has stood tall and worked through it," said Michael Waltrip. "Our original plans for the #55 team have been challenged since December and we felt it was important for our employees and our sponsors to solidify the remainder of the 2015 season. The opportunity to bring David Ragan into the team is incredible for a number of reasons. He will bring experience, consistency and a lot of confidence based on how he has been running with our Toyota teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. He also puts the #55 team and Aaron's right back into the Chase for the Sprint Cup contention, which is a very positive turn of events for that team. There is absolutely no question about Brian Vickers' ability, but there remains a question of his availability. We are going to remain very close with Brian while he works on his plan to return. We have told him that MWR is here when he has a clear picture about what the future holds, but we don't need to add any timeline pressures. He is working with a lot of medical advisors and once he has established his plan, we will sit down and discuss next steps. I'm really proud of the incredible job Brett Moffitt has done for us in the 55. He has been a big part of this organization for the last couple of years and he will continue in that role. With the limited number of starts Brett has in this industry, he has proven that he has the talent to be a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and we are still committed to helping him get that opportunity."(MWR)
Front Row Statement: "We are grateful to David Ragan for his contributions to the growth of Front Row Motorsports and his commitment to our partners over the past three years. He led us on our first trip to Victory Lane, and that's a moment we'll never forget. We wish him the best with his new team. As previously announced, Chris Buescher will be the driver of the #34 at Talladega this weekend. We are working on finalizing the driver line-up for races to follow and will announce those plans soon."(Front Row Motorsports)(4-28-2015)
Michael Waltrip in the #55 at Talladega; then Ragan UPDATES: Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3. Waltrip, founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, replaces 22-year-old Brett Moffitt who has driven MWR's #55 since the March 22nd race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. "Talladega is a place where I know we will be very competitive," said Waltrip who owns four restrictor plate victories including a Talladega win in the fall of 2003. "This will be my 58th Sprint Cup start at Talladega so believe me when I tell you Talladega is some of the best racing in the world and I'm glad I'll get to be part of it again in the Aaron's Dream Machine." The May 3 and Oct. 25 Talladega races are the only remaining races Waltrip is scheduled to drive this season.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(4-23-2015)
UPDATE: The team is believed to be trying to sign David Ragan to drive the #55 beginning next month at Kansas. Ragan is currently the replacement driver for Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing, but JGR is leaning toward putting 18-year-old development driver Erik Jones in the car until Busch returns. That would free Ragan, who has subbed for Busch since the second week of the season. Waltrip wasn't prepared Thursday to discuss anything beyond next week at Talladega. "We're making plans now and we wanted a more long-term solution for the situation by this point, but we just haven't been able to put all the pieces together yet," he said. He also said it's unclear when - or if - Vickers will be back. "I can't answer that," Waltrip said of Vickers, who is in a contract year with the team. "He certainly wants to be back, but he's on thinners. Until he comes up with a long-term solution to that, that challenges us in answering if he'll be back."(Associated Press)(4-24-2015)
UPDATE 2: David Ragan, who entered the season planning to run with Front Row Motorsports, is expected to move to Michael Waltrip Racing's #55 Toyota beginning with the May 9 race at Kansas Speedway, multiple sources confirmed to the Observer on Friday. He would replace rookie Brett Moffitt in the #55, who has been filling in most of the team's races since the team's regular driver, Brian Vickers, was sidelined once again with blood clots. Ragan would remain with the team for the rest of the 2015 season, sources said. Saturday's race is expected to be the last for Moffitt with MWR in the Cup series, but the organization remains committed to obtaining sponsorship in order to run him in a third team and he remains under contract with MWR. An official announcement is expected sometime next week, sources said. Ragan's move will require another fill-in driver for JGR in the #18 as Busch is not yet set to return to competition. Sources said JGR will move Xfinity and Truck series driver Erik Jones into the #18 beginning with the Kansas race. An official with Joe Gibbs Racing said "nothing has been confirmed" thus far about any changes to their driver lineup. With Ragan moving to the #55 for the remainder of the season, Front Row Motorsports will need to find a more permanent replacement for Ragan in its #34 Ford. Roush Fenway Racing has been loaning Xfinity driver Chris Buescher to the team when the schedule doesn't disrupt his run for Xfinity Series championship. That arrangement could well continue, with other drivers used when Buscher's schedule doesn't allow double-duty, sources said. A FRM spokesman said at this time, the organization was still expecting Ragan to return to the team whenever his tenure at JGR is completed.(Charlotte Observer)(4-24-2015)
UPDATE 3: If the deal is finalized, Vickers, who announced in March that he would have to miss at least three months while he takes blood thinners to treat blood clots that had developed in his lungs, would be left to find another ride if he is able to return this season, [a] source said. That could include the possibility of MWR fielding a third car, pending sponsorship, after Vickers is ready to return.(ESPN.com)
