Contract Status: Driver: was 2017 but will leave as MWR will cease operations after 2015; Primary Sponsor: Five Hour 2017 moves with Bowyer, Peak Motor Oil 2015; Manufacturer: 2015
Clint Bowyer comments on wrecking at Homestead: #15-Bowyer comments on being involved in a wreck in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on lap 45 of the race:
Q) What happened to take you out of the race?
Bowyer: "I don't know what in the hell happened to our car. I was kind of optimistic about the race. We made a pit stop there and the car was just a way big handful there. I don't know, I was coming off of (turn) 2 there and Ty (Dillon) kind of got squirrely and I tried to stay off of him and my car got loose and I just couldn't catch it. I don't know, we just lost the handling on our car big time there. Unfortunately ended - you hate to end this way. I wanted to end on a strong note for everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). Appreciate all of their hard work and efforts all these years but unfortunately it's over."(Toyota Racing)(11-22-2015)
Last Race for Michael Waltrip Racing: Sunday's 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway marks Michael Waltrip Racing's final weekend of full-time competition. Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion, began the team in the mid-1990s at his house in Sherrill's Ford, N.C., competing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. In 2007, MWR began fielding full-time Sprint Cup entries as the flagship team for Toyota Racing Development, USA. MWR is the only original Toyota team still in competition. MWR owns seven Sprint Cup victories and four Chase berths. Going into Homestead, MWR cars have made 780 starts, earned seven poles and posted 73 top-five finishes. MWR victories by driver: Clint Bowyer, 3, David Reutimann, 2, Martin Truex and Brian Vickers with one each. In the XFINITY Series, MWR won four times with Waltrip behind the wheel and once with David Reutimann. MWR also fielded entries in eight truck series races. Sunday also marks the end of a partnership with 5-hour ENERGY and MWR. The company has been a proud partner of the team and Bowyer since the driver joined the organization in 2012. Bowyer earned three wins, 27 top-five and 69 top-10 finishes with 5-hour ENERGY on board his Toyota. PEAK and AAA Mid-Atlantic also enjoyed a multi-year relationship with MWR and Bowyer. Peak also supports Bowyer's dirt late model teams. Maxwell House joined with the organization earlier this year and sponsored Bowyer in four Sprint Cup races (MWR)(11-22-2015)
Allgaier to start from the back after pit road contact in qualifying: The front of #51-Justin Allgaier's car was damaged in a bizarre incident Saturday during qualifying with the driver who will take his ride next season. Clint Bowyer, who will replace Allgaier at HScott Motorsports next year, backed into Allgaier's car on pit road before going on to the track to make his qualifying attempt at Talladega Superspeedway. "I can honestly say I've never experienced anything like that," Allgaier said. Said Bowyer: "I felt terrible. You've got to leave pretty aggressively. As soon as I let the clutch out, it was going the wrong direction. That's the craziest thing I've seen or have had happen in my life. It was in reverse." Allgaier will start at the rear of the field after his crew makes repairs. Allgaier, though, wasn't as worried about where he'll start. Allgaier said some duct work was damaged. "We're having to fit back up the actual aluminum structure that connects the radiator to the front grille, and, obviously, that's a pretty crucial point. I'm not sure it will be 100 percent, but I think it we can probably get it 95 percent back to where it was before. It definitely isn"t ideal by any means."(NBC Sports)(10-25-2015)
Peak and BlueDEF sponsoring Bowyer for two races in 2016: HScott Motorsports announced it has reached an agreement with Old World Industries (OWI) to sponsor Clint Bowyer's Chevy during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season with brands PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid. The OWI brands will be featured as primary sponsor at Watkins Glen International and Chicagoland Speedway, and as an associate sponsor for all remaining races during 2016. Bowyer and PEAK have been in partnership since 2012, a relationship which includes Clint Bowyer Racing's dirt track racing teams. The PEAK Motor Oil and PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant brands that have adorned Bowyer's cars since 2012 are products in the portfolio of Old World Industries LLC., a company specializing in Automobile and Heavy-Duty vehicle products manufacturing and marketing. BlueDEF is a complete brand of diesel exhaust fluid and equipment, which reduces diesel engine emissions and increases fuel mileage. BlueDEF is the No. 1 DEF brand in the United States. 5-hour ENERGY will serve as Bowyer's primary sponsor for 24 races in 2016. Scott said there are still primary sponsorship opportunities open on the car for 2016.(HScott Motorspots)(10-21-2015)
Special name on Bowyer's car at Charlotte: #15-Clint Bowyer has a little extra incentive to make it to victory lane this weekend at Charlotte. Bowyer will replace his name above the passenger side door with a very special name. Tiffany Dale is currently battling breast cancer. Bowyer and the 5-hour ENERGY family will show their support for the fifth-grade math teacher and mother of two from Nashville, Tenn., with the inclusion of her name on the car this weekend (MWR)(10-8-2015)
Bowyer to announce plans, to the #51 in 2016 UPDATE: HScott Motorsports is expected to announce next weekend at Dover that Bowyer will drive the #51 Chevy in 2016. The announcement will come after Wednesday's press conference, which will detail Bowyer's eventual move to Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy in 2017.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Tony Stewart will be stepping out from the behind the wheel of the #14 at the conclusion of next season. Sponsor 5-hour Energy will continue with Bowyer at HScott.(Motorsport.com)(9-27-2015)
UPDATE: HScott Motorsports announced that Clint Bowyer and 5-hour ENERGY will join the team for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Bowyer and 5-hour ENERGY have been partners for four seasons, winning three races and finishing runner-up in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Starting with the Feb. 21, 2016, Daytona 500, Bowyer will race Chevys for HScott in a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. "I am very thankful for the continued support and commitment from 5-hour ENERGY, and for Harry Scott Jr. for putting this opportunity together," said Bowyer. "My relationship with everyone at 5-hour ENERGY is something I hold with great value. There have been some real unknowns for my career in the past couple of months, but I'm happy that my future is secured and full speed ahead." HScott Motorsports has competed full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for two seasons, fielding Chevrolets with Hendrick Motorsports support. HScott Motorsports team owner Harry Scott Jr., said this is a watershed moment for his young organization. "This is a really important step for HScott Motorsports and one I felt our team needed to take to elevate to the next level of NASCAR Sprint Cup competition," said Scott. "Clint is a proven winner and Chase participant. For us to compete at a higher level we needed all of the right elements to come together. I believe those elements came together with the driver in Clint, sponsorship from 5-hour ENERGY and the extended relationship with Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas. This opportunity has brought an unprecedented level of excitement to our entire organization."(HScott Motorsports)
AND: Harry Scott says they have not decided if they will have two or three teams next season. Bowyer is likely to replace Justin Allgaier in the #51.(10-2-2015)
NASCAR Penalty Report / Chicago; MWR Appeal denied:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
· The #10 team has been penalized for an infraction that occurred during pre-qualifying inspection on Sept. 18. This is a P2 level penalty (Sections 12.1 and 20.4b and 20.4.2a of the NASCAR rule book). The right side quarter panel behind the rear wheel/tire was modified during pre-qualifying inspection. Crew chief Daniel Knost has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, 2015. Car chief Pete White has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, 2015.
· The #15 team has been penalized for an infraction that occurred on opening day inspection Sept.18. This is a P4 level penalty (Section 12.1, 20. 14.c, 184.108.40.206.k, 220.127.116.11.d, 18.104.22.168.1.d & f, 22.214.171.124.2 of the NASCAR rule book). Crew chief Billy W. Scott has been fined $75,000, suspended for the next three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship events and placed on NASCAR probation for six months following the issue of suspension. Driver Clint Bowyer has been penalized 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points. Car owner Rob Kauffman has been penalized 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Owner points. NASCAR has requested to the Appeals Administrator of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel that the appeals process described in the rule book be expedited.
AND NASCAR issued the penalty -- P4 on its P1-to-P6 scale with P6 being the most severe -- for violation of the rule that forbids washers or other components that allow movement of certain track bar joints or mounting bolts. Permitting those rear-end suspension components to move would allow the car to handle better in the corners (ESPN).
NASCAR XFINITY Series
· The #18 team has been penalized for an infraction that occurred during pre-race on Sept. 19. This is a P2 level penalty (Sections 12.1 and 20.4b and 20.4.2a of the NASCAR rule book). The right side vertical extension panel (side skirt) was modified after pre-race inspection. Crew chief Eric P. Phillips has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, 2015. Crew member John P. Egbert Jr. has been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, 2015.
· The #54 car failed heights during post-race inspection on Sept. 19. This is a P2 level penalty (Sections 12.1, 126.96.36.199.1. b & c, 188.8.131.52.2.b & c, 184.108.40.206.1.f, 220.127.116.11.2.a.b & d of the NASCAR rule book). Crew chief Christopher W. Gayle has been fined $12,500 and placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31, 2015. Car owner J. D. Gibbs has been penalized 10 series championship owner points.(NASCAR)
MWR Statement: Michael Waltrip Racing respectfully disagrees with today's penalties and plans to immediately appeal. MWR has made mistakes in the past, but we feel we are correct in this instance. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case to the appeals committee and have no further public comment until the process is completed.(MWR)(9-23-2015)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip Racing officially filed an appeal Thursday of the championship-crippling penalties levied against Clint Bowyer's team. Crew chief Billy Scott's three-race suspension has been deferred through the appeal process. The appeal will be heard Wednesday. Scott will work this weekend at New Hampshire, and MWR has denied wrongdoing. The points deduction for Bowyer remains in effect through the appeals process, which means that reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick moves up to 15th in the standings.(Associated Press)(9-24-2015)
UPDATE 2: The National Motorsports Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of a P4 penalty issued on Sept. 23 to Rob Kauffman (owner), Clint Bowyer (driver), and Billy W. Scott (crew chief) relative to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series vehicle #15 at Chicagoland Speedway. The penalty concerns the following sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book: Sections 12.1, 20.14c, 18.104.22.168.k, 22.214.171.124.d, 126.96.36.199.1.d&f, 188.8.131.52.2. The original penalty assessed included a $75,000 fine, three-race suspension and six months' probation for Scott and loss of 25 championship car owner and 25 championship driver points to both Kauffman and Bowyer. Upon hearing the testimony, the decisions of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel are:
1. The Appellants violated the Rule or Rules set forth in the Penalty Notice.
2. That the Panel affirms and upholds the original Penalty assessed by NASCAR.
The panel consisted of the following three individuals: Mr. Paul Brooks, Mr. Bill Lester, Mr. Bill Mullis.
