Miller to serve as Truex's crew chief: Scott Miller, MWR's new executive vice president of competition, will serve as #56-Martin Truex's interim crew chief for the remainder of the year. Miller began his duties at MWR this week.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(11-3-2011)
NASCAR Confiscates Windshields: UPDATE: NASCAR confiscated the windshields from Michael Waltrip Racing's #00 and #56 Toyotas and from the #47 Toyota for JTG-Daugherty Racing on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. Each team was forced to switch out the windshield for a new one after they were found to have unapproved modifications. Any penalties for the infraction will come next week. The #00 and #56 cars went out and paced the final practice session.(Motor Racing Network)(10-21-2011)
UPDATE: NASCAR has issued penalties to the #00, #47 and #56 teams that compete in the Sprint Cup Series as a result of rule infractions discovered during opening day inspection Oct. 21 at Talladega Superspeedway. All three cars were found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-3.2.1A (unapproved modification to an approved windshield) of the 2011 NASCAR rule book. Crew chiefs Rodney Childers (#00), Frank Kerr (#47) and Chad Johnston (#56) have each been fined $50,000 and have been suspended from the next four Sprint Cup Series championship events and suspended from NASCAR until Nov. 23. Car chiefs Steve Channing (#00), Raymond Fox (#47) and Anthony Lunders (#56) have likewise been suspended from the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship events and suspended from NASCAR until Nov. 23. Additionally, Bobby Kennedy, director of competition for Michael Waltrip Racing, has been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Car owners Rob Kauffman (#00), Tad Geschickter (#47), and Michael Waltrip (#56) have each been penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points. Drivers David Reutimann (#00), Bobby Labonte (#47), and Martin Truex Jr. (#56) have each been penalized with the loss of 25 championship driver points.(NASCAR)(10-25-2011)
AND: "We are very disappointed in this entire situation and we will not appeal NASCAR's ruling," JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "We look forward to racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend and getting ready for next season." Team chief race engineer Brian Burns will assume the role as crew chief for the #47 Toyota Camry replacing Frank Kerr and Bob Bechstein has been named car chief replacing Raymond Fox following penalties assessed by NASCAR.(JTG Daugherty Racing)(10-25-2011)
AND: "Michael Waltrip Racing is ultra-sensitive and very serious about working within the guidelines of NASCAR policy. We do not condone this type of activity and as such we will take appropriate internal corrective action immediately. We thank NASCAR for providing a fair and equitable platform for all of its competitors and respect its decisions; therefore, we will not appeal." The following team personnel moves will take effect until NASCAR reinstates the suspended crew members:
#56 Team: Veteran crew chief Pat Tryson will serve as interim crew chief in place of suspended crew chief Chad Johnston at Martinsville. Allen Mincey, #56 race mechanic, will serve as interim car chief in place of suspended car chief Tony Lunders
#00 Team: Bobby Kennedy, executive vice president of race operations, will serve as interim crew chief in place of Rodney Childers. Chris Hall, #00 race mechanic, will serve as interim car chief in place of suspended car chief Steve Channing.
Both crew and car chiefs will return to their positions following their suspensions.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(10-25-2011)
MWR settles suit with former engineer: Michael Waltrip Racing has settled a lawsuit with a former engineer who left the organization for a Formula One team before his contract allegedly ran out. MWR had sued Mike Coughlan and the Williams F1 team in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, asking for an unspecified amount in damages for breach of contract and, against Williams, interference with the contract. In a filing Tuesday, attorneys on both sides asked the court to dismiss the case. No reason was given for the request, but Michael Waltrip Racing confirmed the settlement.(SceneDaily)(10-21-2011)
Waltrip & Truex to present cars to Military Families: Michael Waltrip and #56-Martin Truex Jr. normally race Toyotas at high speeds in NASCAR, but around Kansas Speedway this weekend, they will be giving away passenger cars to deserving military families. Waltrip and Truex will join the Cars 4 Heroes program in giving at least 18 cars to families. The six-year-old, non-profit organization has helped thousands of military families across the country obtain transportation. Waltrip will visit the NAPA AUTO PARTS/Joplin Automotive Supply in Joplin, Mo. on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to present the cars to the families. It is located at 731 West 7th Street. "I'm lucky to have the opportunities that I've had in my life because of military families who sacrifice their own lives or time spent with loved ones for our freedom," said the two-time Daytona 500 champion. "This is our opportunity to give back to those families. We know times are tough and these military families deserve a helping hand." Truex joins Waltrip in the campaign on Sunday when the drivers and NAPA plan to surprise a family with keys to a Toyota Avalon at the NAPA Race Day Experience at Kansas Speedway. Molle Toyota of Kansas City donated the car the drivers will give away on Sunday. NAPA and 25 of its NAPA AutoCare centers in the Kansas City area fitted the cars with new NAPA parts to bring them up to top running condition.(MWR)(10-7-2011)
JTG Daugherty ending alliance with MWR? UPDATE - Bowyer in, JTG out?: Michael Waltrip Racing currently fields two teams with #56-Martin Truex Jr. and #00-David Reutimann, and supplies cars for #47-Bobby Labonte and JTG Daugherty Racing out of its Mooresville, N.C., shop. Sources said JTG Daugherty Racing may cut its tie to MWR but remain in the sport with Labonte as its driver in 2012.(ESPN)(9-16-2011)
UPDATE: MWR has paved the way for a third full-time entry [with Clint Bowyer] by ending its affiliation with JTG Daugherty Racing, which had housed its #47 entry at the team's headquarters as part of its alliance. Team owner Brad Daugherty plans to keep his organization on track next season but is currently looking at options to align with another team, with speculation of a partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports. Daugherty's affinity to and admiration of Petty has even included the former college basketball and NBA star wearing the #43 throughout his career. An association as NASCAR business partners would further that connection. RPM was close to launching a third team with Bowyer before contract talks with the driver broke down so the desire to expand is evident.(CBS Sports)(9-22-2011)
UPDATE 2: JTG Daugherty Racing hasn't decided on an affiliation for next season, and retaining its relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing is still an option, team owner Tad Geschickter told Sporting News on Thursday. Geschickter said his phone had been "blowing up" in the wake of a report on CBSsports.com that MWR had terminated its relationship with JTG Daugherty, which fields Toyotas for Bobby Labonte, and speculation in the same story that JTG Daugherty might align itself with Richard Petty Motorsports. "I haven't talked with Richard Petty Motorsports," Geschickter said. "There's no truth to that at all." Geschickter said that, to his knowledge, MWR was still exploring its capacity to supply cars to JTG in light of possible expansion.(Sporting News)(9-23-2011)
UPDATE 3: Michael Waltrip Racing is preparing to add a driver but not a team. Team co-owner Michael Waltrip said Friday he hopes to have a deal completed with driver Clint Bowyer and a sponsor within seven to 10 days. The move will not necessitate the addition of new personnel or expansion, however. MWR has been providing resources for the JTG Daugherty team - in essence a third team - but that relationship will end at year's end. Beginning next season, all three Cup teams operated out of the MWR shop will be owned by the organization.(Charlotte Observer)(9-24-2011)
Scott Miller leaving RCR: UPDATES: Scott Miller and Richard Childress Racing have parted ways. Miller had served as director of competition since 2003 for RCR, whose drivers are Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard. After a short sabbatical, sources said Tuesday, Miller will fill a similar role at Michael Waltrip Racing. Kent Day will serve as interim director of competiton for RCR until a permanent replacement can be found. Miller was in his second stint with RCR, having initially worked with the team from 1997 to 2001.(Fox Sports)(9-20-2011)
UPDATE: Richard Childress Racing has promoted Kent Day to interim director of competition from his previous position as technical director with the 12-time NASCAR championship winning organization. Former RCR director of competition Scott Miller has taken a position with another motorsports organization."Kent brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new position as interim director of competition at Richard Childress Racing," said Mike Dillon, RCR's vice president of competition. "As technical director, he played an integral role in the overhaul and turnaround of RCR's competition department beginning in mid-2008. He already understands our competition philosophy and will now play an even more important role in RCR's on-track success.(RCR)(9-20-2011)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip Racing named industry veteran Scott Miller as executive vice president of competition effective at the conclusion of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Miller has served in several roles throughout his 16-year stint in NASCAR, most recently as director of competition at Richard Childress Racing. Miller has been a winning crew chief and has repeatedly guided teams into the Chase for the Sprint Cup from his management role. Miller will manage all competition aspects, including design, manufacturing and engineering, as well as the technical relationship between Toyota Racing Development's resource facilities in Salisbury, N.C., and Costa Mesa, Calif.(MWR)(9-21-2011)
Bowyer expected to sign with Michael Waltrip Racing: UPDATES: Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Clint Bowyer is near agreement on a new, multi-year contract with Michael Waltrip Racing, with an announcement expected within the next 24-48 hours. Bowyer will leave Richard Childress Racing at season's end, after being unable to come to terms with the team for which he has competed for his entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. The Emporia, Kansas, native is reported to have spoken -- at least preliminarily -- with at least four teams; Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. MWR emerged as the leading candidate within the last two weeks, and now, final details are being wrapped up that will put Bowyer in an MWR Toyota Camry next season as a teammate to Martin Truex, Jr., and David Reutimann. Sponsorship will come from Five Hour Energy. The multi-year deal is in the final stages of negotiation, with an official announcement expected this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.(Sirius Speedway)(9-15-2011)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip issued the following statement Friday afternoon: "I can confirm we have had very productive conversations with Clint and a quality sponsor. Today, however, we don't have anything finalized and we're not in a position to make any formal announcements. Our goal has never changed. Rob (Kauffman) and I want to continue to improve the competitiveness of our team and be a consistent winner at NASCAR's highest level. Pursuing Chase-proven personnel, including drivers, has been a priority. As soon as we have more information to share, we will."(MWR)(9-16-2011)
UPDATE 2: During a Friday morning interview on Sirius Satellite Radio, Rusty Wallace confirmed that Five-Hour Energy was leaving his Nationwide team next year for Sprint Cup and was shopping itself as a package deal with Bowyer. "I hear they'll run about 20 races," Wallace said. "They've been with me for over four years and put a lot of money in our team and been awesome partners of mine, but they want to move to the Cup series, and I'm not in the Cup series. They aligned with Clint Bowyer because he was out of a ride with Childress."(USA Today)(9-17-2011)
RPM no longer interested in Bowyer: Richard Petty Motorsports has withdrawn its offer to Clint Bowyer to drive a car for the organization in 2012. Team owner Andrew Murstein confirmed to FOXSports.com that RPM has decided to go in another direction with the program. "We are no longer in discussions with Clint," Murstein said. "We just feel that RPM is in a great place today, especially how far we have come since last year. Both #9-Marcos (Ambrose) and #43-A.J. (Allmendinger) are not only having career years, but they are both moving in the right directions and improving. "Clint is a great driver and we wish him the best wherever he ends up. For now, we will continue to focus on our two teams and continuing to make great strides as we return the King and his unmatched tradition and legion of loyal fans back into Victory Lane." The most recent organization in the Bowyer sweepstakes is Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer was seen touring MWR last Thursday. If he ends up at MWR, expect the company to a run a third team along with current drivers #00-David Reutimann and #56-Martin Truex, Jr.(Fox Sports)(9-14-2011)
Truex Jr. helps family: #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. will make more than 200 pit stops during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, but he served as crew chief for one of the most memorable pit stops of his career on Thursday in Richmond, VA. Truex Jr. visited Carroll's Auto Services in Richmond to supervise the pit stop for the Nanette Smith family whose car had fallen out of repair. Truex and the shop employees put on new NAPA brakes and made some general repairs to the 10-year-old vehicle. Smith, 48, is waging a six-year battle with breast cancer and the accompanying radiation and chemotherapy treatments while she and husband Lee raise their two teenagers. During the day, she's a hospice worker helping families deal with the emotions of illness – something she's learned to master through her own experience. Even with an incredible attitude and good medical coverage, Smith and her husband Lee admit the out-of-pocket expenses to fight cancer "cost a small fortune." The money the Smiths would have spent on Thursday's work can now go toward paying some of the bills that Smith said, "don't stop coming just because you have cancer." That wasn't lost on Truex. "They may have it rough right now but they are rich when it comes to attitude," said Truex, who will host the Smiths in his pit before Saturday night's race. Thursday's pit stop for the Smith family will be the first of about 56 similar events in Richmond kicking off the NAPA KNOWS HOW TO CARE program that runs through October. Richmond NAPA AutoCare Centers will accept nominations from customers of deserving families or organizations that could use a brake repair and vehicle tune up similar to the work done for the Smiths.(MWR)(9-10-2011)