AND Asked about reports that he would be moving to MWR: "I know I'm going to be in the 18 car for a little while," Ragan said. "This week and Talladega are obviously two very important weeks we're looking forward to. I'm focused on that and I just don't really have any comment.")USA Today)(4-25-2015)
Gibbs says Jones is "ready to go" to Cup; MWR an option?: With Kyle Busch's return date still undetermined from a broken right leg and broken left foot suffered in a crash in February, Joe Gibbs has talked about putting Erik Jones in Busch's Cup car when he feels it's the right time. Jones' performance in outlasting Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the victory Friday no doubt is encouraging Gibbs to make "the right time" sooner than later, as Jones won in just his ninth Xfinity start. "There's no question that at some point very quick he's going to be in a Cup car some," Gibbs said. "We kind of have a little bit of a strategy there that we've talked about. He's ready to go at any time." Jones is driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports full time in the Camping World Truck Series while also driving as many Xfinity races as possible for JGR that don't conflict with his trucks schedule. Gibbs doesn't have any room to expand his Cup program, as he has the current maximum of four teams and all his drivers are signed through at least 2016. He can run a fifth car for up to seven races for a development driver or loan him to another Cup team. "We know that Erik is on the fast track," Gibbs said. "It's just a matter of when."(ESPN.com)(4-12-2015)
AND If Joe Gibbs Racing cannot find a Sprint Cup ride for Erik Jones, fellow Toyota team owner Rob Kauffman says Michael Waltrip Racing might have a Camry for the 18-year-old phenom. "There are a lot of moving parts, but we would love to figure something out," Kauffman told Motorsports.com prior to Saturday's Duck Commander 500. Kauffman acknowledged he went to Victory Lane last night during Jones' celebration to congratulate Coach Gibbs and Dave Wilson, President and General Manager, Toyota Racing Development. "We have some open seats, potentially. We'd love to expand when it makes sense." Currently MWR runs two teams - the #15 with veteran Clint Bowyer, who is in the first year of the three-year contract and the #55 with Moffitt, who is filling in for Brian Vickers while he recovers from blood clots. "I think Brian's doing better," Kauffman added. "I haven't talked to him in a bit...but right now the important thing is his health."(Motorsport)(4-12-2015)
Moffitt back in the #55 at Texas: Brett Moffitt will drive the #55 Aaron's Toyota of Michael Waltrip Racing at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11th (MWR Facebook). Moffitt has subbed for Brian Vickers in the last two races (Auto Club and Martinsville) in the #55 Toyota as Vickers sits out due to recurring blood clots. MWR has not named a driver past the Texas race. Moffitt is also running for the Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award.(4-2-2015)
Vickers on blood thinners for 3 months: Brian Vickers said Sunday that he'll be on blood-thinning medicine at least three months after small blood clots were found in both lungs this week. Vickers cannot race while on blood thinners. Vickers said he first experienced chest pain when taking deep breaths on a flight to Los Angeles on Thursday and went to a hospital later that day. This is the third time since 2010 that blood clots have forced Vickers out of the car. Asked Sunday if this could be the end of his career, Vickers said: "Am I worried? Yes. Have I given up hope? No. Whatever happens, I couldn't have been more happier to have been in that (#55 Michael Waltrip Racing) car the past two weeks. By no means have I given up. I don't know what's next. I know I'm going to be on blood thinners for three months and after that I'm going to do all I can to get back in the race car."(NBC Sports)(3-22-2015)
Chris Buescher to replace Moffitt in the #34: Front Row Motorsports announced that Chris Buescher will replace Brett Moffit in the #34 Ford this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Buescher drives full time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Roush Fenway Racing.(3-20-2015)
Moffitt replacing Vickers in the #55 at Auto Club Speedway: Brett Moffitt will drive Michael Waltrip Racing's #55 Toyota in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The team's regular driver Brian Vickers informed MWR he has experienced a reoccurrence of blood clots, which will require the 31-year-old driver to begin taking blood-thinning medication and he is not able to race while on the medicine. "First and foremost our thoughts are with Brian and his family," said MWR founder and co-owner Michael Waltrip. "He isn't just our race car driver, he is our friend and we know the NASCAR community will continue to rally around Brian. We are fortunate to have Brett Moffitt in our system and marveled at his great drive in Atlanta three weeks ago, so we know he can get the job done in the #55 this weekend. As this news is very fresh and the situation is very fluid, we can only plan for this weekend at this point." Vickers missed the season's first two races recovering from December heart surgery. He finished 15th at Las Vegas and 41st at Phoenix. "Thankfully, because I recognized the signs and symptoms, the doctors caught this early and I'm going to be ok. I had finished my treatment for the clot I had in my leg back in 2013 and I haven't needed to be on a blood thinner for a clot in my leg or lung since," said Vickers. "Now I won't be able to race because I'll need to be back on a blood thinner. I'm going to follow doctor's orders and do everything I need to do to get well." "Believe it or not, it's Blood Clot Awareness Month and I was supposed to be at the track this weekend doing some work with my partners at Janssen focused on getting the word out. I'm disappointed I can't be there but if there is a silver lining in all of this, hopefully what's happened to me will help to raise awareness on this important health issue," said Vickers.(MWR)(3-20-2015)