The Appellants have the right to appeal the decision of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer in accordance with Section 15 of the NASCAR Rule Book as the Expedited Final Appeal. The deadline for filing is 5pm/et on Sept. 30.(NASCAR)(9-30-2015)
UPDATE 2: Statement from Michael Waltrip Racing: "We are disappointed with the outcome of today's ruling and still feel out interpretation is within the guidelines. Rather than continue the appeals process, MWR is ready to focus 100 person of our company's resources on winning at Dover and trying to advance to the Contender Round of the Chase of the NASCAR Sprint Cup.(MWR)(9-30-2015)
Stewart announces retirement after 2016 season; Bowyer to replace in 2017: After 17 years competing at NASCAR's highest level, Tony Stewart has decided his 18th year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be his last. The three-time series champion will retire following the 2016 season, whereupon Clint Bowyer will take the wheel of the #14 machine beginning in 2017. Since 2009 Stewart has held the dual title of driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). He co-owns the team with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. Stewart will join Haas as a fulltime owner in 2017, with Bowyer being Stewart's hand-picked successor to drive the No. 14 car.
"This is a moment every driver eventually comes to terms with, and I know this is the right decision for me," said Stewart, owner of 48 Sprint Cup victories, 15 of which have come with SHR. "2016 will be my last year in a Sprint Cup car, but it's not my last year in NASCAR. I love this sport and I love being a part of it, and instead of seeing me in a firesuit on Sundays, you'll see me in a pair of jeans, and maybe even a pair of khakis. I plan to make the most of my final year as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and part of that is to ensure that when Clint Bowyer takes over the No. 14 in 2017, he has everything he needs to win races and contend for the championship. I'm very comfortable with this decision and what the future holds for me and Stewart-Haas Racing."
Bowyer is an eight-time race winner in the Sprint Cup Series and finished second in the 2012 championship standings.
"Today is an incredible opportunity and I'm proud and excited to take over the #14 in 2017," said Bowyer, the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion. "Whether it's racing him on Sunday or watching my dirt late model teams race at his famed Eldora Speedway, Tony and I share the same passion for racing. That makes this opportunity a perfect fit for me. I appreciate everything he's done for me and the sport of auto racing. These are big shoes to fill, but boy am I ever looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a champion's ride, and have Tony there with me along the way."
Haas, who formed Haas CNC Racing in 2002 before partnering with Stewart to create SHR in 2009, embraces the transition.
"Tony Stewart has been a game-changer for Stewart-Haas Racing and for motorsports," Haas said. "I always had an incredible amount of respect for what he could do with a racecar - any racecar, as he's been successful in everything he's ever driven. In getting to know Tony Stewart the businessman, I found a very smart person with excellent people skills. He's extremely valuable to our race team and a strong voice in our sport. His passion for motorsports is unmatched, and I'm proud that his future outside of the #14 Chevrolet remains with Stewart-Haas Racing."
The primary partners currently represented on the No. 14 Chevrolet include Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, Code 3 Associates, Coca-Cola, Jimmy Johns and Haas Automation. Announcements regarding the partnership lineup for the #14 team in 2016 and beyond will be made in the lead up to the 58th Daytona 500 on Feb. 21 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
"I have been blessed with fantastic partners throughout my racing career, and I take a lot of pride in the lifelong friendships formed and the great business successes we've been a part of," Stewart said. "I never would've accomplished all that I've achieved in racing if it weren't for the support of corporate America. They helped a kid from Columbus, Indiana, reach his dreams and I'll be forever grateful."(Stewart-Haas Racing)
Statement from NASCAR Chairman Brian France: "When I think of Tony Stewart, unmatched passion and a pure love of the sport come to mind. He has won championships and millions of fans. But he has given back so much more, and that's what I admire most. Today's news was bittersweet for all, but we know Tony will continue to be a big part of our sport in his roles as a team and track owner. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Tony for his many years of excellence and competitiveness, and wish him nothing but the best in his final season as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series."
Statement from Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevy: "Tony Stewart has been a key member of our racing family for nearly 20 years. The majority of his race wins and championships-regardless of series-have been with our brands. Not only is he a championship-winning driver and team owner, he is an entrepreneur and gives back to numerous charities. Through his Tony Stewart Foundation, he pours his heart into causes that support children, animals and others in need of assistance. We value our long-standing partnership with Tony and look forward to joining his fans in celebrating his final season as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series."(Chevy PR)(9-30-2015)
Stewart to retire after 2016 season UPDATE2: Tony Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, plans to retire after the 2016 season, team and industry sources told ESPN's Marty Smith. Mired in one of the worst seasons of his career at 25th in the standings, Stewart will run one final season before handing over the driving duties of the Stewart-Haas Racing #14 Chevy to Clint Bowyer, sources said. #15-Bowyer is driving for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2015, but that team is closing operations after the season. He does not currently have a ride for 2016. Stewart won the Sprint Cup in 2002, 2005 and 2011. He missed out on the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year after posting zero wins and two top-10s leading up to the Chase. The 45-year-old Stewart is tied for 13th in career victories with 48. Stewart, who has 582 career Cup starts, missed the final 15 races of the 2013 season with a broken leg suffered in a sprint car accident. He missed three races last season after the sprint car he was racing struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., who had approached Stewart's car on foot at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.(ESPN.com / Motorsport.com)(9-27-2015)
UPDATE: Stewart-Haas Racing has scheduled a news conference for 1:00pm/et on Wednesday at the team's Kannapolis, N.C., headquarters, at which time driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart is expected to announce that 2016 will his last season behind the wheel. Gene Haas, Stewart's partner, will attend the news conference, the team confirmed.(FOXSports.com)(9-28-2015) UPDATE2: Tony Stewart will step away from Sprint Cup competition following the 2016 season, NASCAR.com has confirmed from multiple sources. A press conference at Stewart-Haas Racing's North Carolina shop is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to announce the plans, which will include naming Clint Bowyer to drive Stewart's #14 Chevy beginning in 2017. NASCAR.com will live stream the 1 p.m. ET announcement at NASCAR.com/presspass.(NASCAR.com)(9-28-2015)
Truex, Kurt Busch, Bowyer comment on contracts: #78-Martin Truex Jr. and #41-Kurt Busch expect to stay with their current teams, indicating Thursday that their deals are imminent and just announcements await. Neither Truex nor Busch was expected to go anywhere. Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone has said it's been the team's intent to re-sign Truex. Stewart-Haas Racing officials have said they have a handshake deal done with Busch. But it still is a rare scenario: Three Chase-qualified drivers (Truex, Busch and Clint Bowyer) enter the opener this weekend without deals announced for next year. "I'm very fortunate I have a great race team," said Truex, who rebounded from 24th in the standings in his first year at Furniture Row to win a race and be 10th entering the Chase this year. "At the end of the day, this sport is all about timing, it's all about being at the right place at the right time. ... There were times last year where I thought, 'Am I ever going to get back to where I once was.' Now suddenly I feel like I'm better than I ever was, and it's kind of an awesome thing. You'll hear an announcement [of an extension] pretty soon. This sport, every year, it gets later and later and later [to get deals done]."
Busch said talks continue with potential sponsors in addition to Haas, whose Haas Automation is the primary sponsor for Busch. "Everything is pretty close," Busch said. "We'll have the announcement soon. It's great to know that the team and myself and everybody is on the same page. ... Everybody is going through the talks and checking the different positions and the temperatures of certain situations. We'll have some things to announce here soon."
The one Chase-qualified driver who appears unsure of what he's doing is Bowyer, who began looking for a 2016 ride last month after Michael Waltrip Racing announced it would cease operations after this season. Bowyer declined to say which teams he still is negotiating with. "We're digging, honestly," Bowyer said. "I'm working on that. I think we're getting close. I'm excited. Holy cow, who would have ever thought in a million years that would happen eight months into a three-year contract? When you sign three-year contracts, that means you put the contract in the desk and you forget about it and you're secure and you're happy and you're good for three years, right? No, that's not right. I've learned that is not correct." (ESPN.com)(9-17-2015)
MWR Points for sale; RCR? Penske?: Before the fire sale begins at Michael Waltrip Racing, team owner Rob Kauffman has isolated a few assets that could bring a handsome price prior to the dissolution of the company at season's end. Among the coveted commodities remaining in the MWR inventory are the points from the #15 and #55 Toyotas. Two organizations that could be interested in obtaining those points are Richard Childress Racing for Ty Dillon and the Wood Brothers for Team Penske protege Ryan Blaney. Team owner Richard Childress said that the organization is still working on Dillon's schedule for next season but acknowledged,"Yeah, we're talking to some people about points in case we run him full-time next year. As of now, we're still in the making. We're still trying to find out the way to go."