NAPA and Truex good at MWR thru 2012: Martin Truex Jr. has had an underwhelming tenure in his nearly two years at Michael Waltrip Racing. While the #56 NAPA Toyota has run well off an on since Truex Jr. joined the team before the 2010 season, bad luck has ruined many of those runs. With crew chief Pat Tryson replaced with Chad Johnston, the team has turned its season around and now has one more top 5 (two) and one more top 10 (eight) than he had all of last year. But just as the team turned the bend, rumors surfaced about longtime Waltrip sponsor NAPA possible defecting to Joe Gibbs Racing, if Carl Edwards were to leave Roush Fenway Racing for that team. Nothing happened, though, and Truex Jr., in his 6th full Sprint Cup season, says he never worried about being swept away in the Silly Season. "No. To be honest with you I never really got involved in that. NAPA has been behind us and stood behind MWR," he said in an interview with News/Talk WSB Monday. "We obviously have a deal through next year, so it was never really a worry of mine. To be honest, it was really a non-issue for all of us."(News/Talk WSB)(8-31-2011)
MWR's VP of Competition to leave at end of 2011: Steve Hallam has accepted the role of Managing Director of Walkinshaw Racing overseeing both the Toll Holden Racing Team, and the Bundaberg Racing Team. Hallam is currently Executive Vice President of Competition for Michael Waltrip Racing in NASCAR, and prior to that was Head of Race Operations for McLaren Racing. Hallam will start his role at Walkinshaw Racing at the beginning of 2012 once he completes his current commitments with Michael Waltrip Racing (v8supercars.com.au).(8-19-2011)
Pediatric Care Center in NJ to be named after Truex Jr.: The Pediatric Care Center at Southern Ocean Medical Center will carry NASCAR driver and township native Martin Truex Jr.'s name. The Pediatric Care Center improvement is part of a $20 million emergency room expansion at the hospital. An October fundraiser, the Martin Truex Jr. Great Causeway Challenge, will raise money for the center, which includes six patient rooms. The multimillion-dollar expansion will triple the size of the emergency room, double patient capacity and add the new pediatric center. The expansion is expected to be completed at the end of 2013. The hospital treats over 40,000 patients each year. The event features a duathlon, starting with a 30-mile bike ride across the Route 72 Causeway Bridge to Ship Bottom, north to Barnegat Light and back, followed by a 10K run. The 10K race is sponsored by the Southern Ocean Medical Center staff, Bleiman said. There will also be a 5K run, a 5K walk and a children's 1-mile fun run. More info at martintruexjrfoundation.org.(Atlantic City Press)(8-16-2011)
Berrier to MWR? Todd Berrier -- the star Sprint Cup crew chief for so many years with Richard Childress, first with #29-Kevin Harvick, lately with #31-Jeff Burton -- could be headed to the Toyota camp, according to those familiar with the situation. Perhaps some division of the huge Michael Waltrip empire, which include the Tad Geschickter team, as well as Pastrana-Waltrip.(MikeMulhern.net)(8-15-2011)
NAPA to JGR? denied: Several sources have mentioned Joey Logano moving to a fourth JGR car sponsored by NAPA, the current sponsor on the #56 Toyota. When asked about NAPA's future relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing, a team principal said the contract runs through 2012 and NAPA is committed to that agreement.(FoxSports)(7-31-2011)
Update on Shane Hmiel: Former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel doesn't know if he will walk again. He doesn't know exactly how he will be involved in racing again. He doesn't even know why he's alive. There's one thing Shane Hmiel believes, though: He's lucky, despite an Oct. 9 accident in a Silver Crown car that damaged his brain and spinal cord. He might not know for another four or five years how much he will need the wheelchair he currently has to use, but the 31-year-old Hmiel has an incredibly upbeat attitude about his life. See full article at SceneDaily and a video from a NASCAR Race Hub episode at SPEED.(7-30-2011)
Special scheme for Truex at Indy: Martin Truex Jr.'s #56 NAPA Toyota is going platinum for this weekend's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He'll be behind the wheel of the #56 NAPA Platinum Filter Toyota to launch NAPA's new family of filters — Silver, Gold and Platinum. The quality filters hit the shelves Aug. 1. During the month, fans who pick up one up at their local NAPA AUTO PARTS store can save money on oil change specials. Plus, they can register for a chance to win $50,000 in the NAPA Filters Do It Your Way Sweepstakes (MWR). See an image of the car on the #56 Team Schemes page.(7-28-2011)
Cal Wells leaves Michael Waltrip Racing: Michael Waltrip Racing and Calvin Wells have mutually agreed to part ways it was announced by co-owners Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip. The separation is effective immediately. "We want to thank Cal for his strong contribution to getting Michael Waltrip Racing to where it is today. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors, " said Kauffman. "We plan to go forward now with the solid management team that is in place, and bring MWR to the next level."(MWR) Wells had been Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for the team. Before joining MWR he was owner of PPI Motorsports' #32 Cup team.(7-25-2011)
Michael Waltrip Racing sues former engineer, F1 team: Michael Waltrip Racing is suing a former engineer who recently left the organization for a Formula One team before his contract allegedly ran out. MWR is suing Mike Coughlan and the Williams F1 team in U.S. District Court in Charlotte. It is asking for a unspecified amount in damages for breach of contract and, against Williams, interference with the contract. Coughlan was responsible for overseeing all design, production, engineering and quality control programs at MWR. The suit alleges that his departure impacted the team's performance, resulting in a loss of prize money and potential sponsorship.(Scene Daily)(7-16-2011)
Special scheme for Truex Jr. at Kentucky: NAPA Auto Parts kicks off its July Good To Go promotion with a special paint scheme on the #56 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. Fans can save money through mail-in rebates on NAPA Power 65 ($5 off), Legend 75 ($10 off), Legend Premium 84 ($15 off) and Optima ($20 off) batteries. Good To Go also includes mail-in rebates on select starters and alternators. For complete details, visit: napaonline.com. NAPA Racing will host Honorary Pit Crew Member Keith Tennill. He is the owner of Probilt Automotive, a NAPA AutoCare Center since 1998, Louisville. He will be recognized in NAPA pre-race festivities and have his name decaled on the #56 NAPA Toyota.(MWR), see images of the car on the #56 Team Schemes page.(7-6-2011)
Truex's spotter to miss some races: Keith Barnwell, spotter for #56-Martin Truex Jr., will step away from the spotters stand for a while to help take care of family matters. The leave of absence starts this week at Daytona. Barnwell's Mom was recently diagnosed with cancer and just yesterday was moved into Hospice care. Barnwell said: "I just feel like I need to stay closer to home until Mom improves and beats this thing. Family comes first and I appreciate Ty Norris and the MWR team allowing me to take the time that I need to help get to where we need to be. When Mom improves enough, maybe I can jump back in and help out at least on race days". Norris will sub as Truex's spotter.(6-29-2011)
MWR to field full time Grand Am team in 2012: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody has learned that Michael Waltrip Racing will field a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series entry in 2012. Team owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman recently drove a Ferrari 458 Italia in the 24 Hours of Lemans endurance event, and sources say thay are in Daytona Beach, FL, today talking with Grand Am boss Jim France about adding a sports car effort to their two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation. Executive Vice President for Competition Steve Hallam will reportedly oversee the effort.(6-29-2011)
Schick challenging Gillette in NASCAR: UPDATE: Schick is stepping up to challenge Gillette's reign in the razor category in NASCAR. The Energizer Holdings razor brand has signed a deal with Martin Truex Jr. and will put its decal on Michael Waltrip Racing's #56 car for as many as 10 races, according to sources familiar with the agreement. It also plans to do product sampling in the coming months at a handful of tracks owned by International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. Terms of the agreements were not available. Schick, whose Canadian division signed on to sponsor Canadian-born Nationwide Series driver J.R. Fitzpatrick two years ago, is expected to announce the U.S. sponsorships and promotions at Michigan International Speedway, which hosts a Sprint Cup Series race June 19. The deals move Schick into a territory that has been dominated over the years by Gillette. The Procter & Gamble razor company has been an official partner of NASCAR since 2003 and promoted its sponsorship by signing young NASCAR drivers and developing a "Young Guns" campaign around them. The deal with Truex and Michael Waltrip Racing gives Schick ties to a driver and race team for promotions and marketing. Truex, 30, is 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings. His best finish this year was sixth at Las Vegas. Schick plans to supplement that deal with sampling at the track. It is in conversations with ISC to sample at least two tracks, and SMI to sample at Kentucky Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.(SportingNews / SportsBusiness Journal)(6-11-2011)
UPDATE: The makers of Schick Xtreme3 Refresh announced a partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing and Martin Truex Jr. to support the launch of Schick Xtreme3 FitStyle Refresh, a high performance razor with a handle designed to invigorate men's shaves. Schick Xtreme3 will join Truex's # 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota as an associate sponsor beginning at Michigan International Speedway, where Schick Xtreme3 Refresh kicks off the first of 10 in-field activations that will provide refreshing experiences to NASCAR fans. Truex will participate in "meet and greets" with fans at in-field campground sites, where NASCAR attendees can test drive the razor and get a dose of refreshment. A Schick Xtreme3 Refresh RV will feature free razors, shave stations, a refreshing misting station, prize games including a boat race game and a pop-up lounge to watch the races.(MWR)(6-18-2011)
MWR Owners Enjoy Le Mans Experience: The #71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 driven by Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman and Rui Aguas retired due to transmission failure after racing about 16 hours in the 79th annual running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The team placed 13th in the GTE Pro class and 38th overall. Only 28 of the 56-car field finished the endurance race on the historic eight-mile track. Despite the early exit, Waltrip and Kauffman are enthusiastic about a potential return to Le Mans. "We had a blast and we hope to return in the future," said Kauffman. "It was a privilege to participate in the Le Mans 24 Hours."
Waltrip said the week-long events culminating with the race will be one of the highlights of his career: "I'm a NASCAR guy and will always be a NASCAR guy. But, this was pretty cool. It's been a wild week. It started with rushing out of the television booth at the Kansas truck race and taking planes, trains and automobiles to get here in time for scrutineering the next day. The events in Le Mans during the week were awesome and you could really start to feel the intensity build as the race drew closer. It was amazing to watch the battle between Peugeot and Audi. This is what those guys live for and they take it seriously. Once the race started the track was awesome. I love the manufacturer involvement, the layout, the fans, the flags. It was just a spectacle. I see why this is one of the world's great events. We weren't very fortunate in the race, but our AF Corse team car finished second so that was really cool. We learned a lot with this new car and I really look forward to what the future holds for us in sports car racing. I'm ready to go home and get back to the NASCAR garage at Michigan."(MWR)(6-12-2011)
Martin Truex Jr. Motorsports installs solar panels: Martin Truex Jr. Motorsports announced the construction and implementation of a system of solar panels on their roof in Mooresville, NC. Being green may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about NASCAR, but the sport has begun to buck that trend through green initiatives that extend from an ethanol-blended race fuel to a hybrid pace car. Argand Energy Solutions of Charlotte designed and built the 61 kilowatt (KW) solar electric system consisting of 192 solar modules manufactured by SunPower Corp. Each panel generates 318 watts of clean electricity. The system is large enough to power about seven average U.S. homes for an entire year. While the energy generated will be sent back Duke Power's grid, the system will offset about 75% of the building's electricity use. NASCAR fans can visit MTJ Motorsports to see first-hand how the solar power system works and the energy that it's generating. The company hopes that their involvement in renewable energy generation will influence race fans to consider energy alternatives that are available to them and a more "green" lifestyle. In addition to the energy savings, the system will offset approximately 55 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to planting more than 1,400 trees and growing them for 10 years.(MTJ Motorsports)(6-9-2011)
New crew chief for Truex UPDATE2: popping up all over Twitterland: #56-Martin Truex Jr. has a new crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing, Chad Johnston takes over for former crew chief Pat Tryson. No word on Tryson's future plans.
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip Racing announced the promotion of Chad Johnston from lead engineer to crew chief of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr. Johnston's new role is effective immediately as the team prepares for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. Johnston joined the #56 team midway through last season and was instrumental in setting up the NAPA Toyota for the two-time Nationwide Series champion. The 31-year-old native of Cayuga, Ind., entered NASCAR in 2004 and has worked with drivers Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Elliott Sadler, Scott Riggs and Dennis Setzer.