Janssen sponsoring Vickers in California: Racing has been Brian Vickers' passion of choice since a young age when he climbed behind the wheel of his family's race cars. It led to fame and fortune as trophies filled the trophy case. But battles with life threatening illness in adulthood made the young racer turn his passion towards health. After overcoming health obstacles himself, he has continued to share his journey to help and inspire others. This weekend Vickers combines his passion for health and racing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. where he'll drive the #55 Janssen Toyota Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing. Since last year Vickers has partnered with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a company that works to solve some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In addition to its relationship with Vickers and MWR, Janssen will sponsor Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY race at Auto Club Speedway. In 2013 Janssen also sponsored races at Auto Club and Chicago Speedways.(MWR), see an image of the car on the #55 team paint schemes page.(3-19-2015)
Moffitt to Drive #34 FRM Ford for three races: Twenty-two-year-old up-and-coming driver Brett Moffitt will pilot Front Row Motorsports' #34 Ford Fusion for the next three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The young driver, who finished eighth in Sunday's race at Atlanta, will drive the #34 Shaw's Southern Belle Seafood Ford this week at Las Vegas. He will also be behind the wheel of the #34 at Phoenix on March 15 and Auto Club Speedway on March 22. Moffitt fills the seat temporarily vacated by Front Row Motorsports veteran David Ragan, who is subbing for the injured Kyle Busch in the #18 car. Moffitt turned heads in Sunday's 500-mile race in Atlanta, earning a top-10 finish in just his eighth Sprint Cup Series start. The young driver is a nine-time winner in K&N Pro Series East competition and currently serves as a test driver for Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and Michael Waltrip Racing. He made starts in the NASCAR XFINITY (2012) and Camping World Truck (2013) series before making his Sprint Cup Series debut last June at Dover. Sunday's Kobalt 400 will be Moffitt's ninth Sprint Cup Series start and his second of 2015.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to run some races for Front Row," Moffitt said. "After last weekend, I'm obviously eager to get back into a car and keep racing. I'm grateful to Bob Jenkins and his team for giving me the chance to do that. I'll do my best to get some good finishes for them. I'm also thankful that Michael Waltrip Racing is allowing me to pursue this opportunity. I think it's going to benefit everyone in the end."
Team owner Bob Jenkins believes Moffitt brings valuable experience -- plus an eagerness to continue learning -- to the #34 team. "We know Brett doesn't have a ton of Sprint Cup experience, but he's got a lot of hours behind the wheel in testing time, and he was certainly impressive Sunday in Atlanta," Jenkins said. "For only his eighth start, he showed a lot of poise, patience and maturity that you don't often see in drivers that age."
Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman is supportive of the arrangement. "As we anticipated, there has been heightened interest for Brett Moffitt's services after his solid performance last weekend in Atlanta," Kauffman said. "While he is committed to MWR, we are happy for him to gain further valuable experience and help Bob Jenkins, Jerry Freeze and the team at Front Row Motorsports over the next few races. Bob and Front Row were very gracious with our Toyota teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing after Kyle Busch's unfortunate injuries by allowing David Ragan to vacate the #34 to drive the #18. We will continue to work on future opportunities for Brett."
Shaw's Southern Belle Seafood joins Moffitt as a first-time partner with Front Row Motorsports for the Las Vegas event. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based, "Made in the USA" premium seafood company makes award-winning crab cakes and stuffed crabs, sold in fine supermarkets across the country. The Shaw family has owned and operated the business, using recipes from original Southern Belle "Mama Shaw," since 1934.(FRM)(3-34-2015)
Brian Vickers returns to the seat of the #55: Excuse Brian Vickers if taking the green flag to start Sunday's Las Vegas race seems as rewarding as a trip to victory lane. Vickers missed the 2015 season's first two races as he recovered from Dec. 13 heart surgery. Three months later, he'll strap himself into the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine and prepare for battle at 200 mph. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has no doubts about his health. "The doctors say I will be as strong if not better than before," said the 31-year-old Thomasville, N.C. native. "The surgery was a lot higher risk, but they feel really good about how everything has progressed. My sternum is stronger than before. It's wired together making loops like a coat hanger." Vickers latest health battle began on Dec. 11 after he arrived in Charlotte and prepared to drive to Mooresville, N.C. to an Aaron's photo shoot. He knew something was wrong. "At the hospital they discovered my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. The procedure was painful but it went great and they feel better about my heart than before." He wouldn't be human if he didn't have his doubts in December. "Your first question is 'Am I going to live,'" he recalled. "Once I knew that then I had to decide about racing. Maybe, if I had already won a championship and done everything I wanted to do in racing I would have given serious thought to walking away, but I really want to win races and a championship. There's more to do and I didn't want to someday look back and regret not coming back. And, I'm not going to lie, I enjoy going 200 mph. Overcoming problems like this is just what you have to do in life. There's a lot of people battling things tougher than what I have battled." Inserting the original heart patch in 2010 and blood clots in 2013 forced Vickers to miss races. Add in the December surgery and few people have a better appreciation of life than Vickers. "You just have this notion that tomorrow is going to be there and when you go through something that jeopardizes all that, you understand how important living for today is."