Similarly, owner Roger Penske is contemplating Blaney's future. "We definitely want to work something out where we can run Blaney the whole season," Penske said. "Hopefully, a combination with the Woods or something here. We'll just have to see how the whole thing works out."(Motorsport)(9-11-2015)
Bowyer comments on 2016: #15-Clint Bowyer met with the media at Richmond and one question was about his 2016 plans.
Q) How much progress have you made toward where you will race in 2016?
Bowyer: "I think first of all it's very humbling, the phone calls. As soon as the news comes out that you're not going to have a future at your present employment, obviously you're nervous and you're worried about what that means for yourself or your people and with everything. It's humbling the people that have reached out and been interested in me, but truth be told man, look what we're in the middle of. Timing is good that it's ahead and not the end of the year that you're finding this out, but nonetheless it's pretty crunching times right here and it's like I told them, 'I don't want to use the word back burner, but let's just take a timeout right here for a couple weeks and take care of business.' That's kind of what we did this week. I stayed at the farm, Lorra (Bowyer) went to New York City with her girlfriends for a couple days and me and little man chilled out. I used a little help. Grandma showed up quite a bit, I ain't going to lie to you. She made sure I was under control and then she would go."(Toyota Racing)(9-11-2015)
Bowyer to Stewart-Haas? in 2017? or to HScott Motorsports? UPDATES: the biggest question is Clint Bowyer, 36, who controls his future today as much as he did when he left Richard Childress Racing to join MWR. With no apparent openings at major teams for next season, Bowyer might need a placeholder ride for a year - much like Kasey Kahne when he drove for Red Bull Racing before joining Hendrick's four-car juggernaut. After that, Bowyer would have more options. The garage has been buzzing for a few months about the possibility of Bowyer joining Stewart-Haas Racing, but to replace who? Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick is locked in. Danica Patrick just signed a multi-year contract extension. And co-owner Tony Stewart said Tuesday that Kurt Busch's extension will be done "soon." That could leave Stewart, who is struggling to be competitive and has his best years behind him at 44. Could Bowyer drive at SHR in 2017? SHR spokesman Mike Arning told USA TODAY Sports the team wasn't commenting "out of respect for the situation involving Michael Waltrip Racing and its personnel." In the meantime, it doesn't sound like hooking up with Ganassi for one year is an option for Bowyer if Kauffman buys into the team, as the owner stated he planned to. Kauffman said he and Bowyer "agreed we would go our separate ways at the end of the season and I wish him well in whatever direction he pursues."(USA Today)
AND Perhaps the dissolution of MWR was the ticket Bowyer needed to move on. Despite entering the first year of a three-year renewal to drive the No. 15 Toyota, a dissolution of MWR would certainly enable Bowyer to pursue others options. In fact, he and Kaufmann have already agreed to go separate ways. If the rumor mill is right, Bowyer is headed to HScott Motorsports. Richard Petty Motorsports made Bowyer an offer several years ago and is interested in him again. But this is why HMS makes sense: Despite Harry Scott Jr. playing coy at Watkins Glen, following a salmon fishing trip with Bowyer in British Columbia, multiple sources say HScott Motorports could offer Bowyer a ride until a premiere seat opens up. Bowyer has been mentioned as the heir apparent for the #14 Chevy once Tony Stewart retires.
Initially, the assumption was that Bowyer would join Kauffman in his move to Chip Ganassi Racing. However, the current plan for CGR in 2016 is to run just two teams. Bowyer's statement on Wednesday offered no indication of his future plans, other than it would not include Kauffman or MWR.(Motorsport)(8-20-2015)
UPDATE: Claire B. Lang reported on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Friday evening that Clint Bowyer would move to HScott Motorsports in 2016 and then on to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 to replace Tony Stewart.
UPDATE 2: Nate Ryan reported on NASCAR America Saturday afternoon that HScott Motorsports says they will remain a two car team next season and #46-Michael Annett will return. The team said they are still working on Justin Allgiaer's deal for 2016.(9-5-2015)
UPDATE 3: Amid reports that Clint Bowyer might join its organization next season, HScott Motorsports says it won't be adding a third Sprint Cup car in 2016. The team expanded to a second full-time Chevy this season with Michael Annett joining for Justin Allgaier, who has driven for Harry Scott since 2013. Citing an unnamed source, SiriusXM Satellite Radio host Claire B. Lang reported Friday night that Bowyer would race for HScott Motorsports in '16 and move to Tony Stewart's #14 Chevy in 2017. Bowyer's future is in flux with the impending closure of Michael Waltrip Racing.Asked for comment, HScott Motorsports released this statement:
"Harry continues to work with Justin Allgaier and BRANDT Professional Agriculture on their contracts for next year and beyond. As far as a car count for next year, HScott Motorsports will be a two-car operation. Michael Annett will continue to drive for the team next year."
While it remains possible that Allgaier and Brandt might not return, which would open a potential spot for Bowyer, it seems there also are signs that HScott Motorsports might not have room for a new driver next year.(NBC Sports)(9-6-2015)
MWR begins process of ceasing operations: More than 200 people will lose their jobs in Cornelius as Michael Waltrip Racing Management Co. winds down its operations. According to a letter sent to the N.C. Commerce Department, 217 employees will be laid off in stages between Nov. 1 and April 15. The company said it is liquidating its assets, which is expected to be completed by mid-April. Michael Waltrip Racing is ceasing operations at its facilities at 20310 Chartwell Center Drive and 19340 Liverpool Parkway, both in Cornelius, according to the letter. Companies that employ at least 100 workers are required to file a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) to the state's Commerce Department when they plan to lay off between 50-499 employees, if those workers make up at least one-third of their workforce. Charlotte businessman and race team owner Rob Kauffman said in August he was cutting his investment in Michael Waltrip Racing and closing the company amid poor results, both financially and on the racetrack. The organization hasn't won a race in more than two years. Heather Shaw, the company's director of human resources, could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts Wednesday.(Charlotte Observer)(9-3-2015)
Bowyer to run Buddy Baker scheme at Darlington: #15-Clint Bowyer will run a tribute paint scheme for Buddy Baker in the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington race. The paint scheme is an "old school" style paint scheme and Bowyer wanted to keep it authentic. Watch it get hand painted in just over 60 seconds at Michael Waltrip Racing's Facebook page.(8-25-2015)
NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell addresses MWR situation: The landscape in NASCAR shifted last week when Michael Waltrip Racing announced that it would end full-time competition in the Sprint Cup Series following the 2015 season. MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman, the former investment banker who gave MWR an influx of finanical support in 2007, was at the forefront of the decision. On Monday, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell addressed the moves made by Kauffman and MWR that included Clint Bowyer being freed to pursue other deals for 2016 and Kauffman buying into Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in late July. "I think in Rob's case we're pleased that he believes in the sport and is willing to make a continued investment in NASCAR, which is a great time for us," O'Donnell said during his weekly interview with NASCAR.com. "As well as Clint Bowyer who is certainly a talented driver who will find a home with a top team. You never like to see anything happen with a race team like this in this case, but again we'll see some things we believe through the manufacturer's support where some other teams may become stronger through all this as well. So a lot still to play out. We're working closely with all our race teams right now to do everything we can to put everyone in an even better position as we head into the 2016 season."(NASCAR.com)(8-24-2015)
Bowyer talks to the press, talks about his future: Michael Waltrip Racing driver #15-Clint Bowyer was made available to the media at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was announced earlier this week that MWR would cease full-time operations after the 2015 season and that Bowyer has been released from his contract and is a free agent for 2016. Bowyer's comments:
Bowyer: "First and foremost, it's a tough time for everybody involved and it's unfortunate. The truth is that we're eight months into a three-year commitment to one another. Had a great four years at this company, a great culture, great personnel, great people at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and I really did enjoy the years that I spent there. That being said, Rob (Kauffman) provided us all of that and invested a lot into this sport. That being said, it's a business decision to move forward on his on his end and that's where our futures for he and I unfortunately just don't align anymore. That's where we were, that's the reason the statement is out. I think the timing behind this, the reason I'm in here right now is that it was very important to me knowing this that we got in front of our employees that have worked their ass off for me personally to make these four years good and successful. I think it was important that they as racers continue to race under this Chase format and compete for a championship in 2015. All the while knowing what their future holds and knowing that they have some security and as much time as possible to look and see what their futures hold for themselves as well. That's me included. There's going to be a lot of questions. I'm sure the next question is what does that mean for the future. That means the future for me is uncertain right now. We've got a lot of work to do, but again the time frame with this and the reason that we're here today is that Rob and I both agree that we owed it to these people to tell them as soon as possible that we worked on this as soon as we got back from the weekend until 11:30 or midnight and got to the conclusion to where we could tell these people as soon as possible. I mean that, it's important. There's a lot of lives at stake, a lot of families and I thought we owed it to them. With that, that's where we are. If you guys (media) have some questions, I don't mind clarifying some things if you need it, if I can, but there's a lot of unknowns at this point."
Q) Were you originally thinking you would also go over to Ganassi?
Bowyer: "Again, it all goes back to where we are in our situation. We're eight months into a three-year commitment. Again, Rob (Kauffman) has invested a tremendous amount into MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and into this sport. That being said, he made a business decision to move forward and that direction as we all know from his previous statements is the Ganassi organization. For my career and me and my future, it's just unfortunate and Rob and I, our futures didn't align anymore. It's as simple as that. It was a mutually agreed upon thing and it was something that was not ugly and it was something that we did professionally and we made our decisions and that's why we're where we're at."