Pat Tryson has been redeployed within Michael Waltrip Racing.(MWR)
UPDATE2: Tryson said he remains under contract with MWR and isn't sure what his new responsibilities will be. "Somebody always has to be that guy," he told ESPN.com. "I wouldn't say I was part of the problem. As a company we aren't running well. It's a strange deal. I really can't say much."(ESPN.com)(6-7-2011)
MWR Family of Teams & Drivers To Host Collections For Joplin Victims: Race fans can join Michael Waltrip Racing's teams and drivers at two locations in the Kansas City area Thursday night collecting donations for the tornado victims of Joplin, Mo. "I want to show the world that NASCAR has the best fans and I want everyone to come out and support our friends and neighbors in Joplin by bringing stuff they really need right now," said team owner Michael Waltrip. "If you bring it, my guys will drive it to Joplin." #00 Aaron's/TUMS Toyota team members and driver David Reutimann along with JTG Daugherty Racing's #47 Clorox Toyota driver Bobby Labonte will host collections at the Aaron's store in Shawnee, Kan. 6-8 p.m. Thursday [June 2nd] while #56 NAPA AUTO PARTS team members and Martin Truex Jr. will do the same 6-8 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shops in Olathe, Kansas. Waltrip will join the No. 00 team at the Aaron's store 6-6:45 p.m. before joining the #56 team 7:15-8 p.m. in Olathe.
Fans can meet, take pictures and collect autographs from the drivers and crewmembers at both sites in return for donations of canned foods, blankets, and toiletry items MWR will transport to Joplin on Friday. The first 200 donations at the Olathe Bass Pro Shops will receive a No. 56 die cast racecar while the first 200 donations at the Aaron's store will receive a nine-inch "Lucky Dog" stuffed animal.
Waltrip said MWR sponsors NAPA, Aaron's, TUMS, Toyota, Best Western, Boost Mobile and Bass Pro Shops created the events as a response to the tragedy in Missouri. MWR employees at the team's Cornelius, N.C. race shop will also collect items for the truck going to Joplin. "Everyone has seen the devastation on television and we wanted to help those people who are suffering right now," said Waltrip. "We're racing in the area this weekend at Kansas Speedway and we just wanted to do something that gives back to this community and the people that mean so much to MWR and NASCAR. I hope everyone in the area will come out to the Aaron's store in Shawnee and the Bass Pro Shops in Olathe. We'll have some fun while we collect items the people in Joplin really need."
Aaron's, 12108 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee Kansas, is about 12 miles from Kansas Speedway while Bass Pro Shops, 12051 Bass Pro Drive in Olathe Kansas, is about 14 miles south of the track.
Michael Waltrip Racing will give fans outside the Kansas City area a way to help. The team will make Truex and Reutimann car hoods, fire suits worn during Sunday's race along with the racing gloves and shoes available through the NASCAR Unites online auction. During the week following the Kansas race, fans can bid on the MWR items at www.NASCAR.com/unites.
The death toll from the massive tornado that devastated the southwest Missouri city now stands at over 126. More than 900 people were injured in the May 22 tornado, which is now considered the nation's single-deadliest in six decades.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(5-29-2011)
Start 200 for Truex Jr.: Mayetta, N.J. native, #1-Martin Truex Jr., will be making his 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend at home track Dover. Truex sat on the pole in this event last season and has made 10 starts at Dover posting one win (2007) and three top 10s (NASCAR).(5-12-2011)
Congrats: Richard Coleman the front tire carrier on the #56 MWR team that Martin Truex Jr. drives for, and his wife Jessica Coleman welcomed their first born son Sunday [May 1st] afternoon at 4:45 pm. Richard Edward Coleman III was 8.1 lbs 21.5 in. Both Mother and baby doing well.(5-6-2011)
Crew changes for Truex: #56-Martin Truex Jr. will have new tire carriers and tire changers this weekend at Darlington. Steve Hallam, MWR's Executive Vice President said: "We've seen significant improvement in the overall performance of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota in 2011. With our impressive speed comes the added pressure of the entire team to perform. As we know, the #56 has experienced several challenges on pit road and we feel the need to intervene. Pit crews are professional sportsmen and as such, they understand that sometimes changes need to be made. The team will have new tire carriers and changers beginning at Darlington this weekend. Two of those four athletes we've added come from our Nationwide program and the other two from our back-up squad. Our organization is fortunate to have the flexibility and depth of experienced crew members to make adjustments from time to time that benefit everyone involved." The new crew members are Front Tire Changer: Eric Maycroft, Front Tire Carrier: Ricky Coleman, Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Rankin, Rear Tire Carrier: Jake Brzozowski.(MWR)(5-3-2011)
Michael Waltrip Racing's Fifth Annual Fan Fest, May 25th: #15-Michael Waltrip, #00-David Reutimann, #56-Martin Truex Jr., #47-Bobby Labonte, Ryan Truex & Brett Moffit are scheduled to sign autographs at Michael Waltrip Racing's Fifth Annual Fan Fest on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at its shop in Cornelius, North Carolina. Waltrip will sign autographs as well as his New York Times best-selling book "In the Blink of an Eye" from 1:00 - 3:00pm before joining all the drivers 5:30 - 7:30pm/et. MWR's Tim Brown, modified racer and star of the History Channel's 2010 reality series "Madhouse," will also sign autographs and display his No. 83 race car. Note: Pastrana-Waltrip Racing driver Travis Pastrana will not attend Fan Fest due to filming commitments for an upcoming movie, team merchandise will be available for purchase.
Michael Waltrip Racing is at exit 28 on I-77 in Cornelius, N.C. about 15 miles north of Charlotte, N.C. The team's race shop and gift shop will be open to the public throughout the day. More info at the Michael Waltrip Racing website.(5-3-2011)
Special scheme for Truex at Richmond: Martin Truex Jr. will climb behind the wheel of the #56 NAPA Ultimate Tune-Up Toyota for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond. The special scheme launches NAPA AUTO PARTS' big May promotion which gives consumers up to $75 back when purchasing specific NAPA "tune-up" related products. Qualified purchases can be made at NAPA stores or installed at NAPA AutoCare Centers or participating installer shops. NAPA Racing will host Honorary Pit Crew Member Marvin Gurganus. He is the general manager of the Colony Tire parts division in Edenton, N.C. He will be honored in NAPA pre-race festivities and have his name decaled on the #56 Toyota. Crew chief Pat Tryson on Preparing for Richmond: "The NAPA team tested in Orlando, Fla., at Walt Disney World Speedway on April 12-13. We wanted to try some different stuff with the rear bar and some front suspension packages to dial in the short tracks like Richmond."(MWR), see an image of the car on my #56 Team Schemes page.(4-27-2011)
Truex walks away from violent crash: With average lap speeds under 100 mph, it's hard to imagine a crash as violent as the one Martin Truex Jr. experienced Sunday on Lap 221. The throttle of Truex's #56 Toyota hung wide open, and Truex plowed through Kasey Kahne's #4 Toyota into the Turn 3 wall with an impact that destroyed and ignited Truex's car. Truex, who walked away from the wreck, expressed gratitude to NASCAR and the racetrack for the safer cars and SAFER barriers that cushioned the impact of the wreck. "Ten years ago, I wouldn't be standing here, so I'm thankful for that," Truex said. "You can lock the brakes up, but there's nothing to do (when the throttle sticks). As unfortunate as it was that Kasey was involved, he really helped slow my car down when I hit him. It was probably a blessing. Hate that we took him out."(Sporting News)(4-4-2011)
Ex-Formula 1 Designer with MWR: Briton Mike Coughlan, the former McLaren Formula 1 Design Director, is now working in NASCAR as the director of vehicle design for Michael Waltrip Racing in Cornelius, N.C. The British-born engineer suspended from McLaren after the infamous 2007 "Spygate" scandal after Ferrari engineer, Nigel Stepney, passed on secret design documents to him. In a forward-looking interview Coughlan spoke with Auto123.com about his impressions since joining the NASCAR world. He came back to racing after helping design the Ocelot, a composite-based light tactical vehicle for Force Protection based in Ladson, South Carolina. Through former McLaren colleague Steve Hallam, he was contacted by MWR's Cal Wells who asked him "to come back to racing". See interview at Auto123.com.(4-1-2011)
MWR drivers meeting with Chicago White Sox players: They affectionately call themselves Redneck Row and they are back for another season in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. It's a line of lockers that stretches from Mark Buehrle to Matt Thornton, with guys like John Danks and Jake Peavy in between. And while one member of the group has moved on in Scott Linebrink, Adam Dunn has taken his place. Redneck Row is certainly buzzing this week since NASCAR has brought its traveling road show to the Arizona desert. The two groups are scheduled to hook up Saturday for a little action on the baseball field, before ending the day at Phoenix International Raceway. The drivers for Michael Waltrip's racing team will be in White Sox camp Saturday morning to see what they can do once they step outside of a car. Waltrip is scheduled to be on hand along with #00-David Reutimann, #56-Matrin Truex Jr. and Ryan Truex. The four are expected to take some cuts in the batting cage and field ground balls. Later Saturday afternoon, a group of White Sox players that includes Buehrle, Dunn, Gordon Beckham, A.J. Pierzynski, Danks and Peavy will attend the Nationwide Series race, the Bashas' Supermarkets 200.(ESPN.com)(2-25-2011)
Forbes names most valuable NASCAR teams & highest paid drivers: The weak economy has pummeled NASCAR over the past three years, with sponsorships, merchandise sales, race winnings and subsidies from automakers falling. Fans have tuned out, sending TV ratings down 24% since 2006 and leaving more than 40,000 empty seats at some races last year. One of its longest-tenured teams, Richard Petty Motorsports, was scrambling for cash on a week-to-week basis so it could race on weekends last fall. Is NASCAR headed for a full-blown meltdown? Hardly. Yes, the value of the top 10 teams slid 5% in 2010, on average, to $136 million by [Forbes] count, as prize money dropped and sponsors dialed back their commitment, but a rebound in 2011 for the sport is a strong possibility. NASCAR's strongest and most valuable team remains Hendrick Motorsports. With a valuation of $350 million on revenues of $177 million in 2010, Hendrick is worth 56% more than the next-highest-grossing team, Roush Fenway Racing, which [Forbes] value at $224 million on revenues of $140 million last year. Hendrick earned a NASCAR-high $18 million in operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in 2010. Richard Childress Racing was third on the list, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing. Rounding out the top 10: Stewart-Haas, Michael Waltrip Racing, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, and Red Bull Racing.