Aaron's will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a special paint scheme on the #55 this weekend (MWR), see an image of the scheme on the #55 Team Schemes page.(3-4-2015)
Statement from MWR Co-Owner Rob Kauffman about Brent Moffitt: "We are proud of how the entire #55 Aaron's Dream Machine team has performed while Brian Vickers was recovering from his December surgery. The race in Atlanta showcased the progress of the entire organization, as well as a promising young driver in Brett Moffitt. Brett has been in the MWR system the past couple of years and we're enthusiastic about his potential. Brett is under a multi-year agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing. MWR would love to get back to a three-car team and grow with him into the future. Before this past weekend we stated that we felt his name should be mentioned among the impressive crop of young drivers coming into the sport, and the Atlanta result validated that claim. While we work towards a fully supported in-house program, it is MWR's desire that Brett get more quality opportunities in either of NASCAR's top divisions and we will work diligently to make that happen."(MWR)(3-3-2015)
Special scheme on the #55 at Atlanta, Moffitt gets the call: Brett Moffitt will drive Michael Waltrip Racing's #55 Aaron's 60th Anniversary Dream Machine Toyota replacing Brian Vickers who'll make his 2015 debut next weekend in Las Vegas after recovering from heart surgery. Michael Waltrip finished 26th at Daytona last weekend driving the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine. Atlanta-based Aaron's will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a special paint scheme on the #55 this weekend. Aaron's joined MWR in 2000 serving as a primary sponsor in Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races. With more than 2,100 stores across the country, Aaron's helps customers own the life they want. Though Moffitt owns a few Sprint Cup starts, he's never had a chance to demonstrate his talent with a full-time team, crew and car that's competing for wins and a championship. Moffitt sees this weekend's race as a chance to show the world he belongs with the sport's young stars. In five years of fulltime NASCAR Pro Series East competition (2009-13), Moffitt won nine of the 61 races he entered. In 2014, Moffitt made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Dover International Speedway, where he started 18th and finished 22nd. He has since competed in six additional Sprint Cup events.(MWR), see images of the car on the #55 Team Schemes page.(2-24-2015)
Driver, Marketing Executive Form New Sports Agency - White-Gaulding Partners: NASCAR driver Jason White and marketing veteran Dwayne Gaulding announced the formation of White-Gaulding Partners ("WGP"), a new specialist sports marketing agency. WGP will service all sports marketing opportunities, but will initially focus on motorsports, emerging young drivers and corporate sponsorship procurement. NASCAR team owner Rob Kauffman is an early investor in the new enterprise. "There is so much young driving talent around the country and we want to focus on these underserved but potentially high growth opportunities," said WGP co-founder Jason White. "We want to work with the stars and corporate leaders of tomorrow."
"I have been able to spend some time with Jason the past couple of years and I know he is a tireless networker," said Kauffman. "When he and Dwayne shared their vision with me a few months ago, I was happy to step up and support them, there is a niche in the market for WGP and I will be happy to assist them in any way I can to help WGP be successful."
"There are so many companies looking for avenues into sports marketing," said WGP co-founder Dwayne Gaulding. "I'm excited about using our resources and athletes to help these companies find their way into a perfect fit."(PR)(2-20-2015)
Vickers discusses how he feeling and plans: #55-Brian Vickers met with members of the media at Media Day at Daytona International Speedway, Vickers was asked how he felt after corrective heart surgery a few months ago. Vickers will miss the first two races of the season (Waltrip in at Daytona, Moffitt in at Atlanta). The transcript in part:
Q) How are you feeling after surgery in December?
VICKERS: "I'm feeling good considering everything. It's amazing with everything that's happened and how fast the recovery has been and how well I feel now relative to how I felt a month ago or two months ago much less."
Q) How are your chest and the wiring healing?
VICKERS: "It feels great. I had rehab, training - I've been kind of training quite a bit actually - and really just kind of pushing the boundaries every day of what I can do and kind of getting the chest healed and better and strengthened. I feel like I could be back in a car now, but they're still going to make me wait a few weeks."
Q) Is it difficult to get back into racing shape?
VICKERS: "I think there's a lot that people don't realize - what you have to go through and the physical aspect of racing. I've been training a lot and as much as I can - as much as the doctors will let me - trying to get ready for the season. It matters. It does make a difference and it won't stop once the season starts. I'll keep going."
Q) Will you have an opportunity to get familiar with your Camry before the Las Vegas race?
VICKERS: "Vegas practice will be my first time in a car. Having done it now several times - been out for a while unfortunately and then had to jump back in the car cold - the last two times I was able to test before I raced, but just based on the testing I felt pretty up to speed real quick. I'll only be a couple races behind this year on the rest of the field, so hopefully it won't be too much."
Q) Do you still need any medical clearance before Las Vegas?
VICKERS: "No. I'm good to go. There's no more doctors' visits. They said, 'Come March 5, go to the race track and have fun."
Q) What's your role with the team during your recovery?