Q) Are you worried about the employees keeping the performance where it needs to be the rest of the season?
Bowyer: "It's very important, these people are people. These employees are real people with real lives with real families and a lot at stake. They're racers just like I am. The racer in you doesn't change the reality side of life and reality is that you need to provide for your family. I thought it was extremely important to me to get in front of that and I owed it to these employees to get this done as soon as possible even knowing where we're at on the bubble and everything in the Chase. I think being honest and being straightforward and doing that for these people in the long run will set them up to make the most out of a difficult situation for us all and that's me included. I need to start actively pursuing my career and that's what I'm doing. The first piece of the puzzle is set on the table and now we have to go to work on all of our behalves. As far as our performance just like you said, I thought it was more dangerous in more mind of making an announcement like we did in Pocono and not saying anything for another month and a half, we owe it to those people to be honest with them and it was not a day later than what we made our agreement that they were told."
Q) What is your relationship with 5-hour ENERGY?
Bowyer: "With 5-hour ENERGY, it's as simple as this - I've worked really hard in my career to have great partners. I've been with a lot of great companies and been a spokesperson for them. The relationships - very proud of the relationship and the partnership that I have with 5-hour, I think we can all agree how could there ever be a better fit to fit my lifestyle and the way my character and everything, I'm all about. It's a great fit. That being said, they're no different than I am. We're back to we didn't see this coming, we're both in a situation where we've got to see what the future holds for both of us and move forward from that."
Q) How much do you feel this stems from Richmond in 2013?
Bowyer: "I don't think it does at all and this is why. I think what happened in Richmond, that's two years ago. Since then Rob (Kaufmann) and everybody, the management has restructured, reorganized and we're a two-car team. We're not a three-car team, we're a two-car team, which by the way was fully funded on my car moving forward. It was again a business decision by Rob to do this and I'm proud to work for MWR and work for Rob. I'm happy for that experience, but to answer your question I just don't and that's because we were a two-car organization. We were setup and moving forward to a two-car organization. It wasn't like we were forced in a weird situation and that's my honest, legit answer to that."
Q) Are you looking to enter a long term or short term deal moving forward?
Bowyer: "Yes, keep talking and I'll keep telling you yes, absolutely. Those are all systems go. Again, it's like these people, these employees and what I'm telling you, that had to happen. You have to get that piece of the puzzle and the factual information on the table as soon as possible so we can all start working on our futures and what that holds. It's as simple as that. It all goes back to Pocono. We're all in this business together right? I didn't have a whole lot to tell you in Pocono and I really, it goes back to the statement at hand and the reason that we're here - what I'm going to have in the future and what that future holds for me will be another announcement and I'll tell you as soon as possible. It's as simple as that. I'm confident in the sport, I love this sport and the sport has been good to me and my family - had a lot of great partners and a lot of great organizations that I've worked for and I see no reason why somebody that works hard and wants it like I do in this sport can't have a job for as long as they want."
Q) How do you and the team achieve the goals at hand knowing what's ahead?
Bowyer: "I have a good team, we're racers. These guys are all racers at heart. After our announcement Wednesday, every single one of my guys and employees at MWR got up and obviously know the future, but my guys in particular these road guys that are on the road with me every week, all of them said, 'Listen, we have a job to do, you get your damn head straight and let's go after this championship and end this on a bang.' That's the fire, the desire and the passion that racers have and you can't take that from any of us. Very proud of my team and the people that were organized around me from day one at MWR and it hasn't changed today. We're going to do just that."(Toyota Racing)(8-21-2015)
Kauffman says MWR will cease operations after 2015 season: Rob Kauffman, an amateur racer who is a highly successful businessman, said Friday he had enough of pouring his own money into Michael Waltrip Racing without seeing results and announced that MWR would cease operations after this season. Kauffman, who saved MWR from closing in 2007 by purchasing half the team from Waltrip, announced Wednesday that the team would not field Sprint Cup cars in 2016. "Michael Waltrip Racing wouldn't have existed through today without substantial and continued financial support from me," Kauffman said Friday before Sprint Cup practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. "From a business standpoint, that didn't make sense any longer. You can't have a top-10 budget and top-10 resources and not be in the top 10 for a sustained period of time. It's a performance-related business. It's all about performance. It's a great sport but a very difficult business model. From a business decision, it just made sense to not go forward with that organization, which is not commercially viable." MWR expanded from two cars to three in 2012 when it added Bowyer, but that lasted only two years after Bowyer and MWR were embroiled in a race-manipulation scandal at Richmond in the final regular-season 2013 race. "Certainly that was a pretty heavy body blow to our organization," Kauffman said. "It caused a big restructuring; 2014 was at some level a large reset year for everybody, also [on the] financial [side]. As we got into the late spring in 2015, from a performance standpoint, the company wasn't where it needed to be, and that kind of forced some decisions and thought processes over the summer." Kauffman wouldn't say whether a three-car organization would have produced better results. "My crystal ball, unfortunately, is not clear," Kauffman said. "In a parallel universe, I'm not sure what would have happened."(ESPN)(8-21-2015)
Clint Bowyer Joins Martinsville Speedway's Green Flag Experience: Martinsville Speedway's Green Flag Experience just got even more entertaining with the addition of #15-Clint Bowyer. Bowyer joins Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch as drivers scheduled to take part in emceed question-and-answer sessions the morning of the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on Nov. 1. "Fans with a Green Flag Experience ticket are in for a real treat," Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. "Clint is one of the most personable, engaging and fun drivers I have ever been around." In 19 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville, Bowyer has posted 12 top-10 finishes, with a career best of second in 2013. Additional NASCAR personalities taking part in the Green Flag Experience will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets to the Green Flag Experience, as well as the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on Nov. 1, the Kroger 200 on Oct. 31 and Virginia Lottery Pole Day on Oct. 30 can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Tickets may also be purchased online at martinsvillespeedway.com.(Martinsville Speedway)(8-21-2015)
Statement from Toyota on Michael Waltrip Racing Announcement: "We want to thank everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing for a great partnership and for being part of our 'freshman class'- one of the race teams that helped us enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series nine years ago. Clint Bowyer has been a valuable member of the Toyota Racing family for the past four years, and we will continue to support him, and the rest of the MWR team through the end of the 2015 season. We wish everyone associated with the team the best of luck in the future and we look forward to closing out the season focused on competing for a championship." ~Ed Laukes, Vice President marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A.(Toyota Racing)(8-20-2015)
5-Hour Energy comments on future plans: In a statement released Wednesday, 5-Hour Energy director of communications Melissa Skabich said: "5 Hour ENERGY has enjoyed a great relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing and Clint Bowyer since joining forces in 2012. MWR and Clint have delivered above and beyond with our partnership and we thank them for their dedication. Clint is a great ambassador for our products, customers and retailers. The MWR team and Clint will continue to remain focused on getting 5-hour ENERGY in the Chase. We will make no further comment until we are ready to announce our future plans."(USA Today)(8-20-2015)
Michael Waltrip Addresses MWR News: On FOX Sports 1's NASCAR Ccamping World Truck Series practice telecast Wednesday morning, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) co-owner Michael Waltrip addressed the morning's news that MWR and #15-Clint Bowyer have mutually agreed to separate at the conclusion of the 2015 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES season and that the organization no longer will field full-time cars in 2016. Waltrip, on the air Wednesday in his role as a FOX NASCAR analyst, shared his thoughts with play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander and analyst Phil Parsons. Below is a transcript from the exchange:
Alexander: What more can you tell us as this news is just breaking this morning?
Waltrip: "Well, it's a sad day for MWR obviously. I love the culture we've built there. Our sponsors - they're not sponsors; they're partners. And our employees are our teammates. We just have the perfect workplace, and unfortunately in 2016, we're not going to be racing there. My hope is somebody wants to have a really nice shop full of really cool people that work together well and want to have a race team and we can provide that for them. Rob is going to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing going forward. Rob and I are best buddies. He's done an amazing job of stabilizing MWR in the beginning and then we raced for a championship -- finished second in 2012. So, my heart goes out to all the employees, all the people that worked at MWR. Hopefully, somebody wants to have a team and they can have it right there at our place."
Parsons: A lot of people may say MWR started in 2007. MWR really started behind your house in the garage back in the '90s. How hard is that for you after being in this as an owner for around 20 years now?
Waltrip: "Our first race was here (Bristol Motor Speedway) in 1994 with Jeff Green. We towed in here with Rodney Silver, a flatbed trailer, unloaded our car and ran third that day. And won Nationwide/XFINITY races behind our house and competed in the Cup Series. We made the Daytona 500 with Kenny Wallace in a car we built in Sherrills Ford (N.C.) behind my house. That grew to Michael Waltrip Racing and we raced for a championship, like I said, Chase berths, race wins. I'm thankful. I'm happy. It's a great run that we've had. We'll just see what's next."(FOX)(8-19-2015)
MWR/Bowyer to split at end of 2015; no full-time cars in 2016: Michael Waltrip Racing and Clint Bowyer have mutually agreed to separate at the conclusion of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Bowyer, currently 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase standings, will be free to pursue other career options in 2016 and beyond. MWR will continue to field the #15 and #55 Toyotas for the remainder of the 2015 season. Team co-owner Rob Kauffman said MWR will not field a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup entry in 2016.