AND: Despite his lack of success in recent years on the track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains NASCAR's highest-paid driver, earning $29 million in 2010 thanks to merchandise sales that are the best in the sport and reportedly account for one-third of all NASCAR licensed merchandise sales. Other income streams include a 10-figure annual salary from Hendrick and a 50% share of his $4.9 million in winnings and bonuses in 2010 from Sprint Cup races. Earnhardt also has a bevy of personal endorsements, including Chevrolet, Nationwide and Wrangler. Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon follows Earnhardt in the NASCAR money standings with earnings of $25 million last year. It is a clean sweep for Hendrick at the top with five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, the third-highest-paid driver at $24 million. The rest of the top 10: Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth.(Forbes)(2-24-2011)
Classic car restorer, owned by MWR owner, opening new Charlotte headquarters: RK Motors Charlotte, a restorer, re-seller and builder of classic, muscle and high-performance cars, is opening a new corporate headquarters in Charlotte. The company has built a 40,000-square-foot showroom, which is open to the public, and broken ground on the second building, which will include a restoration and service area. The headquarters will encompass a total of 76,000 square feet and is at 5527 and 5523 Lakeview Road. The company, which was created last year, has been consolidating operations. The company was created by Joseph Carroll, RK Motors Charlotte president and CEO, and Robert Kauffman, a co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, and expects to open the second part of its headquarters this spring.(Charlotte Observer)(2-8-2011)
Pastrana to make NNS debut at Indy: Boost Mobile and Samsung Mobile will sponsor Travis Pastrana when the action sports icon embarks on his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in 2011. Pastrana will drive the #99 Boost Mobile Toyota for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing in seven Nationwide Series races this season, including a mid-summer debut in Indianapolis designed to bridge NASCAR with the ESPN X Games. Pastrana plans to compete in at least 20 races in 2012. See full story on Jayski's Nationwide Series site.(1-23-2011)
Michael Waltrip Racing owners finish 20th in Dubai 24: Michael Waltrip Racing owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman unofficially finished 20th overall (11th in class) of 84 cars racing in the sixth annual Dubai 24 Hour sports car race at the Dubai Autodrome. Waltrip and Kauffman were scheduled to race with co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matt Griffin in the Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team. But an electrical fire during warm-up prevented the car from racing. The two Americans joined the father-and-son driving team of Alexander Talkanista Sr., Alexander Talkanista Jr. of Belarus and Marco Frezza of Italy in the AF Corse team’s #6 Ferrari before the race. Once the race began the #6 climbed as high as 12th but contact with another car about 4 hours into the race required nearly 30 minutes of repairs dropping the team to about 49th. The team rallied and appeared destined for a top ten finish but a broken drive shaft ruined its chances. The team spent more than 2 hours 44 minutes in the pits during the 24-hour race. The team’s sister AF Corse car finished second. Waltrip and Kauffman raced in Dubai last year and in Belgium where they scored an impressive third-place finish on the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit. The pair expect to race together again in 2011. (more info and video links at the MWR site)(1-15-2011)
Michael Waltrip Racing owners qualify for Dubai 24: Michael Waltrip Racing owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman will start 22nd in class and 27th overall in Friday’s Dubai 24 Hour sports car race at the ultra-modern Dubai Autodrome. More than 80 cars from 30 countries made qualifying efforts on Thursday. Waltrip and Kauffman along with co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matt Griffin will pilot the Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team in the sixth annual event that marks the first international motor race of the 2011 season. The 24-hour race will start on Friday at 2 p.m. local time (5:00 am/et).(more info and video links at the MWR site), Boris Said is another driver with NASCAR connections that is running the race.(1-14-2011)
MWR owners to race in Dubai 24 Hour sports car race: Michael Waltrip Racing [#00 & #56 Toyota's] owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman are teaming up again to race in the sixth-annual Dubai 24 Hour sports car race at the ultra-modern Dubai Autodrome on Friday [Jan 14]. The event marks the first international motor race of 2011. Two-time Daytona 500 champion Waltrip and Kauffman will drive one of 90 entrants in the race that features nearly every sports car manufacturer. Waltrip and Kauffman will join co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matt Griffin behind the wheel of the Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team. Waltrip and Kauffman raced this car in Dubai last year and in Belgium where they scored an impressive third-place finish on the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit. NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Bobby Labonte and David Reutimann joined Waltrip and Kauffman at a Dec. 18-21 test session in Portugal where the AF Corse team prepared for Dubai.(MWR)(1-12-2011)
New spotter for Truex: TriStar Motorsports #35 Nationwide Series] General Manager Keith Barnwell is leaving the team effective immediately and has accepted another opportunity within the sport. A successor will be named soon. Barnwell will also spot for the #56 NAPA Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series, moving over from EGR and #1-Jamie McMurray.(12-31-2010)
Waltrip's 2011 Racing Plans: Michael Waltrip will join MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman behind the wheel of a Ferrari sports car in Portugal, Dubai and probably several other tracks across the globe in 2011. Waltrip will also run a Sprint Cup car for another shot at the Daytona 500, the new race at Kentucky Speedway and possibly a few more races along the way.(see more of Waltrip's 2011 plans at MWR)(12-21-2010)
Pastrana to Make NASCAR Debut in Toyota All-Star Showdown: Motocross and rally racer-turned-budding NASCAR competitor Travis Pastrana announced Tuesday that he would be making his NASCAR debut on January 28th and 29th in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA. Pastrana will compete for the first time with his newly-formed Pastrana-Waltrip Racing team in a K&N Pro Series East car. Pastrana completed a test in a NKNPSE car at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) on Monday and Tuesday (Speed51)(12-15-2010)
Some Spotters on the move: Silly season is just starting for NASCAR spotters.
Keith Barnwell goes from #1-Jamie McMurray to spotting for #56-Martin Truex Jr.
Lorin Ranier goes from the #6 Ford of David Ragan to the #1 team and McMurray.
Brett Griffin, fomerly Elliott Sadler's sponsor on the #19 RPM team that will close, replaces Rocky Ryan as the spotter for the #31
Chevy of Jeff Burton and is expected to continue his spotter duties with Elliott Sadler in the Nationwide Series.
Rocky Ryan could be a possible replacement for Ranier on the #6 car with David Ragan.
Kevin Hamlin started spotting for #33-Clint Bowyer at Texas in November.(FoxSports)(11-19-2010)
MWR team trainer to head home to Italy: A familiar face in the NASCAR garage area will soon say “Ciao” to her boss Michael Waltrip and her NAPA Know How Pit Crew. Michael Waltrip Racing’s team trainer Giovanna Lecis returns to Italy on Nov. 30 to resume work as a personal trainer near the Vatican in Rome. Lecis’ hard work over the last two seasons contributed to the two-time Daytona 500 champion losing weight and improving his strength. She was also instrumental in the five Tissot Precision Pit Crew and two Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Quarter awards won by MWR’s #00 and #56 teams’ pit crews.
MICHAEL WALTRIP ON GIOVANNA LECIS: “Giovanna has inspired me. She not only trains me, but she makes me want to train because of her spirit. She’s healthy physically as well as mentally. In my mind, the two are tied closely together. You have to like what you see when you look into the mirror and you have to like your commitment to improving yourself in order for a guy like me to like myself. When I started this process over two years ago, I don't think a normal trainer would have gotten me motivated enough to stay disciplined on a training regimen. Gio is a petite woman on the outside, but she is bigger than life on the inside. She makes me want to work hard for her. I am fortunate our paths crossed and I am grateful to call her my friend. She is going to be missed by everyone here at Michael Waltrip Racing.”
PIT CREW COACH GREG MILLER ON LECIS’ CONTRIBUTIONS TO MWR: “Her training is obviously very professional. When she came on board, it elevated our style of training in NASCAR. She’s been a champion in her own right in a different sport and the way she trains kind of showed the guys here that there is a whole new level to what we can accomplish. Having her involved in our program has done nothing but elevate our guys to be a different kind of athlete and have a different mentality to training. She created a whole new perspective as to how we train our pit crews.”
LECIS ON HER NASCAR PIT CREW EXPERIENCE: “It is the first time in my life that I had to learn to work in a group. I understand teamwork now. In Italy, I always worked as a personal trainer. It was one-on-one instruction. It was the same when I was in competition. It was just me and a coach. Here, it’s a team of pit crew guys. I had to think differently. I had to think with 10 people in mind and how to train them all together. It was hard in the beginning. I had to build their trust. I had to show them I was just as strong as them. I did one-arm push ups. Now, they are like my brothers. This is an experience I will remember for my entire life.”(MWR)(11-15-2010)
Travis Pastrana heading to NASCAR? UPDATE many reports out there that Travis Pastrana will leave Subaru Rally Team USA and head to NASCAR, supposedly siging with Michael Waltrip Racing / Diamond Waltrip Racing, supposedly running either the NASCAR K&N Racing Series or Nationwide Series in 2011. Supposedly Pastrana posted an image on his Twitter [but has since removed it] and an announcement could come as soon as Thursday. A few sites reporting this 'news' include: CBS Sports, NASCAR Examiner, AutoBlog.com [with an image of the car], SpeedFreaks and AutoWeekRacing.(11-10-2010)
UPDATE: Travis Pastrana is coming to NASCAR in 2011. After mining gold medals in the X Games, shattering jump records on both motorcycles and automobiles and starring as a cultural icon for the action sports world, the star of MTV’s “Nitro Circus” is ready to turn his attention to America’s most popular form of motorsports – NASCAR. Michael Waltrip Racing, Gary and Blake Bechtel and Pastrana announced today the creation of Pastrana-Waltrip Racing that will field cars in the NASCAR Nationwide Series beginning in 2011. Pastrana-Waltrip Racing will focus on creating programs that expose the action sports world’s fans and participants to NASCAR and develop youth marketing initiatives designed to create greater awareness of both sports. Initial plans are for Pastrana to compete in seven NASCAR Nationwide races in 2011 and twenty races in 2012. “I’ve been following NASCAR closely for years as a fan of the sport with competing in the sport a life-long dream,” Pastrana said. “I decided it was time to try and turn that dream into reality and with the help of the Bechtel family, Michael Waltrip Racing and Wasserman Media Group I’m now one step closer!” Pastrana-Waltrip Racing will field Toyotas out of the Michael Waltrip Racing shop in Cornelius, N.C. Waltrip noted the importance of the youth demographic Pastrana brings to NASCAR.(Pastrana-Waltrip Team/WMG)(11-11-2010)
Truex Jr. to run special NAPA Signature scheme: #56-Martin Truex Jr. and NAPA are again joining Susan G. Komen for the Cure to honor breast cancer victims, survivors and supporters during this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Over 2,400 fan-submitted names of breast cancer survivors and supporters adorn Truex’s #56 NAPA Signature Toyota. The paint scheme culminates a three-week NAPA Know How Facebook campaign where fans made a minimum contribution of $5.60 to place a pink-lettered name on the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Names in white signified a donation of $560 or more. The project raised $51,000. NAPA raised addition funds with the sale of NAPA All Out for the Cure limited edition hats [sold out] at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores and AutoCare Centers. Truex and NAPA Auto Parts will present a $250,000 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure during Sunday’s 1:00 pm NASCAR Race Day on SPEED broadcast. Truex will host Marcia Potter Dluhy of McKinney, Texas on Sunday. She is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2007 with Stage 2 breast cancer. She’s been in remission for two years. Her name is on the NAPA Signature Toyota (MWR)(11-3-2010)
Special schemes for Truex Jr. & NAPA: NAPA Auto Parts and driver Martin Truex Jr. are teaming up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to honor breast cancer victims, survivors and supporters during this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway. To kick off the campaign, Truex will drive the #56 NAPA All Out for the Cure Toyota to raise awareness of NAPA's efforts which consists of two special paint schemes and initiatives. NAPA Auto Parts is inviting fans to honor loved ones affected by breast cancer by placing their name on the NAPA Signature Toyota to raise funds. From now to Oct. 11, consumers can submit the names by making a minimum donation of $5.60 via the NAPA Know How Facebook page at www.facebook.com/napaknowhow. The NAPA Signature Toyota will race at the Nov. 7 AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (MWR), see images of the car on my #56 Team Schemes page.(9-29-2010)
Special colors for Truex at Richmond: Martin Truex’s #56 Toyota will have a silver look for Saturday’s race at Richmond. The NAPA Brakes paint scheme adorns Truex’s ride to help kick off NAPA’s Great Breaks on Great Brakes promotion. Customers can receive up to a $50 mail-in rebate with purchase of qualifying NAPA Brakes products at any participating NAPA AUTO PARTS store or AutoCare Center through Sept. 30. The #56 team tested at Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s race. The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation will host its third annual MTJF Golf Tournament more info on my Racing Charities page (MWR), see an image of the scheme on my #56 Team Schemes page.(9-8-2010)
Truex lauches website for NASCAR, hunting, fishing: #56-Martin Truex Jr. announced the launch of the Martin Truex Jr. Authentics website,, an online destination for NASCAR fans and outdoor enthusiasts. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and two-time Nationwide Series champion driver is known for his interest in hunting and fishing. The MTJ Authentics website provides an interactive forum for those that share his passion for these sports. Visitors to the site can share their own photos of outdoor triumphs, as well as rate and comment on other users' pictures. Fans can also shop products hand-picked and used by Truex.(Truex PR)(8-17-2010)
Waltrip, Kauffmann Suit up for Spa 24 Hour race: Michael Waltrip Racing co-owners’, Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman have teamed up with the AF Corse team for the second time in 2010 to run this weekend’s Spa 24 Hours endurance race on the Spa-Franchorchamps circuit [the 4.352-mile course] in Spa, Belgium. They’ll be going up against a field made up of four different categories and consisting of top manufactures such as Ferrari, Audi, Porsche and BMW. The AF Corse will compete in a Ferrari F430 GT2 and has captured two wins in this prestigious