VICKERS: "Support the Aaron's Dream Machine team really. That's my job. I would love to be in that car and because I can't be in that car - to be honest, I would rather not have to watch it because it's tough. You want to be in the race car. At the same time, I feel so blessed to have an amazing team, an amazing group of guys that support me through so much and I want to be there for them. Am I going to contribute in any meaningful way? Probably not - they're very good at what they do. They don't need me on the pit box bugging them and obviously Michael Waltrip (team co-owner) is going to be in the car. He is a phenomenal speedway racer. I think maybe I'll be able to help a little more in Atlanta with Brett (Moffitt, fill-in driver for Atlanta Motor Speedway). He's a great driver with a good head on his shoulders, but less experience, so maybe I'll be able to contribute a little more than there than here. Regardless, I want to be there for the team both weekends and support them the best I can."
Q) What has the reaction been like to your Xarelto commercial?
VICKERS: "It's been incredible. That whole opportunity to partner with Jannsen (Pharmaceutical Companies) and raise awareness has been huge. For me, it's a personal story for me, right? Not going to see a doctor - that's kind of what a lot of it is about is if you think something is wrong, go see a doctor. That's something I almost didn't do and it almost cost me a lot. That's not a mistake I've made twice. I only made that mistake once. It's been fun and that commercial just runs all the time. It's all over the place. I hear something about it all the time, but it turned out well."(Toyota Racing)(2-13-2015)
Moffitt in the #55 at Atlanta: Brett_Moffitt will be driving the #55 Aarons Dream Machine at Atlanta Motor Speedway.(MWR Twitter), doctors have medically cleared regular #55 driver Brian Vickers to return to full-time Sprint Cup racing in early March, three months after corrective heart surgery and Vickers will return at Las Vegas. Team Owner Michael Waltrip will drive the #55 in the Daytona 500.(1-27-2015)
Vickers medically cleared to race in early March: Doctors have medically cleared Brian Vickers to return to full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in early March, three months after corrective heart surgery. Vickers will make his season debut in the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8. MWR co-founder and two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the #55 in the 57th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 22. MWR will name a substitute driver for the March 1 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway later. "The doctors gave me a clean bill of health and said I will be better than before," said Vickers, the 31-year-old Thomasville, N.C. native whose health issues interrupted his racing seasons in 2010 and again in 2013. "The advancements in modern medicine and surgical procedures are amazing and I have to thank my doctors at the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute and Carolinas Medical Center for their extraordinary care. I have literally put my life in their hands twice and I cannot begin to express my level of gratitude. I was not feeling well in December, so I went to see Dr. William Downey in Charlotte. He discovered my body was rejecting a patch that was surgically placed over a hole in my heart a few years ago. He and Dr. R. Mark Stiegel immediately went to work on correcting the problem. I also want to thank the great counsel along the way by Dr. Jerry Petty, Dr. Robert Heyer and my hematologist Dr. Stephan Moll from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine who is the founder of www.clotconnect.org. "Now all of my focus is getting ready so when I return we are prepared to win races and the championship in my Aaron's Dream Machine."(MWR)(1-21-2015)
How much will the testing ban save teams? From Larry McReynold's most recent article at FoxSports: "It doesn't matter what rules NASCAR hands down -- be them about testing, the type of cars, etc. -- the cream is still always going to rise to the top. Now it's true that some rule changes affect some teams more than others. I think we saw that last year with the rule changes for the 2014 season. Last year there probably wasn't a single week that at least one of the teams from the powerhouse organizations wasn't testing someplace while the smaller teams sat at home unable to afford to go test. So if anything, this rule closes the gap a little bit between the smaller teams and the bigger organizations. The biggest thing this no-testing rule does is save the owners money. In talking with car owner Michael Waltrip, he told me it's going to save his organization anywhere from $1.25 million to $1.5 million in 2015. Any way you slice it, that is significant savings for anyone.(FoxSports)(1-8-2015)
Toyoda Machinery partners with MWR: Toyoda Machinery USA announced its partnership agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing in early December. "Partnering with a top NASCAR team is something we've wanted to do for quite some time," said Tim Leoni, Toyoda's vice president of sales, "Because of our company's automotive background, it makes sense that we team up with one of Toyota Racing Development's top NASCAR outfits. This synergy is something the engineers will immediately recognize in the shop, the crew will feel in the pits, and the fans will see on the track." With this partnership, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) has added four Toyoda vertical machining centers to its shop floor. MWR selected Toyoda's FV1165 and FV1565 machines for their 8,000 RPM, geared head spindles and robust construction. Steel parts, such as the spring buckets, center links, and idler arms, are all machined on the boxway series. "Our tools have to have a long reach to be able to machine around different suspension components," explained Dale Brown, machine shop supervisor at MWR, "We needed a couple of really good, rigid machines to do some of the heavy machining." The timing of the Toyoda installation couldn't come at a better time for MWR. The end of the racing season is when the shop begins putting in long hours building cars for next year. Brown said the shop is looking forward to improved quality and productivity with the Toyoda machines. "Everything fits together really tight. It seems to be a really good, quality machine."(MWR)(1-2-2015)
Vickers to miss start of season: Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers will not be available to race during the early part of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season due to health issues. In 58 races driving MWR's #55 Aaron's Toyota, Vickers scored eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He won the July race at New Hampshire in 2013 and captured the pole at Talladega in October 2014. The 2003 Nationwide champion owns three victories and 12 poles in 316 career Sprint Cup starts. "Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian, his wife Sarah and the Vickers family," said MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman. "As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron's and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available."