ROB KAUFFMAN: "MWR will race hard and compete for the remainder of the 2015 season. This decision was made after weighing several different options and scenarios. I felt it was important to make an announcement as soon as we had clarity, so that is what we are doing today. I want to thank all of our staff, partners, sponsors and fans for all their effort and support over the years. Clint Bowyer has done a lot for MWR since joining us in 2012 and we appreciate the energy and effort he has given the organization. After many discussions, Clint and I agreed we would go our separate ways at the end of the season and I wish him well in whatever direction he pursues."
CLINT BOWYER: "I want to thank Michael, Rob and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing that made these past four years special. After extensive discussions with Rob and MWR, we came to the point that we mutually agreed our paths in the future just didn't align but I think we all agreed on the next steps in a very professional manner. I am looking forward to what future opportunities may come but for now we have a championship to pursue in 2015 and we owe it to every one of our sponsors, partners, employees and fans to deliver on and off the track."
MICHAEL WALTRIP: "Rob joined MWR in 2007 and has helped give us the resources to build a competitive race team, and in 2012, Clint Bowyer took us to the doorstep of a championship. From where MWR started behind my house in Sherrill's Ford to winning Sprint Cup races, poles and earning Chase berths, I am proud of what we accomplished. My family has been a part of NASCAR for almost five decades and I plan on being a part of it for years to come. I would not have had the opportunity to start this journey without so many great partners, sponsors and employees and I want to thank each of them for making Michael Waltrip Racing a reality."(MWR)(8-19-2015)
Sabates says no deal with Kaufman yet: When Rob Kauffman announced at the beginning of August he had purchased an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, many in the NASCAR community wondered what it meant for the future. Kauffman is also a co-owner in Michael Waltrip Racing, but it was made clear the two organizations would operate separately throughout the rest of the year. A source close to the situation indicated this weekend at Michigan International Speedway the deal between Kauffman and the Ganassi organization is far from done, something Felix Sabates confirmed to FOXSports.com Sunday morning. "Basically we're talking. We don't have anything concrete," said Sabates. "We'd like to do something with (Kauffman), because I think he can add a lot to our team. We don't have anything signed." With MWR running Toyotas and Ganassi running Chevrolets, Kauffman has a unique predicament on his hands. The source indicated MWR has already been cut off by Toyota in all areas, with the exception of providing motors. Sabates could not speak to how Kauffman will handle the manufacturer situation, but said believes Kauffman eventually will have a decision to make. "I don't think it will work for him to have both (Chevrolet and Toyota teams), but you never know," he said. Sabates said expanding to a three-car organization has no bearing on the on-going discussions with Kauffman, but the overall goal is to expand the team. "Our goal is to expand either next year or the following year," he said.(Fox Sports)(8-17-2015)
Kaufmann talks to the press: A brief statement by Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman raised more questions than it provided answers about the future of MWR. Earlier in the week, a statement released by MWR indicated Kaufmann was buying into Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, fueling speculation that driver Clint Bowyer and sponsor 5-Hour Energy would move to Ganassi. Standing behind the hauler of the #55 MWR Toyota driven by David Ragan, however, Kauffman gave the impression that co-owner Michael Waltrip was somehow involved in the process and that there might be synergy between the two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organizations. "First and foremost, the thing that's important to realize is that Michael Waltrip and I co-own Michael Waltrip Racing together," Kauffman said. "We're business partners and great personal friends, so any idea that I'm leaving or taking anything is actually misplaced. What we're actually doing is integrating the businesses, trying to get the most competitive product on track, do the best for all of our partners-that's really our focus. It's a competitive business, as everybody knows. It's competitive on track as well as off track." Kauffman indicated there are many details still to be determined. "In terms of our plans, whether we have three cars, four cars, two roofs, one roof-that's all yet to be determined, and how we do in the 2015 season will help determine whether that happens," Kauffman said. "If we do a great job, that'll be one outcome. If we do a less great job, probably another." Kauffman stepped into the hauler without taking questions from the throng of reporters clustered outside.(NASCAR Wire Service)(8-2-2015)
Clint Bowyer Statement: #15-Clint Bowyer made a statement Friday at Pocono and answered a question about MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman purchasing part of Chip Ganassi Racing:
Bowyer Statement: "This isn't what any of you guys want. You need to bear with us. There's obviously some change on the horizon. I got the same release you guys did. We've got a new sponsor on the car this weekend. It's a big deal for us. We've been working on this a long time. Got a lot of momentum going into this - we're 20 points out of the Chase and we've got to finish this year strong. Like I said, there's a lot of work to be done in the future and we're all working on it and when I have something to tell you guys you all know me and I'll tell you."
Q) Did you find about the news from a statement?
Bowyer: "No, I said you read the statement that I did. There's obviously change on the horizon and we're going to have to work on the future and see what that looks like, but for right now we're focused on 2015, getting Maxwell House in victory lane this weekend and getting in this Chase. We're close and this can happen and these guys got to stay focused, I've got to stay focused and if we do our jobs we can get in this Chase and compete for a championship."(Toyota Racing)(7-31-2015)
Statements from MWR, CGR, Sabates, Waltrip & Toyota:
Statement from Michael Waltrip Racing: "Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The companies will continue to operate separately and compete against each other for the remainder of the 2015 season. They are also currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond. More details will follow in due course".(MWR)
Statement from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates "We confirm that Rob Kauffman has agreed to acquire an interest in the team. Further discussions regarding the 2016 season and beyond are underway."(CGR)
Felix Sabates Statement to SXM NASCAR "I'm not going anywhere. This is about making our team stronger, a three car team is stronger than a two car. But the rumors that Rob is buying me out are not true, my last race will be five years from September 9th. I will be 75 years old then and will be done."(SXM NASCAR)
Statement from Michael Waltrip: "My focus is on 2015 and fulfilling the commitment we have made to our partners and Toyota which is placing our teams in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. There are a lot of details yet to be sorted regarding 2016. I will work closely with Rob Kauffman and our sponsors to formulate the best way forward."(MWR)(7-30-2015)
Statement from Toyota on Rob Kauffman Announcement: "We've spoken with Rob Kauffman and understand he has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Rob has not disclosed the plans for Michael Waltrip Racing past the 2015 racing season. Toyota and TRD remain focused on winning races and championships with our team partners this year." ~Ed Laukes, Vice President marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS)(7-31-2015)
MWR to Chevy? Ragan to return? What about Vickers? UPDATE 3 denied?: What in the world will Toyota Racing's Sprint Cup program look like next year? One persistent, hot rumor features a manufacturer swap of sorts, with Rob Kauffman, currently the principal owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, taking his racing interests and partnering with a Chevy team. Furniture Row Racing is currently eyeing the Toyota camp with an ardor that has progressed well beyond flirtation.
Two potential partnerships mentioned for Kauffman are Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Ganassi absorbed Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Martin Truex Jr. into the fold back in 2009. RCR expressed interest in acquiring a minority partner after Chartwell Investments expressed a desire to sell its stake in the company in 2012. Kauffman did not offer a definitive reply when asked about a possible realignment.
Furniture Row's Barney Visser has been more forthcoming. The Denver, Colorado-based team owner hopes to make a manufacturer decision in the next few weeks to accommodate a possible restructuring with Toyota for next year.
Although FRR currently receives no financial support from Chevrolet, the team's move could open the door for Kauffman to enter into a technical alliance with RCR, with whom the #78 currently shares data. However, sources told Motorsport.com that Ganassi appears to be the frontrunner for Kauffman's capital at this time.
Michael Waltrip Racing's driver lineup likely hinges on Aaron's continued support with the #55 team. Both Kauffman and Clint Bowyer, who is in the first year of a three-year contract, are high on driver David Ragan. Aaron's has been a sponsor of Michael Waltrip's since 2000 but has yet to renew with MWR. A decision on the company's involvement could come in the next six to eight weeks.
Last week Brian Vickers expressed interest in returning to racing. Given the unpredictability of Vickers situation, Kauffman isn't sure whether they could accommodate the driver. "...The most important thing right now is his health. I haven't really had a conversation with him regarding coming back to racing and the like. It's a big medical issue that I haven't been involved with up until now.," Kauffman said. "He loves racing, so I'm sure he does (want to return), but I think it would be a challenge to try and figure something out--but I would never say never."(Motorsport)(7-23-2015)
UPDATE: David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Tuesday that the manufacturer has its sights set on more teams making the 2015 Chase while also looking ahead to its 2016 lineup. Michael Waltrip Racing with Clint Bowyer's #15 team and David Ragan's #55 are the manufacturer's two highest-ranked drivers without wins, sitting 15th and 24th respectively in the standings. Based on points, the #15 driver is currently in the provisional Chase Grid, but if Busch makes the top 30, Bowyer will be bounced without a win. As the manufacturer attempts to add those MWR teams to this year's Chase, Wilson wasn't certain about the organization's future with Toyota.
"We are talking to a number of organizations about the future, and certainly in the near-term, we're not sure what Michael Waltrip Racing is going to do," Wilson said. "They've yet to announce their plans. Certainly we have had a rich history in the sport together. We got our butts kicked together in 2007, our first year, and you forge very close and personal relationships when you have those trials together. Whatever they decide to do, we certainly wish nothing but the best for them."
Wilson has acknowledged discussions with #78 Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser about the Denver-based team's potential manufacturer move from Chevrolet to Toyota. But the TRD president suggested that Furniture Row, like Toyota itself, was focused on its 2015 Chase efforts. "Regarding Furniture Row Racing, again they haven't announced their plans for next year certainly," Wilson said. "I imagine they're focusing on getting Martin Truex well-positioned in the Chase as well and competitive."(NASCAR.com)(7-29-2015)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip Racing principal Owner Rob Kauffman is close to purchasing Felix Sabates' stake in Chip Ganassi Racing, according to multiple industry sources, which would cause Kauffman to drop his affiliation with MWR if the sale is completed. Kauffman, who has been with MWR for eight years, would take on Sabates' minority stake in the team, while CGR principal Owner Chip Ganassi would continue to retain majority control, according to sources. It is unclear if Sabates will hold onto a small stake to retain his affiliation with the team or if he will be dropping the affiliation entirely.