event. The driver lineup will consist of Waltrip, Kauffman, Niki Cadei and Marco Cioci. Earlier this year, Waltrip joined Kauffman along with JTG Daugherty Racing’s Marcos Ambrose for the fifth annual Dubai 24 Hour sportscar race at the Dubai Autodrome on January 14-16. The AF Corse team performed extremely well — running sixth overall and leading its class before getting involved in an accident.(more info at Michael Waltrip Racing)(7-31-2010)
NAPA offers free scanner listen: NAPA Auto Parts wants to bring Martin Truex Jr. fans a little bit closer to the action Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway as well as the remaining 18 races in 2010 season —and you won’t even have to leave your couch. To honor the one-year anniversary of signing Truex to drive the #56 Toyota, NAPA will make the Michael Waltrip Racing team’s in-car audio available free of charge to fans who register at www.NAPAonline.com As an added bonus, Truex has vowed to sing the popular “NAPA Know How” jingle during a pace lap if 1,000 fans sign up.(MWR)(7-8-2010)
Truex accepts Gordon apology, but...: #24-Jeff Gordon might have to watch his bumper when the flag drops for Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He left last week's race at Infineon Raceway as NASCAR's most wanted for a series of overly aggressive moves on the track. One of those times led to a race-ending wreck for #56-Martin Truex Jr. Truex was running inside the top 10 when Gordon spun him, causing him to drop back into traffic, where he was caught in a multi-car accident. Gordon took the blame for that one and left an apology this week on Truex's voicemail. Truex has accepted the apology, and he wants Gordon to accept the fact that he'll change the way he races the four-time champion from here on out. "The nice guy seems to always get pushed around and I'm tired of being the nice guy," said Truex, who has one career win. "I'm tired of getting pushed around. There's been times when Jeff's caught me and never even gave me the chance to get out of the way. He just started running into me, and he's the first guy to hang his middle finger out the window when he goes by you. Things are going to change, that's all I'm saying." Gordon also angered #19-Elliott Sadler, #2-Kurt Busch and #16-Greg Biffle last week.(in part from the Associated Press)(6-27-2010)
#56 Over-the-Wall Team Tops On Pit Road In First Quarter: As one of the best in speed, performance and pit road prowess thus far in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota over-the-wall team from Michael Waltrip Racing has earned first-quarter honors in the 2010 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award competition. The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award, which is determined by a vote of each team’s crew chief, is given quarterly to the top-performing pit crew in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The four quarterly winners are eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award presented during Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. The award is part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provide teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories. Mechanix Wear, the #1 glove in racing, is the Official Glove of NASCAR used by nearly all pit crew members in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Members of the #56 NAPA “Know How” pit crew include: Cory Quick (front-tire changer), Craig Curione (front-tire carrier), Shannon Myers (rear-tire changer), Mark Kennerly (rear-tire carrier), Brian Chase (jackman), Doug Newell (gasman) and Keith Koppenal (catch can). The team’s pit crew coach is Greg Miller. The #56 pit crew was presented the first-quarter Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award during Saturday night pre-race ceremonies at Charlotte Motor Speedway.(NASCAR)(5-25-2010)
Monster Diesel joins #56 as associate sponsor: Michael Waltrip Racing announced Monster Diesel will join Martin Truex’s #56 NAPA Toyota as an associate sponsor beginning at this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway. The Baltimore based company’s logo will adorn the #56 car’s B-post for the remainder of the 2010 season and beyond. For the next few races fans will see it on rocker panel as well. ”NASCAR’s fan base is one of our target markets,” said Matt Zuckerman, CEO and president of Monster Diesel. “Michael Waltrip Racing brings solid business-to-business relationships, long-term stability and a commitment to winning that endures itself to Monster Diesel. Martin couldn’t be a better person to represent our company and Michael is one of the most dynamic car owners in the sport. We’re excited about this relationship.” Zuckerman added.(MWR)(5-15-2010)
Truex gives tix to kids: #1-Martin Truex Jr. and his foundation are hosting over 50 kids and family members on Sunday at Dover. The kids are from Ocean County, N.J. and are representing organizations such as Oceans of Love and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Truex will be meeting his guests prior to the Autism Speaks 400. They will be sitting together in the Family Section of the grandstands cheering Martin on to a victory!(EGR)(5-15-2010)
Parts confiscated from #13 and #47 teams UPDATE 2 Penalties announced: NASCAR confiscated the lower radiator pans from Max Papis' #13 Toyota and Marcos Ambrose's #47 Toyota during post-qualifying Sprint Cup Series inspection. The pans are considered "unapproved ballast weight mounting" according to Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby and is in violation of NASCAR Rule 20-2.3 (added car weight). Darby said the violation could carry a penalty. The piece confiscated on the #13 Toyota was 45.2-pounds, while the #47 Toyota's pan weighed 25.7 pounds. One crew chief who was observing the steel pieces in the NASCAR hauler after they were confiscated said the pans "should weigh a couple of pounds at best" and be composed of one-eighth inch aluminum. Frank Kerr, crew chief of the #47 Toyota said it was the same radiator pan the team has used all season. "We asked the inspectors when we first put it on the car at California if it was 'OK' and they said it was 'on the edge, but OK.' There hasn't been any question about the piece until now."(FoxSports)(4-17-2010)
UPDATE: The long steel pieces also were installed in an unapproved mounting location, according to the tags on the parts which were on display in the NASCAR hauler. "We'll know a lot more how NASCAR views these pans [next week]," said Michael Waltrip Racing Executive Vice President Cal Wells, whose organization builds the cars for Ambrose and Papis. "We'll have to wait and see. NASCAR likes to have parts submitted if you have got something new or different. I believe there was some confusion on what should or shouldn't be submitted. … In this particular case what we designed was a modular piece that holds a radiator, the pan up front and the duct work and a host of different things. There's no intent to do anything [around the rules]. We'll see what they decide to do."(SceneDaily)(4-19-2010)
UPDATE: NASCAR has issued penalties to the #13, #47, #00 and #56 teams that compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a result of rule violations committed at Texas Motor Speedway last week. Robert “Bootie” Barker, crew chief of the #13 team, and Frank Kerr, crew chief of the #47 team, have each been fined $75,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 20-2.3A (unapproved added weight); 20-7 (all engine cooling system components must be approved by NASCAR prior to being used in competition); and 20-7.3A (radiator mount; failure to submit components) of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule book.
Car owners Robert Germain (#13) and Tad Geschickter (#47) have each been penalized with the loss of 50 championship owner points for violating Sections 12-1 and 20-2.3A. Drivers Max Papis (#13) and Marcos Ambrose (#47) have each been penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver points for violating Sections 12-1 and 20-2.3A.
Rodney Childers, crew chief of the #00 team, and Pat Tryson, crew chief of the #56 team, have each been fined $25,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1; 20-7; and 20-7.3A. All of these violations occurred during post-qualifying inspection on April 16.(NASCAR)(4-21-2010)
MWR Statement: Executive Vice President of Michael Waltrip Racing Cal Wells: “NASCAR indicated we were running a part, a radiator pan, which had not been officially submitted for approval. We accept NASCAR’s ruling and will not appeal because we cannot debate whether the part was submitted, only whether or not the part needed submission. This gives us a clear line of sight on how parts need to be submitted for approval. We will work diligently with NASCAR in the future on all new parts to ensure this does not happen to MWR again.”(MWR)(4-21-2010)
Budweiser to MWR? Michael Waltrip Racing's Ty Norris was entertaining representatives from Budweiser this weekend at Texas. Norris has a history with Budweiser dating back to his Dale Earnhardt Inc. days when Budweiser was sponsoring the #8 Chevy. With Kasey Kahne parting ways wih Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season, it's likely that Budweiser will be entertaining offers.(FoxSports)(4-20-2010)
Truex’s Team Claims Tissot Pit Road Award in Las Vegas: The over-the-wall crew for Martin Truex Jr. won the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award in Sunday’s (Feb. 28) Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Truex’s NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, out of the Michael Waltrip Racing stable, spent the least amount of time on pit road – 207.012 seconds -- during the 267-lap, 400-mile race. Carl Edwards’ #99 Ford was second (207.769) and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Chevy was third (211.931). Truex’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Cory Quick (front-tire changer), Craig Curione (front-tire carrier), Shannon Myers (rear-tire changer), Mark Kennerly (rear-tire carrier), Brian Chase (jackman), Doug Newell (gasman) and Keith Koppenal (catch can). The team’s crew chief is Pat Tryson. The winning pit crew in each Sprint Cup race will earn $5,000 and a Tissot V8 Quartz Chronograph watch. The team with the most Tissot Pit Road Precision Award wins at the completion of the 36-race schedule will receive a $105,000 bonus plus Tissot watches for the over-the-wall crew members and driver.(Tissot)(3-3-2010)
Drivers Test at New Smyrna: Tuesday Marcos Ambrose tested his #47 Kroger NASCAR at the half-mile high-banked New Smyrna Speedway. Preparing for his second full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the Australian driver shared the track today with #13-Max Papis, #00-David Reutimann and #5-Martin Truex Jr. It's the first time Ambrose has been in a car in over two months. "I just want to dust off the cobwebs," said Ambrose.(MarcosAmbrose.com)(1-27-2010)
NASCAR To Represent Michael Waltrip Racing Licensing Business: NASCAR and Michael Waltrip Racing announced today a new partnership in which NASCAR will become the sole licensing representative for the race team. The agreement includes all driver marks within the Michael Waltrip Racing team, including David Reutimann, Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip, as well as young future stars Trevor Bayne and Ryan Truex. With this agreement, NASCAR’s licensing business, headquartered out of Charlotte, N.C. at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will utilize its assets to grow the licensed product business and provide retailers with new and more comprehensive product options for the MWR team, including track merchandise opportunities, e-commerce channels and national retail outlets. NASCAR will also provide retail development, new business, marketing, public relations and media assets in expanding the licensed product portfolio that includes apparel, collectibles, novelty, gifts, headwear and other non-traditional licensing concepts.(NASCAR)(1-14-2010)
Michael Waltrip Racing extends with Toyota: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced the extension of its partnership with Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The new agreement will keep the emerging organization with the manufacturer through the end of 2012. In 2010, MWR will field the #00 Aaron’s/Tums/Best Western Toyota full-time with driver David Reutimann, the #55 Toyota with Michael Waltrip on a limited basis and the #56 NAPA Auto Part Toyota full-time with Martin Truex Jr. Additionally, MWR signed a two-year technical alliance extension with JTG-Daugherty Racing to field the #47 Toyota with driver Marcos Ambrose. MWR receives engines from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) out of Costa Mesa, California, along with Red Bull Racing. TRD’s Salisbury, N.C., facility supports MWR’s vehicle dynamics and development, aerodynamics, tire data analysis and race strategy programs. This announcement comes on the heels of MWR announcing 100% renewal with its existing sponsors, a new relationship with TUMS as a primary and associate sponsor on the #00, a two-year extension with JTG-Daugherty Racing and a new partnership with its NASCAR Nationwide Series team with Gary and Blake Bechtel forming Diamond-Waltrip Racing to field Camrys for 18-year-old phenom Trevor Bayne.(MWR)(11-14-2009)
Mobil 1 and Toyota UPDATE: not quite sure what this is all about, have heard nor seen anything but......Mobil 1 Racing and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) U.S.A to make announcement about 2010 NASCAR season Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, scheduled to be attending the announcement are Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota; Michael Waltrip, owner of Michael Waltrip Racing and driver of the #55 NAPA Toyota; Lee White, President and General Manager, TRD; Harold Shablom, Global Motorsport Manager, ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties.(PR)(11-13-2009)
UPDATE: ExxonMobil and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) unveiled a new technological partnership in which ExxonMobil will provide its Mobil 1 racing oil technology and products to TRD- supported NASCAR teams. Kicking off at the start of the 2010 NASCAR season, TRD-supplied NASCAR engines will be filled with specially modified motor oil based on the same technology available to consumers in Mobil 1 Racing oils, which were unveiled in April. The TRD-specific motor oils will deliver outstanding power via unique low-friction synthetic lubricant technology combined with boosted levels of anti-wear additives to protect and extend the life of engine hardware. Formally announced before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the collaboration will pair Mobil 1, the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” with one of NASCAR’s top engine manufacturers. With this new partnership, ExxonMobil’s racing oil technology will now provide performance and protection for the TRD-supported Red Bull Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing NASCAR teams.(Toyota PR)(11-14-2009)
Tryson named #56 Crew Chief for 2010: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that veteran crew chief Pat Tryson will lead Martin Truex Jr. and the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry beginning in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.Tryson successfully earned his fifth Chase berth as crew chief on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway and will join MWR upon the conclusion of the season. “Pat is a passionate competitor, a winner and a championship contender,” said Waltrip. “Those were the traits we were looking for in a crew chief that would help Martin deliver on the track for NAPA for years to come. We couldn’t be more proud to add a person of Pat’s caliber to our organization.”