VICKERS STATEMENT: "First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support. I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again. My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body. Late last week I knew something wasn't right, so I went to the hospital to be checked out. Following several tests, it was discovered that my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. Saturday, I had to have corrective surgery to repair the hole and now I am beginning the recovery process. I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion."(MWR)(12-15-2014)
Congrats...twice for #55 crewman: Rear tire carrier on the MWR #55 Toyota Blake Haugland started his honeymoon with wife Melissa in Cozumel Mexico by competing in the Cozumel Ironman, Sunday November 30th. Blake finished the ironman in 12:07:42 by Swimming 2.4Miles in 1:12:41, Biking 112.5 Miles in 6:24:46 and Running 26.2 Miles in 4:19:03.Finishing 74th in his division, 432 overall out of a field of 2292 athletes.(12-4-2014)
Ariz. State To Honor Former Tight End Now #55 Jackman: Wes Evans, a former tight end on Arizona State's 2008 football team will be honored on the Sun Devil Stadium video board Saturday night when his alma mater takes on highly ranked Notre Dame. Less than 24 hours later he'll serve as jackman on Brian Vickers' #55 Aaron's Dream Machine pit crew in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at nearby Phoenix International Raceway. "It seems like it was just yesterday when I was playing at ASU," laughed the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder who made four starts and played in all 12 games for ASU in 2008. That year he won the team's iron man award for exemplary work ethic in the weight room, on the field and in the community. Evans became interested in NASCAR after meeting pit crew members who visited the ASU campus for a workout in 2007. That contact led Evans to a life as a NASCAR pit crew member and his ASU degree led him to a job in the Michael Waltrip Racing marketing office. Each week Evans hosts the "Wednesday's With Wes- Ask MWR" video feature on the team website answering viewer questions about NASCAR racing.(MWR)(11-7-2014)
Waltrip eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars": Michael Waltrip's ballroom dancing career has come to a close on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" as he was eliminated from the show Monday night. Week eight's theme was "Dynamic Duos" and Waltrip and partner Emma Slater performed a foxtrot as Tarzan and Jane to "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins. Waltrip and Slater received a score of 25 out of 40.(scores and more at NASCAR.com and ABC News)(11-4-2014)
Vickers tests 2015 Camry at Auto Club: Brian Vickers and the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine team at Michael Waltrip Racing got a jump on the 2015 season testing the newly unveiled 2015 Toyota Camry this week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. Vickers on testing the 2015 Camry: "It was good to get some time behind the wheel of the 2015 Camry (on Tuesday.) We brought a lot of engineers from MWR and Toyota Racing Development to Fontana to work on the car. I don't know if you have ever been to a test, but it isn't very exciting for a race car driver. I drive for a couple of laps, tell them what I feel, then the engineers will pour over the data, make some changes and back I go out on the track. We just repeat that throughout the day. It might not be as fun as racing but testing is where we learn what the Goodyear tires, our car and engine like and don't like. I enjoy the science behind testing. The more you learn in testing the better you will be in the race. With the reduction in testing planned for next season, days like this are very valuable. So far I love what I see with the new Camry. It looks good, and drives good."(MWR)(10-30-2014)
Kahne and Vickers disagree on actions of one another: In the case of #5-Kasey Kahne vs. #55-Brian Vickers, it's he said, he said. Kahne claims innocence, while Vickers didn't hesitate in his accusations. The two drivers were involved in a Lap-161 incident that left Vickers without a hood on his car and looking for payback. Kahne, feeling pressure from leader Jeff Gordon, caught Vickers in the left-rear corner panel of his car in Turn 4, sending the #55 around and into the inside wall. The Hendrick Motorsports driver said he had no intention of spinning Vickers, but that Vickers was using every lane that he could, coming close to hitting Kahne earlier in the lap in Turn 2. "I was passing him and he ran me into the Turn 2 wall or he was going to, so I lifted. Then he blocked into 3, so I turned to go low and then he comes low and spun himself out," Kahne said after being released from the infield care center for an unrelated incident on Lap 438. Vickers disagreed. "He definitely wrecked us on purpose the first time, I mean look at the video," Vickers said. "He just hooked us in the bumper and just wrecked us, I don't know why."