Sources said that Kauffman would take one of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries at MWR - the #15 Toyota driven by Clint Bowyer - with him to CGR. Because MWR's sponsors, including 5-Hour Energy, Aaron's, Peak, AAA and Maxwell House, have yet to determine their next move, it is unclear whether the operation, which also has the #55 currently driven by David Ragan, would form an alliance or merge with another team, or pursue some other option. CGR execs had no comment; MWR did not respond to e-mails by presstime.
Ganassi Racing currently has two Sprint Cup entries - the #1 McDonald's / Cessna Chevy driven by Jamie McMurray and the #42 Target Chevy driven by Kyle Larson. The combined three-car entity will remain with Chevrolet, which is the current supplier to CGR in the Sprint Cup Series. Kauffman also is chair of the Race Team Alliance, which was founded last year. Whether his role with the RTA will be affected is unclear.(Sports Business Daily)(7-29-2015)
UPDATE 3: Felix Sabates, part owner in Chip Ganassi Racing's NASCAR operation, disputed a published report Wednesday by Sports Business Daily claiming Rob Kauffman was close to purchasing Sabates' stake in the team. "I am not going anywhere," Sabates said. "I am having too much fun. Plus, I have unfinished business. I need to sit at the head table in Las Vegas."(Motorsport)(7-30-2015)
Five teams given warnings after New Hampshire: NASCAR issued written warnings to five teams this week for multiple inspection failures last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The cars of #27-Paul Menard, #15-Clint Bowyer, #11-Denny Hamlin and #32-Eddie MacDonald were warned for failing prequalifying inspection twice. #21-Ryan Blaney's team was warned for failing prerace inspection twice. The Sprint Cup Rule Book states in section 184.108.40.206.c that if the same team receives two warnings during two consecutive events - whether a points event or not - then the team faces a P1 penalty that could include one or more of the following: Deduction of practice time, deduction of qualifying time, last choice in selecting pits, delay in order of inspection and/or other penalties.(NBC Sports)(7-22-2015)
Two new sponsors for Bowyer at Kentucky: Casey's General Store and Hughes General Contractors will co-sponsor Michael Waltrip Racing's #15 Toyota driven by Clint Bowyer in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. The race marks the first time the companies have served as primary sponsors on a Sprint Cup car. Casey's is a Fortune 500 company with nearly 1,900 stores populating small towns throughout the Midwest including Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. The Ankeny, Iowa, based chain offers customers gasoline, convenience store items and an assortment of food. It served more than 18 million made-from-scratch pizzas last year making it one of the top-10 pizza chains in the country. Hughes General Contractors, based in North Salt Lake, Utah, is a third-generation, family-owned commercial contractor that specializes in construction management projects. Hughes is an established forerunner in the art of tilt-up construction and concrete work, a nationally recognized expert in historical restoration, and an educational construction specialist.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(7-10-2015)
Bowyer Raises More Than $350,000 For His Hometown: Before heading to Sonoma, #15-Clint Bowyer hosted the eighth annual Clint Bowyer's Support Emporia Charity Event on Saturday, June. 20 in his home town of Emporia, Kan. More than 450 people attended the golf tournament and auction where a record $360,000 was raised. It was the sixth consecutive year the event has raised more than $350,000. The dinner and auction included several one-of-a-kind items from several NASCAR stars, the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs. The highlight of the auction was a VIP experience with Cessna to the Daytona 500. The evening concluded with a concert by country music entertainer Chris Weaver. Money raised from the event goes to the "79 Fund," a fund established by Bowyer for the Emporia Community Foundation. To date, Bowyer has helped raise more than $2.5 million for the fund. In addition to constructing the Clint Bowyer Community Building, a multi-purpose community center, gifts have been awarded to various youth-related initiatives including outfitting children with school backpacks as well as shoes for the needy at Christmas.(MWR)(6-24-2015)
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)
Jack Link's & Big Machine Records sponsoring Bowyer at Pocono: Jack Link's and Big Machine Records will co-sponsor Michael Waltrip Racing's #15 Toyota driven by Clint Bowyer in the June 7 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. The #15's black-and-white paint scheme makes its first appearance at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track for practice and qualifying on June 5 and 6. "At Jack Link's, our mission is to 'Feed Your Wild Side.' We know that Clint, his crew and NASCAR fans are already experts in that department and we're thrilled to be on the #15 for the Pocono race!" said Jeff LeFever, vice president of marketing for Jack Link's. Big Machine is the label home to some of the biggest stars in music including Superstars Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and more. With a name that is rooted in racing, President & CEO Scott Borchetta is a lifelong racing fan and former championship driver.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(5-30-2015)
Special scheme at Charlotte for Bowyer: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues its "home" visit in Charlotte this weekend. The sport's longest race of the year is a Memorial Day tradition at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Another tradition is honoring those who serve and have served. Clint Bowyer's #15 Cherry 5-hour ENERGY Toyota will be outfitted in red, white and blue colors with a special decal for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation again this weekend. A portion of sales from a special cherry 5-hour ENERGY bottle now through July 31 goes to the organization that supports the military's special operations forces and their families through college scholarships, family services, and financial stipends. Bowyer's windshield also honors the service of his paternal grandfather, Dale E. Bowyer. The special windshield decal is a part of NASCAR's 600 Miles of Remembrance, honoring military service members and their families. Dale E. Bowyer is Clint Bowyer's paternal grandfather and was a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army. He won the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism while fighting the armed enemy in Germany during World War II.(MWR), see images of the scheme on the #15 Team Schemes page.(5-21-2015)
Bowyer wins Sprint Showdown: #15-Clint Bowyer won the Sprint Showdown Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to transfer to the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night. It is Bowyers 2nd win in the Showdown and 2nd consecutive win. #27-Menard finished 2nd followed by #78-Truex Jr, #9-Hornish Jr. and #25-Chase Elliott. #16-Greg Biffle won segment 1 of the Sprint Showdown Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to transfer to the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night. #15-Bowyer finished 2nd followed by #27-Menard, #3-Dillon and #55-Ragan.
#10-Danica Patrick won the Sprint Fan Vote to transfer into the Sprint All-Star Race.
See the results from both segments on Jayski.com's 2015 All-Star Race Page.(5-15-2015)
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)
Maxwell House sponsoring MWR: Michael Waltrip Racing and Maxwell House announced a partnership which names the iconic coffee maker as primary racing sponsor for five Sprint Cup races during the 2015 season and the prestigious DAYTONA 500 in February 2016. The 10-month agreement officially kicks off on Aug. 2 with the Pennsylvania 400 at the Pocono Raceway. Clint Bowyer will drive the #15 Maxwell House Toyota at Watkins Glen International, Pocono Raceway, Martinsville Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in the second half of the 2015 season. Waltrip, a two-time DAYTONA 500 champion, will carry the Maxwell House colors at Talladega Superspeedway in October and in the 2016 DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Maxwell House is no stranger to the racing circuit, having partnered with some of the most well-known drivers in professional racing between 1989 and 2003, including Michael Waltrip. Other elements of the sponsorship will include special appearances by the Michael Waltrip Racing team, exclusive behind-the-scenes access for select fans, special in-season and grocery store promotions and sampling at select races. Maxwell House is also an associate sponsor of the remaining Sprint Cup races.(MWR), see an image of the car on the #15 team paint schemes page.(4-10-2015)
MWR responds to tire changer lawsuit: A former Michael Waltrip Racing tire changer claims he was fired from his $160,000-a-year job in August after he demanded to have surgery for an injury suffered on pit road, while the team states he was released because he stole a specially made gun on the day he asked for permission to talk to other race teams. Brandon Hopkins sued the team in January in North Carolina Superior Court in Charlotte, and Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) filed its response last week while also having the case moved to North Carolina Business Court. Hopkins claims he was fired the day before shoulder surgery in August for an injury he said he suffered after being hit while pitting Clint Bowyer's car in 2013. He alleges he was told he was fired for what he characterized as unsubstantiated claims for stealing a pit-road gun, and he claims MWR retaliated against him by telling other teams that was the reason he was fired. He seeks unspecified damages. Hopkins, who began changing tires in 2005 and joined MWR in 2012, was making $160,000 per year, according to his contract that is part of the court file. His salary comprised of a base salary as an MWR employee ($50,000), an over-the-wall crew member salary ($97,000) and a fee to participate in the team's training program ($13,000). The two-year deal, signed in September 2013, was for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
In its response to the lawsuit, MWR detailed the pit-gun incident. The pit gun, called a "clutch gun" that MWR says teams are spending hundreds of thousands and even "millions" of dollars to develop, requires MWR to have a dedicated engineer who works specifically to tailor the guns for each crew member. MWR alleges Hopkins, angry after a bad performance at Indianapolis in 2014, demanded to have the surgery for a torn labrum a week later but wanted to work the Pocono race. Hopkins didn't use his assigned gun at Pocono but used a backup gun for one of the other pit-crew members. Pit-crew members are supposed to only use the guns assigned to them, and Hopkins wasn't authorized to use that gun, MWR states in court documents. The team says in its response that it has footage of Hopkins taking that gun and putting it in his car, along with four or five sockets for that gun, the Monday after Pocono -- about 35 minutes after he asked for permission to waive the non-compete clause in his contract so he could seek employment elsewhere. Later in the day, MWR alleges Hopkins printed out reports that showed the effectiveness of the guns as well as documents on pit-crew members and prospects. MWR also alleges that Hopkins' backup gun went missing earlier in the season and was never located.