“Michael Waltrip Racing has really come onto the scene this year and the progress they have made over a very short time is impressive,” Tryson said. “I believe that I can contribute. MWR is doing everything they can to get the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota back into victory lane and that’s what my focus will be. Martin is a talented driver and we’ll be doing everything we can to make that happen.” Tryson joins MWR after a successful run with #2-Kurt Busch, where Tryson guided the former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion to two Chase appearances, four victories and 35 top-10 finishes since 2007 with Penske Racing. A native of Malvern, Pa., Tryson got his start in NASCAR working for Kenny Bernstein’s NASCAR Cup operation. In 1997, he launched his crew chief career by calling the shots for driver Geoff Bodine. Two seasons later, he joined Roush Racing and worked with drivers Kevin Lepage and Johnny Benson. With Kevin Lepage at the wheel, Tryson helped steer him to one pole, two top-five and five top-10 finishes. In 2000, Wood Brothers Racing hired Tryson and for nearly three seasons, he worked with drivers Elliott Sadler and Ricky Rudd. The crew chief guided Sadler to his first NASCAR Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway in March 2001. Roush Racing came calling midway through the 2003 season. This time, Tryson teamed up with driver Mark Martin to help the veteran make NASCAR’s new playoff system -- The Chase. They repeated with berths in 2005 and 2006. Tryson is only one of three crew chiefs (Robbie Reiser and Chad Knaus) who qualified for The Chase during its first three years.(MWR)(9-14-2009)
#2 Crew Chief Tryson to leave Penske UPDATE: Bob Dilner reported during SPEED's coverage of the Sprint Cup first practice at Richmond that Pat Tryson, current crew chief for #2-Kurt Busch, will leave Penske Racing and head over to crew chief Martin Truex Jr. for MIcheal Waltrip Racing #56 NAPA Toyota team (SPEED)
hearing that Gene Nead, current crew chief for #55-Michael Waltrip [team and points will go to the #56 in 2010], will stay with MWR and crew chief for Waltrip's part-time effort in 2010.(9-11-2009)
UPDATE: a partial transcript from Dodge, #2-Kurt Busch dicussing crew chief Pat Tryson:
THERE ARE REPORTS THAT YOUR CREW CHIEF PAT TRYSON IS LEAVING AT THE END OF THE YEAR. IS THERE ANY TRUTH TO THAT RUMOR? “Yeah, it’s a change that’s going to happen. It’s unfortunate that Pat (Tryson) made that type of decision. It seems like our focus should be on the Chase and making it in the Chase, so it’s a tough week for that type of news. That’s really where my focus is. No matter who I’m working with or communicating with, we have to get the Miller Lite Dodge in the Chase and get off to a great start once we do that.”
ARE YOU MAD AT PAT FOR THE TIMING OF HIS DECISION? “The timing isn’t all that good, but it never is any good when you want to change directions in life. I did that in 2005 at Roush Racing. There’s never a really a good time to bring things up, but I can’t be disappointed in Pat or upset at Pat. The way that we’ve had a great run together and the way that he turned our program around in 2007, it helped put him back on the map too so to speak. You never want to hold anybody back from their ambitions and their dreams. We have a guy in Brad Keselowski that’s coming to our program and Dale Jr. had a tough decision to make on what to do with him. And when your phrase it the way that Pat did and I’m sure the way that Keselowski did, that there are opportunities ahead and that you want to go and conquer other things, you can’t tie them down. You have to let them go and make those decisions. Pat and I had a great run together. We still have more work to do though. We want to get locked in (the Chase) tomorrow night. That’s the focus. If we go out and do business as usual, we should. He’ll be with us throughout the Chase. It’s going to be a changing target throughout the Chase, but right now Pat and I are a great combination and have a task at hand.”
DID PAT GIVE YOU ANY IDEA WHY HE WANTS A DIFFERNET OPPORTUNITY? “That’s something that I think Pat can answer or Mike Nelson from Penske Racing who can give better insight. My job is to focus on the Chase and not get into those details.”(Dodge Motorsports PR)(9-12-2009)
Truex to field car for ARCA race at Kentucky: NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Jesus Hernandez will take another step forward in his career Saturday night when he competes in the ARCA race at the Kentucky Speedway. Hernandez will compete in a car entered by his fellow worker at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex Jr. (#1 Bass Pro Chevy). Hernandez will pilot the #56 Chevrolet. The car will have support from lavendar Boutique and G.C. Pollex and Associates. Hernandez will be making his second career ARCA start, previously racing in this event in 2007, finishing an impressive sixth in his debut. The team, made up of many Sprint Cup employees moonlighting on this project, has made this a true grassroots effort. The team has worked for nearly eight months preparing this car for Saturday night’s race. Hernandez, 27, has competed this season in the Camping World East Series and has collected three top-10 finishes, including one top-five.(Breaking Limits)(7-17-2009)
Truex's car too high at Chicago UPDATE Penalties announced: The #1 Chevy driven by Martin Truex Jr. did not pass a post-race inspection when NASCAR officials discovered the right rear quarter panel was too high on the car. Truex finished 16th in the LifeLock 400 race at Chicagoland Speedway. The car will be taken back to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluations. NASCAR officials will determine if the height problem is a violation that requires a penalty. Any announcement of the process will come later this week, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. Similar height situations have resulted in championship point reductions and fines in the past.(ESPN.com)(7-12-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR announced that Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #1 Chevy in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, crew chief Kevin Manion and car owner Teresa Earnhardt have been penalized for rule violations during last weekend’s event at Chicagoland Speedway.
Truex was penalized 25 points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings. Manion was fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2009. Earnhardt was penalized 25 points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner standings. The three were penalized for violating Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); Section 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and Section 20-12.8.1C (right rear quarter panel height did not meet the required specifications; too high in post-race inspection).(NASCAR)(7-14-2009)
Ryan Truex passes Park to win again: After getting passed for the lead with less than five laps remaining, former Sprint Cup Series winner Steve Park had a message for fans concerning the driver that left him settling for a second place finish. "You guys better get his autograph tonight because he ain't going to be around here much longer," Park said of 17-year old Ryan Truex. After losing the lead to Park on a lap 95 restart, Truex rallied back on the next lap to retake the top spot from him and went on to win the Camping World East Series Pepsi Full Fender Frenzy 100 Saturday at Thompson International Speedway. It was the second victory of the season for the Truex, of Mayetta, N.J., the younger brother of Sprint Cup Series regular Martin Truex Jr. Corey LaJoie, the 17-year old son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie, finished 19th in his Camping World East debut. LaJoie was running ninth on lap 52 when he went to the pits with motor issues and retired from the event.(Hartford Courant)(7-13-2009)
Manion to MWR with Truex? UPDATE: #1-Martin Truex's current crew chief Bono Manion is expected to join Michael Waltrip Racing in the future, whether that date is after Homestead or before is likely predicated on the Chip Ganassi. Manion has worked with Truex since the May Richmond race in 2003. If Truex and Manion leave EGR prematurely, Aric Almirola, who is still under contract but has not raced since Texas due to a lack of sponsorship, could jump in the car.(FoxSports)(7-8-2009)
UPDATE: Claire B Lang interviewed Truex on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio "Dialed In":
CBL: Can you talk at all about Bono and whether you can bring Bono over to the (MWR) operation - you and Bono have been through the war.
Martin Truex Junior: "We've done a lot of good things together. We've had a lot of success together. You know I love him - he's like a brother to me. So I would love to have him over here. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I know he's good. I know he can do the job so we'll just have to see. You know obviously it's not my sole decision to make. I think that we need to figure out his situation and talk to him and see what he wants and you know make sure that he thinks this is the right deal for him and we'll sit down and have Ty(Norris) and everybody and if they are comfortable with it then I'd be all for it. I think it would make things a lot easier for me coming into a new place to have him on my side.(7-9-2009)
Truex: Too Many questions at EGR to stay: Martin Truex, who won two championships in what is now the Nationwide Series with Chance 2 Motorsports (a division of Dale Earnhardt Inc.) and then became a full-time Cup driver for DEI in 2006, said he believed the future of Michael Waltrip Racing was much more solid than that of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, the result of a merger between DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing after last season. “For me, there was a lot less in question [at MWR],” said Truex, who won one race and made the Chase with DEI in 2007. “They were able to answer more questions. It was easier to see where they were heading. The picture was just a lot more clear for me. … It’s solid."(SceneDaily)(7-8-2009)
MWR to make announcement on July 7th? UPDATE 3: Truex: On Friday Rowdy.com visited Michael Waltrip Racing [Cornelius, NC] which offers an amazing tour of the facility, including the fabricating shop. Even more interesting than the tour itself was this tidbit...someone in our group was asking how Ryan and Martin Truex Jr. (brothers) were related. Somehow this led to our tour guide telling us that Michael Waltrip Racing would be making a MAJOR announcement on July 7th.(Rowdy.com)(6-27-2009)
UPDATE: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta said no matter what happens with Martin Truex Jr., he expects Bass Pro Shops will remain with the organization for 2010. Truex, who drives for EGR, is expected to be announced as the 2010 full-time replacement for Michael Waltrip at Michael Waltrip Racing on July 7.(SceneDaily)(6-28-2009)
UPDATE 2: Martin Truex Jr. will be named on Tuesday the newest addition to Michael Waltrip Racing, multiple sources confirmed on Saturday at Daytona. A press conference including sponsor NAPA is scheduled for noon at the team's Cornelius, N.C., shop. Truex is in the final year of his contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. NAPA, the long-time sponsor of team owner Michael Waltrip, will be become his primary sponsor. Waltrip will move from a full-time to part-time schedule that will include the Daytona 500 in February. He could remain in his familiar #55 with Truex taking another number, possibly the #56.(ESPN.com)(7-5-2009)
UPDATE 3: A driving career that has spanned a quarter of a century, defined by two emotional winning performances on NASCAR's biggest stage, will be celebrated during the 2010 Daytona 500. Michael Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion, announced that he will drive a limited schedule beginning next season as he begins to focus on being one of the youngest multi-team owners in the history of NASCAR.(MWR PR)(7-7-2009)
AND: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that NAPA Auto Parts has signed a multi-year contract to continue its primary sponsorship with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization, and has named two-time Nationwide Series champion and 2007 Chase participant Martin Truex, Jr. as its driver. Starting in 2010, the car number on the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota will be the #56, a number that has been in the Truex racing family for three generations. MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip, the only full-time driver NAPA has had since joining the Sprint Cup division in 2001, will drive a limited schedule, to include the 2010 Daytona 500 driving the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota - an event in which Waltrip and NAPA have shared two memorable victories. Waltrip will retain the number 55. The owner points earned during the 2009 Sprint Cup campaign will be transferred to Truex's full-time effort.(MWR PR)(7-7-2009)
AND: Some notes from the press conference: Truex says he is committed to Earnhart Ganassi for the rest of the 2009 season; NAPA's contract extension is only described as "multi-year"; Waltrip will run a minimum of 4-5 races and as many as 10-12; Waltrip could run some races in the #66 PRISM Motorsports car, owned by Phil Parsons (who gets some assistance this year from Michael Waltrip Racing); no decisons have been made on crew swaps or crew chiefs.(7-7-2009)
Truex to MWR as of Chicago? looks doubtful: Could Martin Truex Jr. be headed to Waltrip's outfit a little sooner than next season? It seems like a pretty good possibility. One garage source said it's a likely possibility that Truex will be behind the wheel of Waltrip's #55 NAPA Toyota Camry for the Lifelock.com 400 on July 11 at Chicagoland Speedway, with Aric Almirola taking over his current seat in the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #1 Bass Pro Chevy. And while the Truex to MWR rumor has been floating in the pond for some time, another name was tossed into the rumor mill concerning the big Waltrip announcement. Could Richard Petty Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne be heading to a new third Toyota team with MWR? Sounds odd, but its being whispered.[Jayski Note: Kahne is signed with RPM thru 2010](Hartford Courant)
AND The company line at Michael Waltrip Racing is that despite the expected announcement on July 7 that Martin Truex Jr. will join the fold (hearing in the #56 Toyota), he will not drive the car until next season. And Waltrip will likely continue to run a limited 10 to 12 race schedule in the #55 car in 2010. But the consensus in the garage is that Truex could be in a MWR car as early as the Chicagoland Cup race in two weeks. A press release from NAPA announcing Waltrip's brother Darrell (also a NASCAR on FOX analyst) as an honorary pit crew member for this weekend Coke Zero 400 has only fueled the speculation that it will be Michael's last race. For now, MWR Vice President and GM Ty Norris and COO Cal Wells' say that the teams will remain status quo for 2009. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing president Steve Lauletta says he expects to have Aric Almirola back in the #8 Chevy by mid-August if sponsorship can be secured. Lauletta echoed MWR's sentiments that Truex will not be departing from the #1 Chevy before season's end.(FoxSports)(6-30-2009)
MWR Owner to broadcast from England: Even though Rob Kauffman [co-owner of MWR] will be in London, England, he will be watching closely as he makes his color commentator debut in the UK during the Sprint Cup Series Lenox Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway live on Sky Sports alongside presenter Keith Huewen and British Racing driver John Mickel, who has previously raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. “Michael Waltrip gave me some pointers being that it is my first time as a color analyst,” Kauffman said. “He said, ‘First, don’t make anything up and second try not to be boring.” Sky Sports broadcasts NASCAR Sprint Cup races across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sky Sports takes the feed via a satellite from the U.S. and supplements the coverage with their studio presentation. One night while watching the show, Kauffman emailed in to compliment Sky Sports’ coverage. The show's producer, Dawn White, then contacted Kauffman and invited him to be a part of Sunday’s show since he is co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing.(MWR)(6-27-2009)
Waltrip closer to hiring Truex? Michael Waltrip hinted Friday that he's closer to a decision on his future - and that future may involve Martin Truex Jr. Waltrip reiterated his stance that he needed to run better in order to remain the driver of the NAPA-sponsored #55 car at Michael Waltrip Racing, the race team he owns. Truex, whose contract at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing expires after this season, has been frequently tied to the possible opening in the #55. "You just have to figure that he's one of the ones that no one knows where he's going," Waltrip said. "He's been a Chase guy. He stumbled in and has run up front from the beginning, so I don't know what the future holds. But he might be one of those on that list that would be better than me." Asked if he was any closer to a decision on his future on Friday, Truex smiled. "I'd love to share it with you, but I can't," he said.(Scene Daily)(6-13-2009)
Truex Jr. discusses future contract plans: from a Team Chevy Driver Press conference transcript with #1-Martin Truex Jr.:
DOES THE FACT THAT YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RUMOR MILL ANNOY YOU? “It is what it is, there is no way to stop it. I don’t get annoyed. I think it is kind of comical sometimes. But we all understand that you all are trying to get the story and you want to get it before the next guy. It is no different than us wanting to beat the next guy. We understand all that. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put all of it to an end shortly.”