Vickers showed his displeasure 61 laps later. Going into Turn 1 and with Kahne on his outside, Vickers veered his car to the right and into Kahne's #5 Chevy. Kahne spun and hit the outside wall and would go to the garage for repairs until Lap 253. It only took 25 laps for Kahne to find Vickers again, turning him around in Turn 2 with 222 laps to go. Vickers was heard on the radio saying "we could do this all day." However, any further retaliation was squashed by a warning issued by NASCAR.(Sporting News)(10-27-2014)
Toyota teams have limited time to test new Camry: Toyota unveiled its 2015 Sprint Cup Camry on Saturday with five weeks left in the 2014 season. That means the teams have five weeks to test. With a testing ban going into effect after Nov. 16's 2014 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing will experiment with the car. The 2015 car conforms with NASCAR's new lower horsepower, less downforce rules package. "We'll be at Nashville and things like that," MWR driver Clint Bowyer said. "We have (Goodyear test at) Auto Club Speedway, we have a Phoenix test coming up. We've got opportunities to get in this race car. I really see the new rule package that NASCAR has implemented being a bigger change feel-wise for a driver than this new car. If you're going to unveil a new car, this is a perfect time to do that because it's basically start over from scratch across the board for everybody."
The 2015 car includes changes to the hood, nose, tail and quarter windows. Both Ford and Chevy racing engineers were present at wind tunnel tests conducted by NASCAR to approve the Toyota design. "We hope it races better," said Dave Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development. "But realistically, practically speaking, it's not outside the box. It's still working with the same set of rules that we've had. We've got until the Sunday of Homestead. We'll test our guts out. We'll have this car on the race track a couple of times." While his drivers will want to test, JGR owner Joe Gibbs said the team must focus on 2014. All three of his drivers remain in the hunt for the title. "It'll be hard" to test, Gibbs said. "Our whole focus is on right now with where we are with the Chase and everything. I can't see us being able to do much."(Sporting News)(10-12-2014)
Waltrip makes it past third in Dancing with the Stars: Michael Waltrip and his partner Emma Slater made it past the third round of the multi-award-winning series Dancing with the Stars Monday night. Waltrip and Slater danced a waltz on Monday's show, earning a score of 28 from the judges (MWR)(10-2-2014)
Waltrip survives first round of Dancing with the Stars: Michael Waltrip and his partner Emma Slater made it past the first round of the multi-award-winning series Dancing with the Stars Tuesday night. Waltrip and Slater danced the Cha-Cha on Monday's show. The pair earned a score of 25 from the judges. That paired with votes from fans was enough to advance the duo to the next round which airs Monday, Sept. 22 at 8:00pm/et on ABC. One couple will be eliminated on a live results show, Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 8:00pm/et on ABC.(MWR)(9-17-2014)
Tires stolen from Chicago garage: One week it's a fan on the fence, the next week tires are stolen in the garage. Just who is policing the paddock? On Saturday night tires were lifted from the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and the #83 BK Racing Toyota teams prior to Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway. The tires from Brian Vickers car were later discovered dumped in another area in the garage, the team told Motorsport.com. However, the scuff and rim from Ryan Truex's car was never recovered according to team owner Ron Devine. Tires cost roughly $500 each.(Motorsport)(9-15-2014)
Special scheme for Vickers: #55 Aaron's Dream Machine driver Brian Vickers has a lot to race for in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season's final 10 races. Although, the Michael Waltrip Racing team won't be in the Chase, the #55 crew has its sights set on a return trip to victory lane and preparation for its second season together in 2015. The #55 will carry a special paint scheme this weekend honoring Samsung as Aaron's vendor partner of the year. In addition to the paint scheme, Aaron's will host Samsung executives at-track in appreciation of their long standing partnership.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(9-12-2014)
Michael Waltrip to Dance with the Stars UPDATE: NASCAR will have representation on the ABC hit show "Dancing with the Stars". The New York Daily News reports that Michael Waltrip will the season 19 cast is announced. Waltrip is a two-time Daytona 500 champion and currently part owner of Michael Waltrip Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. His older brother Darrell Waltrip is a three-time NASCAR champion who now works as a NASCAR analyst for Fox Sports. The 51-year-old Owensboro Kentucky native still races occasionally as well as provides color TV commentary for NASCAR races and programming. Waltrip has made three NASCAR Sprint Cup starts this season, two at Daytona International Speedway and one at Talladega Superspeedway; his best finish was 19th at the Daytona race in July.(Examiner)(9-3-2014)
UPDATE: This season's cast of celebrity dancers includes a fashion icon, a YouTube sensation, a NASCAR legend, and a movie star, to name a few. The stars will grace the ballroom floor for the first time on live national television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," which airs Monday, September 15 (8:00-10:01pm/et) on the ABC Television Network. The thirteen professional dancers teaching the celebrity cast how to bring heat to the dance floor are Mark Ballas, Cheryl Burke, Sharna Burgess, Witney Carson, Artem Chigvintsev, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, Allison Holker, Derek Hough, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Emma Slater and Karina Smirnoff. Two-time Mirrorball champion and movie star Julianne Hough joins Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba at the judges' desk. As announced this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" by "Dancing with the Stars" hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, the 13 celebrities with their professional partners heading to the dance floor this season (in alphabetical order) are: Jonathan Bennett, Tommy Chong, Randy Couture, Betsey Johnson, Lolo Jones, Bethany Mota, Janel Parrish, Alfonso Ribeiro, Sadie Robertson, Antonio Sabato Jr., Tavis Smiley, Lea Thompson,
AND Michael Waltrip is a winning professional racecar driver, founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, a widely recognized network racing commentator and author of a best-selling biography. Waltrip is a two-time winner of NASCAR's crown jewel event, the Daytona 500, and is one of only two drivers in history to hold victories in NASCAR's three top tier divisions over four consecutive decades. Waltrip still competes on a limited basis, posting two top 10 finishes in just four events in 2013. In recent years, Waltrip has driven in international events, competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as events in Spa, Belgium, Sebring and Dubai. The Kentucky native founded Michael Waltrip Racing and his organization brought Toyota Motor Corporation into NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in 2007, where his teams have won seven times and finished runner-up in the championship standings in 2012. As an expert commentator on Fox Sports 1 for the Camping World Truck series and an analyst for NASCAR on FOX during NASCAR Sprint Cup races, Waltrip has established himself as one of the industry's most respected voices and biggest personalities. In 2011, Michael published his best-selling book In the Blink of an Eye, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his historic 2001 Daytona 500 victory on the same day his mentor, boss, friend and owner, Dale Earnhardt, perished on the final lap. His story spent 11 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Away from the track, Waltrip has competed in four marathons, including the Boston Marathon and his own marathon event, which raised more than $1,000,000 for charity. His humorous demeanor launched a multi-stop Comedy Tour in 2010. Waltrip will partner with Emma Slater.