The sides also dispute whose decision it was to delay surgery after the injury was diagnosed in March 2014; Hopkins said he repeatedly asked to have the surgery but was encouraged to delay surgery until the team was eliminated from championship contention.(ESPN.com)(3-18-2015)
Bowyer latest Cup driver to be guest analyst of FOX: Clint Bowyer is the latest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver confirmed as a race analyst for FOX and FOX Sports 1's coverage of the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Bowyer is scheduled to offer analysis alongside Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip for the NASCAR XFINITY Series races from Auto Club Speedway in March and Charlotte in May. Bowyer is the fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver announced as part of a rotation in the FOX and FOX Sports 1 booth for FOX Sports' coverage of the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.(FOX)(2-25-2015)
Bowyer rips new Daytona 500 qualifying format, other driver comments: #15-Bowyer and #44- Sorenson tangled in the first round (group A) of qualifying for the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, triggering a wreck that destroyed both cars as well as damaging #32-Labonte, #11-Hamlin and #23-Yeley. Bowyer made some comments about the new qualifying format:
Q) What happened in the accident?
Bowyer: "First of all I wasn't behind the 44 (Reed Sorenson), he came flying around and came up on the apron, jumped up in front of me and then runs over the 51 (Justin Allgaier), stacks us all up and I run into him. It's idiotic to be out here doing this anyway. It makes no sense in being able to put on some cute show for whatever the hell this is, then you have a guy out there in desperation doing this crap like this. There's no reason to be out here. These guys have spent six months working on these cars, busting their asses on these cars to go out there and have some guy out of desperation do that crap, but it ain't his fault. It's not, it's NASCAR's fault for putting us out here in the middle of this crap for nothing. We used to come down here and worry about who was going to sit on the front row and the pole for the biggest race of the year and now all we do is come down here and worry about how a start-and-park like this out of desperation is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500. We've been in meetings for 45 minutes just trying to figure out what in the hell everybody is going to do just so we can make the race. There's no sense in doing this."
Q) Is there blame to be placed for the accident?
Bowyer: "It wasn't his fault, he's desperate and trying to get into the biggest race of the year. We need to be focused on qualifying and who is going to sit on the pole for the biggest race of the year and the front row just like we always have. There's no reason to be putting a show on and trying to make something out of something that doesn't need to be. We put a hell of a show on for the Daytona 500 and unfortunately these guys have worked the last six months for nothing."(Toyota Racing)
Reed Sorenson's comments on the accident:
Q) DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP CAR?
Sorenson: "Not right now, we don't. I don't know if we'll try to get a car up here or what they'll try to do. But as of right now, we don't have a back-up car."
Q) CLINT BOWYER WAS REALLY UPSET. WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU AFTERWARDS?
Sorenson: "Yeah, he came up to the window. He was pretty upset. He has a right to be upset. I was trying to block. I think what he saw is what I was trying to do. I was just trying to stay in front of him to get that good lap. I didn't think that he was all the way up to me yet. And, listening to my spotter, I was going high, and then he says going low and I went low as soon as he said that. The next thing I know, I'm spinning. I guess I didn't think he was quite that far up. It's just a product of trying to run that one good lap and I was trying to stay in front of that line. That was our only shot to run a good lap was to stay in front of him. You see blocking here all the time. It's part of this racing and now it's part of the qualifying here."Sorenson: Q) CLINT BOWYER SAID IT WAS NASCAR'S FAULT AND THAT THEY SET IT UP THIS WAY. DO YOU THINK QUALIFYING SHOULD BE DONE ANOTHER WAY?
Sorenson: "Well, like I said, I was trying to do everything I could to stay in front of Clint (Bowyer). Normally, in a race, I probably wouldn't be that aggressive unless it was the last lap and you're trying to win the race; just like (Matt) Kenseth did last night (in the Sprint Unlimited). He blocked (Martin) Truex to win. And for us, trying to get in the race, it's that big of a deal where I was treating it like it was the last lap every race. And that's how aggressive you have to be; especially when you're not guaranteed (a spot) in the race and you're on the outside looking in. That's the way this qualifying is. It forces you into that."
Q) IS IT TOUGH NOW WITH THE RISK VERSUS REWARD THAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE A BACK-UP CAR?
Sorenson: "Yeah, and if that was the case, we could have decided on pit road and not gone out there at all if we weren't going to take a chance. We took that risk. And now, looking back on it, I don't know the answer to that question because maybe the same thing would have happened in the Duels. So, this was one of our two chances to get in the race and we were trying to do everything we could to do that."(Team Chevy)
Team Xtreme Racing tweeted that: "We are in the process of getting a back up car to Daytona. Thanks for all the well wishes and Support."
#78-Martin Truex Jr. thoughts of qualifying: "My thoughts are they need to do something different. I don't know, it's just doesn't seem like it's a good show. It's not fun. It's kind of chaos. I don't know, seeing cars get tore up and other stuff. I'm not a fan of it, but hey it is what it is. It's fun at every other race track it's just plate tracks we need to figure something else out. With that being said 12th is okay. We took a little gamble there at the last round and we missed our time calculation by about four seconds on when we had to leave pit road to be the only one to get a time. Everybody ended up getting there on time. We screwed that up a little bit, but all in all everything is good."(Team Chevy)
#31-Ryan Newman: "I wouldn't say it's frustrating. The frustrating part is dealing with this whole system which makes no sense whatsoever. It's hard to stand behind NASCAR when everybody I talk to up and down pit road doesn't understand why we're doing this. Maybe I need to be sat down and educated a little bit. Not what we wanted for our Caterpillar Chevrolet, no doubt, but we also avoided the next two crashes that come in qualifying, which should never occur."(Team Chevy) (2-15-2015)
Bowyer's sponsors so far for 2015: 5-hour ENERGY enters its fourth consecutive year as primary sponsor of Bowyer's #15 Toyota Camry. Bowyer carries the 5-hour ENERGY logos for 24 races in 2015. PEAK Anti-freeze & Coolant provides primary support at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, Talladega Superspeedway on May 3 & Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 20. AAA Insurance serves as primary at Richmond International Raceway on April 25 and at Dover International Speedway on May 31.(MWR), that leaves six races without a primary sponsor named yet. See images of these schemes on the #15 Team Schemes page.(2-11-2015)
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)
Tire changer sues MWR: A former top tire changer for Michael Waltrip Racing sued the Cornelius-based motorsports team on Tuesday, claiming he was fired a day before undergoing surgery for a shoulder injury suffered when he was struck by a car during a NASCAR race. Brandon Hopkins helped Michael Waltrip Racing to its first Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year Award in 2012. He contends team officials "blacklisted" him after his surgery by falsely accusing him of stealing a pit gun used to remove lug nuts. As a result, he lost an unpaid internship with another NASCAR Sprint Cup team and paid work with a NASCAR Truck Series team, Hopkins says in the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Charlotte employment law lawyer Joshua Van Kampen in Mecklenburg County Superior Court. Hopkins is suing for damages, citing breach of contract, defamation, intentional interference with a contract and violation of the N.C. blacklisting statute, according to his lawsuit. Hopkins says he was injured while changing tires for the #15 car driven by Clint Bowyer at Chicagoland Speedway in September 2013. In March 2014, a doctor with OrthoCarolina told Hopkins he needed surgery. Hopkins says he told a team official he would delay the surgery until he could no longer perform. After the April 2014 race at Texas Motor Speedway, he says he started losing feeling in his arm and requested surgery as soon as possible. A team official asked him to wait until after the season, or until the team knew whether it would make The Chase, according to the lawsuit. Hopkins says he "sucked it up" and worked through the summer. He says the Aug. 7, 2014, surgery was a success and he "diligently" attended physical therapy. In late October, a doctor cleared him to return to work, the lawsuit says. But Michael Waltrip Racing officials told the teams that later retained Hopkins that he'd stolen a pit gun, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit calls those claims "demonstrably false," noting that Hopkins was the team member entrusted to transport the guns to each race. Just before his surgery, the lawsuit says, he mistakenly brought a pit gun home, thinking it was his personal pit gun. He didn't want to leave it at the race shop because he knew the surgery would keep him out for a while.(Charlotte Observer)(1-14-2015)
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)
Lawsuit against Bowyer dismissed: South Dakota courts have no jurisdiction over a lawsuit between Kustom Cycles and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, according to the South Dakota Supreme Court's reversal of a circuit court ruling. The underlying lawsuit involves a motorcycle Kustom Cycles built for Bowyer who, in addition to racing in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, is also a motorcycle enthusiast. According to the Supreme Court brief, Bowyer first met Brian Klock, owner of South Dakota-based Kustom Cycles - which does business as Klock Werks - at a NASCAR race in Florida in 2008, then again in Arizona shortly thereafter. Bowyer hired Klock to design a custom motorcycle that would match his 1949 Mercury. As payment, Bowyer let Klock film the motorcycle driving on the NASCAR track and gave Klock and his friends special access to a Daytona race. Bowyer also attended a four-hour photo shoot and allowed Klock to use his name and likeness for promotional purposes, the opinion said. Eight months after Bowyer received his motorcycle, he received a bill for over $30,000. Bowyer refused to pay, claiming he had already provided "compensation in the form of the promotions, endorsements, and special access to NASCAR events," the opinion stated. Bowyer moved to dismiss the ensuing lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, which the circuit court denied. On appeal, Bowyer argued that he did not have sufficient contact with South Dakota for its courts to have personal jurisdiction over him. South Dakota's highest court agreed on Wednesday, noting that Bowyer had not engaged in "significant activities" in the state - the contract was negotiated in Florida and Arizona, the motorcycle was purchased in Minnesota and delivered to Bowyer in South Carolina, the justices said.(Courthouse News Service)(12-13-2014)