HOW SOON? “Within a few weeks, I would say.”
DAVID REUTIMANN SAID EARLIER TODAY THAT THE BEST REASON FOR A DRIVER TO CONSIDER COMING TO MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING WAS THAT HE WAS THERE, BEING SERIOUS, IS THERE SOMETHING THERE TO ATTRACT A DRIVER? “That is a good answer (laughs). He did win last week. They seem like a great organization. They have come a long way. I think they have a lot going for them. We will just have to see what happens.”
DO YOU HAVE A GUT FEELING ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE GOING? “Yes, but I ain’t going to tell you though. I am just not going to tell you anything. The picture is pretty clear for me right now. I am in a good place. I am pretty happy with the way things have gone and I have been having fun at the race track and things are going well right now. I think in the next few weeks, everybody will know what is going on. I have just been concentrating on racing because I the picture is kind of clear so I am not really worried too much about it too much.”
DOES YOUR BROTHER BEING AT WALTRIP HAVE ANY IMPACT ON YOUR DECISION? “Well I think with my brother being there has a big impact. I have more of an insight on how they do things which has been good.”
SO IS YOUR NEXT MOVE GOING TO BE MORE LONG-TERM SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS AGAIN ANY TIME SOON? “Yeah, this time around it’s going to have to be.”
WILLYOUR SPONSOR FOLLOW YOU? “I don’t know. That’s something we’ll have to look at down the road once we figure everything out. We’ll see.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE SPONSORS THAT IDENTIFY WITH YOU? “I think it’s very important. Obviously you want to be yourself and you want to be true to your fans and real. When you go out and sell something you don’t want to just say hey use this because I do. When you’re promoting somebody’s product you want to be sincere about it. At least I have. That’s why Bass Pro has been such a great fit for me. It’s a no brainer. It would be easy for me to go to their stores and meet their customer because I’m a customer of theirs and I have been. I think it’s important to do that with your fans. To promote the sponsor and put 100 percent into it you need to be connected.”(Chevy Racing)(5-30-2009)
Truex Jr. to Waltrip? The word on the street is that #1-Martin Truex to Michael Waltrip's team in 2010 is a 'done deal,' but Truex and Ty Norris, the general manager for Waltrip's operation, both insist their 2010 deals are still up in the air, for at least another three weeks. "We've been hearing the same things," Norris concedes. "But we're still in discussions with NAPA and trying to figure out things (sponsorship) for 2010 and beyond. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made before we can even pursue something or get anything done. The biggest issue right now is we're in negotiations right now with NAPA and Michael, to see what the future looks like. We met a week ago and decided to give ourselves three or four more weeks, and then we'll make some decisions. So we're three or four weeks away from making the decision about what Michael and NAPA are going to do. Only after we make that decision can we look at the second decision." All that would seem to imply that Waltrip himself has to make a good case for sponsorship-driver renewal with NAPA between now and the July Fourth 400 at Daytona.(mikemulhern.net)(5-24-2009)
2010 Michael Waltrip Racing Fan Appreciation Day: Michael Waltrip Racing is scheduled to hold its annual Fan Appreciation Day on Wednesday May 26 at NASCAR’s most interactive race shop in Cornelius, N.C. MWR drivers David Reutimann, Martin Truex Jr. and JTG Daugherty driver Marcos Ambrose plus Nationwide drivers Trevor Bayne and Ryan Truex will join co-owner Michael Waltrip to sign autographs. There are a variety of activities scheduled including show car displays, pit stop practices, games, musical entertainment and food from Mac’s Speed Shop. More info at michaelwaltrip.com.(5-4-2010)
Mikey undecided about future plans: #55-Michael Waltrip says it is too early to decide if he will retire at the end of this season or return in 2010. Waltrip has not won a race since 2003 and enters Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. He could retire and devote his full energy to running Michael Waltrip Racing, which also fields entries for #00-David Reutimann and #47-Marcos Ambrose. Waltrip opened the season with a seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500, but has finished 24th or worse in five other Cup races. Waltrip said on Saturday that he still wants to race, believes he can win again in the #55 and wants to win a championship for his longtime sponsor (NAPA).(Associated Press)(4-25-2009)
Ryan Truex Pairs with MWR: At 17 years of age, Ryan Truex has a career action plan and one of his long-term career goals includes following his NASCAR NNS champion brother Martin Truex Jr. to the Sprint Cup Series level. Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced a partnership that will field a full-time NASCAR Camping World East program for the young Truex as he takes the next step towards fulfilling that lifelong dream. The season-opener is this weekend at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Last season, Truex finished 11th at Stafford Speedway in his CW East debut and only career start while driving a car prepared by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Now, he is ready for his first race with Michael Waltrip Racing. Truex started four years ago racing a Bandolero at Wall Township Speedway in Wall, New Jersey that has been hosting racing event for 54 years. He graduated to Legends and quickly won a speedway championship at the track in 2007. Last season, Truex raced a family-owned Late Model at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.(MWR PR)(4-9-2009)
- First Diversity Apprentice named for MWR:: Toyota and Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that Josh Ray is the diversity apprentice selected from Toyota’s Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) alumni program. American Indian descendant and Oklahoma-native Ray will relocate to North Carolina to begin a one- year, technical position within the MWR organization, directly involved with the teams’ NASCAR participation beginning on Monday, November 10, 2008. The three-part position will include rotations with Michael Waltrip Racing’s tear down area, electronics department and also in the suspension department. After reviewing many applications from previous T-TEN graduates, Ray was chosen by the selection committee as one of three finalists to advance to the next round, which consisted of interviews with the Michael Waltrip Racing organization. Once the interviews were concluded and the final candidates were evaluated, Ray was awarded the opportunity of a lifetime – a one year apprenticeship with one of the most popular teams in NASCAR.(Toyota PR)(11-7-2008)
- MWR names new Technical Director: Nick Hughes has been named technical director at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR).
"I am looking forward to the challenge of combining the skills of our engineering group with the experience and knowledge of our teams and other departments in order to continue increasing the performance and competitiveness of our cars,” Hughes said. Hughes replaces Dr. Eric Warren who recently departed MWR to pursue new opportunities in the Sprint Cup Series. "Michael Waltrip personally asked me to help get the team on its feet and Andy Graves from TRD was instrumental in me coming to MWR," said Dr. Warren, who won 13 Cup races while at Gillette-Evernham Motorsports before joining MWR in September 2007. "I feel like we were successful over the course of the year. I’m looking forward to a new opportunity at the pinnacle of our sport and wish the team continued success."
"I want to thank Eric for all he’s done for Michael Waltrip Racing," Calvin Wells III stated. "He helped build a strong foundation for MWR’s teams during his tenure. We wish him success in his endeavors. We also are pleased to announce Nick Hughes as technical director and congratulate him on his new position."(MWR PR)(10-28-2008)
- Waltrip Set to Make 1,000th Career NASCAR Start at Atlanta: #55-Michael Waltrip will make his 1,000th NASCAR start at Atlanta Motor Speedway when he starts the #55 NAPA Toyota for the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday, Oct. 26. After finishing 18th in Martinsville in his 999th-combined NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series start, Waltrip returns to Atlanta for number 1,000, where he has eight career top-10 finishes.
Stats: After Atlanta Waltrip will have 722 Cup starts [4 wins], 270 Nationwide starts [11 wins] and 8 Truck Series starts [0 wins]. Check out a full story on Waltrip’s career at NASCAR.com and more at MichaelWaltrip.com.(10-23-2008)
- #00 team could go away in 2009, McDowell not picked up: Michael Waltrip Racing will field cars for #55-Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann [#44 in 2008 supposedly will use the #00 in 2009 with #44 owners points] and then partner with JTG Daugherty Racing to field the car for Marcos Ambrose [#47] in the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. The fate of the #00 MWR team is still to be determined. Running that car would depend on sponsorship, MWR Executive Vice President Cal Wells said Saturday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “Our plan right now is two plus one [of JTG Daugherty], and we’re working on some other opportunities for next year,” Wells said. “We’re all in to make those three cars race-winning contenders every week. We’re not going to spread our resources unless we can really find the right kind of deal. We did this year, but next year we’re going to make sure that we’re [sponsored].” The team currently fields three cars, including one that has primarily been driven by Michael McDowell. But McDowell hasn’t driven the last two weeks. AJ Allmendinger drove the car Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Wells said he considers him a candidate for a full-time ride if sponsorship is found for the fourth car. McDowell didn’t seem very optimistic about returning to MWR when talking Saturday. “They didn’t exercise the option on me,” McDowell said. “I know it’s due to not having funding, but being out these few races here, I’m not really sure where that’s driven from. I don’t know if I’m racing next week. Hopefully I’ll be in at Martinsville or in at some races before the end of the year. But in the meantime, they’re working hard on sponsorship and I’m working hard on trying to stay in the garage.” Wells said there is a plan for the rest of the year that includes McDowell and wouldn’t say who would drive next week at Martinsville. He said the situation is “fluid,” but did say that J.J. Yeley, rumored to have been driving the car, will not be driving it.