More info on the contestants, voting and the show at ABC.com.(ABC)(9-4-2014)
Waltrip says dropping third team not cause for MWR's struggles: MWR team co-owner Michael Waltrip won't blame the cut from three teams to two as a reason for his team's struggles. The aerodynamic rules for 2014 are different and it appears the Toyotas are behind Hendrick in horsepower. "I don't think the cut to two teams hurt us at all," Waltrip said earlier this week at an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We were prepared for that. There were just a lot that went on during the offseason with the no ride-height rule. That was a really difficult engineering process to get your arms around." Waltrip said he would give his team a grade of "B" on the season. The team has started producing some new cars that should help. "Our counterparts over at JGR haven't had a tremendous amount of success, either," Waltrip said. "We understand that we're just lacking for a little bit of speed. When that's the case, you work on everything you can and you have more sense of urgency. That's where both organizations are right now, building the best cars they can and proving them the best they can and looking forward to the next race and seeing if we can get more speed."(Sporting News)(8-9-2014)
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)
Daytona International Speedway
Happy Hour Practice:
Friday, July 3, 2015, 6:30 pm/et
TV: NBCSN 4:30pm/et
Born in JUNE
30 Sterling Marlin, Lyndon Amick, Don Miller, Blake Parrott, Allen Bestwick III, Ron Liddell, Chad Tigert, Troy Prince
Born in JULY
1 Mario 'the Gonz' Monzo, Ryan Mathews, David Caraviello, Shannon McGlamery
2 Richard Petty, Sam Hornish Jr., Kevin Henson, Robert Ingram, Bill Seifert
3 Larry Phillips, Jimmy Horton, Kimberle "Paige" Burton, Tyler Rader, Darlene DeRosa, Daniel Smith
4 The USA, Steve Addington, Susan Brewer
5 Bob Labonte, Delano Wood, Chris Golder
6 Todd Kluever, Caron Myers, Joe Dan Bailey, Gere Kennon, Heidi Bodine, Delma Cowart, Gwyn Staley
7 Dolores Adamczyk, Stevie Waltrip, Landon Cassill, DeLana Harvick, Stan Fox, Michelle Fizer, Nealie Stufflet
8 Leo Jackson, Keelan Harvick
9 Bon Scott, Stephen Witzke, Donnie Richeson, G.C. Spencer
10 Adam Petty, Brendan Gaughan, Gabi DiCarlo, Skip Jefferson, Jeff Curtis
11 Adam Alexander, Bobby Dotter, Bill Wilburn, James Mashburn, Don DeCecco
12 Benny Parsons, Rick Hendrick, Jim Baldwin, Tom Carey, Tommy Baldwin III, Eric Jones
13 Brad Parrott, Keith Almond, Cheech Marin
14 Jimmy Elledge, Derrick Finley, Jeff Patterson
15 Martha Earnhardt, Matthew Francis, Henry Benfield, Shawn Marie Marcis, Bob Marcis
16 Dakoda Armstrong, Ashlyn Newman, Phil Ditmars, Ed Negre, Wayne Anderson, Chandra Johnson, Jim Rathmann, D.J. Kennington
17 Hoyt Overbagh, Cameron Alice Hill, Eddie Dickerson, Joe Garone, Slick Poston, Monty Self
18 Glen Wood, Nick Ollila, Dan Glauz, Rick Hodges
19 Ray J. Evernham, Wayne Grubb, Brooks Bishop, Miles Bishop
20 Dr. Rose Mattioli, Chad Chaffin, Ronnie Silver, Pete Hamilton
21 Klaus Graf, Gerry Kulwicki, Dave Skog
23 Kurt Umscheid, Jenny Markle, Richie Evans, Buckshot Jones, Larry Wallace
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, Rich Vogler, 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