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)
2015 team sponsorships coming together: Some top NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have sold their primary sponsorships for all of next season, but space remains on the cars of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #5-Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and #15-Clint Bowyer four months before the 2015 season begins. Among the teams that have sold all their primary sponsorship for next year are #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #22-Joey Logano, #4-Kevin Harvick, #20-Matt Kenseth, #18-Kyle Busch and #11-Denny Hamlin. "It's certainly not easy finding a sponsor, but there was an abundant amount of interest in our sport and in our team," said Dave Alpern, chief marketing officer at Joe Gibbs Racing, which expands to four cars next season. Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, says that the three-car organization has fewer primary sponsorship openings then it did at this time a year ago. Ben Schlosser, chief marketing officer at Richard Childress Racing, says that his three-car organization also is ahead in selling sponsorships, noting some companies were willing to start negotiations earlier. "I think the climate is getting better," Newmark said. "It's not where we need to be, but I think the whole sport is doing a better job of marketing." Newmark credits more collaboration with NASCAR compared to when he arrived at Roush four years ago. Newmark also said that the team has made many changes to better serve sponsors. See more team-by team info at Motor Racing Network and check out the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team / Driver Chart.(10-16-2014)
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)
Bowyer trying to move lawsuit over motorcycle: The South Dakota Supreme Court met for its second day of oral arguments, Tuesday, in Sioux Falls. One case faces NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer against Klock Werks Kustom Cycles in Mitchell and the allegations the driver failed to pay more than $30,000 for the work on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Attorney Alex Hagen representing NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer asked the Supreme Court, Tuesday, to move the lawsuit out of South Dakota. "Clint Bowyer never step foot in South Dakota related to this agreement. This agreement arose out of Phoenix, Arizona and involved many other states, beyond the border of our state," attorney Alex Hagen said. But the owners of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles want the case to stay here. Store owners sued the NASCAR driver back in 2009 after he allegedly failed to pay up for $30,000 of work done to his motorcycle. Bowyer's attorney says this was an oral agreement made in Phoenix. "Out of that original conversation arose a trade-out whereby Mr. Bowyer would provide a motorcycle to Mr Klock. In exchange, Mr Bowyer would provide him rare access to NASCAR events that took place outside of South Dakota," Hagen said. According to the affidavit, the motorcycle was purchased in Mankato, Minnesota and delivered to Bowyer in North Carolina. If the case were taken out of Davison County, South Dakota, Clint Bowyer's attorney suggests it resume in North Carolina. The Justices of the South Dakota Supreme Court are expected to make their decision on this case in the coming months.(KSFY)(10-9-2014)
Congrats - Clint Bowyer: #15-Clint Bowyer tweeted this morning (with an image): "Woohooooooo!!! Finally!!!! Baby boy and momma doing great."(10-1-2014)
UPDATE: Well she wouldn't go for Cletus Bocephus, so we met in the middle. Meet Cash Aaron! (Clint Bowyer Twitter)(10-2-2014)
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)
Sprint Cup teams form Race Team Alliance UPDATE: 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)
MWR announces extensions with Bowyer, Pattie and 5-Hour Energy & a baby: Michael Waltrip Racing announced today it has signed multiyear contract extensions with sponsor 5-hour ENERGY, driver Clint Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie to race its #15 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series starting in 2015. The trio joined MWR in 2012 and has scored three wins and earned two Chase berths including a runner-up finish in 2012. "This is big news for all of us," said Bowyer, an eight-time winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition. "It creates great stability and excitement about what the next few years can bring. MWR is my racing home and continuing this relationship with 5-hour ENERGY was a high priority. It's time to put the paperwork in a drawer and focus on winning."
"Since the first day 5-hour ENERGY, Clint and Brian showed up at MWR, we have been a contender for wins and championships. I am so thankful that we get to continue and add to what we have built," said co-owner Michael Waltrip. "I am most happy for the employees of MWR who are the foundation of everything we do."
The familiar red, black and yellow brand colors of 5-hour ENERGY will adorn the #15 in 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup events each year starting in 2015. Additional primary partners on the #15 include PEAK and AAA Mid-Atlantic. "We have clearly aligned ourselves with one of the most competitive and energetic drivers in racing and we felt it was really important for us to continue the equity we have built over the past three years," said Scott Henderson, president of 5-hour ENERGY. "We love Clint, the people at MWR and the sport of NASCAR. The extension decision was also based on our racing program's success with our sales team and all of our participating retailers." Bowyer celebrates his 300th start Sunday at Kansas Speedway.(MWR). Bowyer also announced on his Twitter that he and wife Lorra are expecting a baby.(5-5-2014)
Congrats - Clint Boyer: #15-Clint Bowyer is now a married man. Bowyer and his fiancee Lorra tied the knot in the Bahamas over the weekend.(FoxSports)(4-21-2014)
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)
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)
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)
Michael Waltrip Racing invests in auto research center: The opportunity to be part of the racetrack and automotive-research center being built on the site of Cooper Stadium [in Columbus, OH] was just too tempting for NASCAR team owner and driver Michael Waltrip to pass up. Waltrip announced that he and his racing team will be investors in the Sports Pavilion & Automotive Research Complex, or SPARC, being developed on the stadium site. "He had me from racetrack," the two-time Daytona 500 winner said of his initial discussions with Bill Schottenstein, principal of Arshot Investment Corp., developer of the complex. "Having my hands on designing and helping to build a racetrack is very exciting." Waltrip and Schottenstein both declined to say how much the team invested. The SPARC complex will include a half-mile racetrack with 8,500 seats, a 50,000-square-foot office building for the research center, 1,900 parking spaces, a hotel and meeting center, and four or five sites for restaurants or stores along Mound Street. It's unlikely, but possible an actual NASCAR race could take place at SPARC, Waltrip said. Waltrip Racing is based in Cornelius, N.C., and will use SPARC as a satellite operation and test center. Most tracks of the quality of SPARC, Waltrip said, are already connected to an existing NASCAR race, which means teams can't test their cars there. Cooper Stadium closed in 2008, and one of the goals of the new project is to spark the revitalization of the Franklinton area just west of Downtown.(Columbus Dispatch)(12-5-2012)
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
Congratulations 2015 Champ Kyle Busch
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Born in NOVEMBER:
30 Danny Earnhardt, Dave Dion, Dick Hutcherson, Shawna Robinson, Chris Hussey, Andy Kirby, Brittany Glover
Born in DECEMBER:
1 Stanton Barrett Jr, Kenny Francis, David Evans, Danny Gill, Larry Gunselman
2 Erik Darnell, Kelly Kellis, Victoria Trickle
3 Bobby Allison, Cody Cook
4 Dean Johnson, Evelyn Andrews, Doug Keller
5 J.D. McDuffie, Jim Paschal, Jim Hurtubise
6 Stacey Witzke, Christian Elder
7 Geoff Smith, Dylan Lupton, Paul Moore, Richmond Gage
8 Susan Adamczyk (sister), Garry Hill, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Kerry Earnhardt, Jason Ratcliff, Nadine Lubejko, John Cohen, Zachary Jarrett
9 Tomy Drissi, Coy Gibbs, Brad Teague, Steve Richards
10 Mike Barrientos, Makayla Ann McSwain, Jerry Honeycut
11 Frankie Adamczyk, Mariah Belber, Eric McClure, Chris Horn, Tony Eury Sr.
12 Ed Watkins, Rick Pennington, Emerson Fittipaldi
13 Army National Guard, Jim Vandiver, Jarrett Andretti, David Stover, Mark Nickels, Michael Mumford
14 NASCAR (meeting at Streamline Hotel), Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Darrin Dykes, Steve Hmiel, Bob Tracey, Harry McMullen
15 Jeff Beck, Eli Gold, Lance McGrew
16 A.J. Allmendinger
17 Mike Beam, Dustin Long, Matt Martin, Montgomery Lee Petty, Bobby East
18 Ted Musgrave, Vic Irvan, Tom Polansky
19 Patty Moise, Paul Tracy, Sheldon Schrader, John Monsham
20 Erin Marco, Taylor Nicole Earnhardt, Kinsley Parsons
21 Daniel Knost, Travis Kittleson, Michael McDowell
22 David Pearson
23 Greg Biffle, Peter Sospenzo, Ray Dunlap, Chris Cook, Addison Frye
24 Fr. Steven Janoski, David Ragan, Krista Marie Allison, Mike Gooch
25 Jesus Christ, Charles Comstock, Randy Earnhardt, Jimmy Buffett, Starr Elliott, Butch Lamoreux, Curtis W. Key, Noel Schafer
26 Ben Kennedy, Blair Makenzie Nemechek, Josh Mick
27 Mike Laughlin, Don Radebaugh
28 Jack Ingram, Nelson Stacy, Brittany Wallace, Joyce Kearns
29 Waddell Wilson, Boston Reid, Mike Bagley, Owen Kearns Jr., Jessica Stroupe
30 Fred Lorenzen, Donnie Mergard, Ryan Hemphill, Kole Kahne, Cooper Berrier
31 Ryan Blaney, Riley Craven, Benny Ertel, Joe Hicks, Dorthy Schrader, Beth Simons-Dykes, John Wes Townley