“I just want to race – I don’t care if it’s a truck, Nationwide or a Cup car,” McDowell said. “I’m ready for any of the above. You’re not going to be extremely picky, choosy at this point. I need a job.” Wells said he was unsure exactly will happen with the points and which cars’ points the JTG Daugherty team will get.(SceneDaily)(10-15-2008)
- Waltrip now 10th: on Sunday, #55-Michael Waltrip broke a tie for 10th place in all time starts with 719. Just behind Waltrip is Bobby Allison and Mark Martin at 718. In 9th is Ken Schrader at 727 and Richard Petty is the driver with the most starts at 1184.(10-5-2008)
- Ambrose/JTG Racing to MWR in 2009? UPDATE 3: hearing that Marcos Ambrose and Little Debbie's could be moving to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2009 and Ambrose would not run in the Cup Series for JTG Racing.(9-22-2008)
UPDATE: JTG Daugherty Racing hasn't named a manufacturer for next season when it moves full time to the Sprint Cup Series from the Nationwide Series but the team was working out of a Michael Waltrip Racing hauler on Saturday at Kansas Speedway. JTG Daugherty, which qualified on speed for Sunday's Cup race with driver #47-Marcos Ambrose, had a hauler fire in June that destroyed one of its transporters. The team got some help from Richard Childress Racing when it qualified for the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late July. But could the team working out of a MWR hauler at Kansas be a sign of a potential affiliation and a move to Toyota? JTG Daugherty currently fields Fords. "Obviously we have a really good relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing," Geschickter said. "At this point, we're not ready to announce anything. But we know them better than most in the fact that we were able to go straight over there and borrow some equipment."(SceneDaily.com)(9-28-2008)
UPDATE 2: JTG Daugherty Racing has signed what team co-owner Brad Daugherty called a "technical alliance" with Michael Waltrip Racing, and thus will field Toyota Camrys full-time in the Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2009. The deal will be announced formally Wednesday afternoon. Under the agreement, JTG/Daugherty receives the same chassis, engines and technological information-sharing that Waltrip gets through Toyota Racing Development. "This way we don't come out of the box already behind," said Daugherty, reached by phone Wednesday. "Actually, this puts us about two years ahead of where we would have been otherwise."
Daugherty, an ESPN NASCAR analyst, said the alliance includes the #47 team being housed under the MWR roof. Daugherty stressed there was still independence from MWR, however, saying it is not a merger and that the #47 is not a fourth Waltrip team.
"We'll work with Toyota Racing Development out of Costa Mesa [Calif.], and all their parts and pieces already flow through MWR," Daugherty said. "It just makes sense for us to be in-house over [at MWR]." Marcos Ambrose will drive the #47 Toyota, with sponsorship from Little Debbie Snack Cakes and Clorox.(ESPN.com)(10-1-2008)
UPDATE 3: JTG-Daugherty Racing announced it has chosen to field Toyotas during its inaugural Sprint Cup campaign in 2009, after forming a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) and Toyota Racing Development (TRD). JTG-Daugherty, co-owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter and former NBA All-Star and current ESPN broadcaster Brad Daugherty, will enter the #47 Toyota sponsored by primary sponsors, Kingsford Charcoal, Clorox Laundry and Household Products, and Little Debbie’s Snack Cakes. JTG-Daugherty will move its Sprint Cup operation into MWR’s 140,000-square foot facility in Cornelius, NC, and receive cars, engineering, mechanical and other technical support from MWR’s existing infrastructure. TRD will support the JTG-Daugherty team with engines from its Costa Mesa, California, facility, and vehicle engineering support from its Salisbury, N.C., facility. Frank Kerr has been named crew chief of the #47 car. Marcos Ambrose, a former Australian V-8 Supercar Champion, has been named driver of the #47 Sprint Cup entry.
Michael Waltrip commented, “The alliance with Tad, Jodi and Brad happened because MWR has shown over the past few months that we can field a competitive product. This allows MWR to maintain the economies of scale we currently enjoy as a three-car team. We continue to invest in our development and this alliance helps keep the momentum we’ve gained in our fabrication and engineering departments this summer. We wanted to help Tad and Brad in their transition into NASCAR Sprint Cup ownership. If anyone can identify the hidden demons of a start-up team it is me. Having JTG-Daugherty operating in our shop helps our NAPA Toyota and our Aaron’s Toyota with David Reutimann. So this is one of the classic examples of win-win-win for everyone involved, most importantly JTG-Daugherty and MWR employees". This alliance does not change MWR’s desire to run a fourth car in 2009. “This doesn’t change anything from our original plans as our sales team is working hard on securing sponsorship for another MWR Cup entry. And those plans currently include [Michael] McDowell. That’s the same position we were in before the JTG-Daugherty alliance was formed.”(JTG/MWR PRs)(10-3-2008)
- Bootie Barker to join MWR in 2009: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that NASCAR veteran Robert "Bootie" Barker will be the crew chief of the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota driven by two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. Bobby Kennedy, who has worked with Waltrip in multiple roles for over a decade, is moving into a crucial management position at MWR. "Our organization continues to grow and add depth in several key areas," Waltrip said. "Bringing Bootie on as my crew chief is part of a larger plan that enables Bobby Kennedy to move into a critical management position. We have discussed this move since the summer, but waited until we were able to hire a crew chief of Bootie's caliber and we're really glad to have him join MWR."
Barker, who graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in mechanical engineering, is a native of Halifax, Va., and has been a regular in the NASCAR garage for 12 years. His experience spans across all three major divisions of NASCAR. He got his start in 1996 building shocks for Kurt Roehrig’s Truck Series team and after honing his skills, Barker advanced to the Sprint Cup Series to work for such teams as Bill Davis Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. While at Hendrick, Barker visited Victory Lane five times with NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon and the #24 team as a shock specialist.
In 2000, Barker got his first chance at calling the shots for driver Scott Wimmer in the Nationwide Series. He went on to win four races in the 2002 season. For the past five seasons, Barker has built one of the best reputations in the Sprint Cup ranks as the crew chief for drivers including Dave Blaney, Jason Leffler, Mike Bliss, Jeff Green and Scott Riggs.
Barker’s first Sprint Cup Series opportunity occurred when he moved to Jasper Motorsports in 2003 to work with Blaney. Near the end of the year, Barker joined Haas CNC Racing to help develop their Nationwide Series program. During the 2004 season, Barker led the team to its first Nationwide Series victory with Leffler at Nashville Superspeedway. At end of the season, Barker advanced to lead Haas CNC Racing’s Cup Series team with driver Bliss. While at Haas, Barker also worked with Green and more recently Riggs. Barker’s best finish this season with Riggs is a fourth-place effort at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Now, Barker is geared up and ready to lead the NAPA AUTO PARTS team to Victory Lane with his new owner and driver, Waltrip.
"I really appreciate the confidence that Michael has in me," Barker said. "He has accomplished a lot in his racing career and the fact that he wanted me to be his crew chief goes a long way for me personally. Everyone I met from the crew chiefs to the management team are very welcoming and they are all racers. I’m looking forward to being able to help the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry team achieve their short-term and long-term goals."(MWR PR)(10-1-2008)
- MWR could add a 4th team, Ambrose? Dow?: UPDATE: While many teams continue to search for sponsorship for the 2009 Sprint Cup season and beyond, one team that seems confident about sponsorship is Michael Waltrip Racing. MWR Executive Vice President Cal Wells said Saturday that he believes the team has enough sponsorship for two cars and three-quarters of another. He said he could envision the team running a fourth car part time in 2009. “I believe we’re in really good shape,” Wells said. “I’m hoping we’re actually going to run a fourth car. I don’t know that we can get it off, but we have so much in the pipeline.” As far as who would be teammates with already signed #55-Michael Waltrip and #44[will be #00 in 2009]-David Reutimann, Wells said the team hopes to re-sign Michael McDowell, who has run most of the season in a third car for MWR. “We’re selling hard around McDowell,” Wells said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff we’re working on. I honestly don’t know. There’s some [more] talent out there.” Wells also dismissed the idea that MWR would merge with another team [Like the Ganassi rumor]. “We’re looking at doing some service providing stuff with some folks that are trying to come in, kind of like the Hall of Fame [Racing] deals [with Joe Gibbs Racing],” Wells said. “We’re not to the point of announcing anything yet, but we’re looking for business. We’re not looking at [merging].”(SceneDaily.com)
AND: hearing that Marcos Ambrose and Little Debbie's could be moving to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2009 and Ambrose would not run in the Cup Series for JTG Racing.
AND II: also hearing that the other primary sponsor for Reutimann in the #00 Toyota in 2009 will be Dow Chemical Company.(9-22-2008)
UPDATE: JTG Daugherty Racing hasn't named a manufacturer for next season when it moves full time to the Sprint Cup Series from the Nationwide Series but the team was working out of a Michael Waltrip Racing hauler on Saturday at Kansas Speedway. JTG Daugherty, which qualified on speed for Sunday's Cup race with driver #47-Marcos Ambrose, had a hauler fire in June that destroyed one of its transporters. The team got some help from Richard Childress Racing when it qualified for the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late July. But could the team working out of a MWR hauler at Kansas be a sign of a potential affiliation and a move to Toyota? JTG Daugherty currently fields Fords. "Obviously we have a really good relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing," Geschickter said. "At this point, we're not ready to announce anything. But we know them better than most in the fact that we were able to go straight over there and borrow some equipment."(SceneDaily.com)(9-28-2008)
- F1 McLaren boss heads to NASCAR UPDATE 2: Steve Hallam, McLaren's head of race operations, is to leave the team at the end of this year to move to NASCAR. Hallam joined McLaren in 1990 after almost a decade at Lotus, where he race engineered for Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. Having helped engineer Mika Hakkinen to world title success with McLaren in 1998 and 1999, Hallam moved to a more senior role within the team's race engineering department. McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh has paid tribute to Hallam's contribution to the team. "Since joining us in 1990, Steve has become a senior member of our track operations team, doing a fantastic job," explained Whitmarsh. "He informed us of his decision to leave some time ago but, since he is totally professional, it goes without saying that we are entirely comfortable with his continuing his work with us until the end of the season. Next year we will all miss him greatly, but we nonetheless wish him all the very best in his new adventure." Hallam is to take up a senior position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.(Autosport)(9-13-2008)
UPDATE: Another big name in Formula One is jumping ship and will be coming to the Sprint Cup series in 2009. While Steve Hallam is a name virtually unknown, in the United States, he’s considered the one of the leading engineers in that world-wide circuit and he’ll be joining Michael Waltrip Racing according to a highly-placed source at MWR who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Hallam, currently head of McLaren Mercedes Race Operations, engineered World Champions such as Brazil’s Ayrton Senna, Britain’s’ Nigel Mansell, and Mika Hakkinen of Finland. He leaves a huge operation with an annual racing budget, reportedly, in excess of $400 million the largest budget in the series for the two-car team. Hallam’s exact position is not defined as yet, according to the same source. Eric Warren will continue as vice president and technical director. An official announcement is expected by the end of the week.(Franckly Spreaking)(9-19-2008)
UPDATE 2: One of the most decorated engineers in Formula One over the past three decades will join Michael Waltrip Racing this winter as Director of Race Engineering for the second-year Toyota team. Steve Hallam, a 56-year-old Englishman, will leave his post as Head of Race Operations for McLaren Racing and join MWR's NASCAR Sprint Cup operation following the conclusion of the Formula One season. Hallam has established himself as a respected engineer and manager of the past 27 years in Formula One, participating in 430 Grand Prix, winning five World Championships while working for only two teams: Team Lotus and McLaren Racing. "Steve is a remarkable asset for any organization and I'm proud that he is joining ours," said MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip. "He will be in a key position that will both allow him to learn about the NASCAR world while implementing the knowledge he has gained over the past 30 years in Formula One. This is another step that shows our employees, sponsors and all of NASCAR that MWR is serious about our desire to elevate our organization to an elite status in the Sprint Cup garage. Steve will galvanize the relationship between MWR and Toyota and ensure all of the tools available will be utilized properly. I'm ecstatic as an owner but maybe more so as a driver because I know I will feel the benefits of his work."(MWR PR)(9-21-2008)
- Ganassi-Waltrip merger? UPDATE: Car owner Chip Ganassi pulled the plug on Franchitti's team a month ago, in a shocker that left 71 people without jobs. That move by Ganassi has led to intense speculation about Ganassi's NASCAR future. Some of that speculation includes the possibility of some merger between Ganassi and the Michael Waltrip operation, which is also struggling and may be down to one sponsor next season for that three-car operation.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-26-2008)
UPDATE: The hottest rumor floating around the Cup garage this weekend [at New Hampshire] is that Chip Ganassi still is trying to make a deal with another team to keep himself in NASCAR. This week it was supposedly an arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing, which would expand to four cars and put Montoya in a Toyota.(Yahoo Sports)(9-15-2008)
- MWR has some prospective sponsors for 2009: Ty Norris, vice president and general manager of Michael Waltrip Racing, said three prospective sponsors for next season -- two new to the sport, one old, according to Norris -- are taking notice that MWR's three teams have been running better lately. Heading into Sunday's Sylvania 300 at NHMS, the #44 piloted by David Reutimann [has Aaron's for 18 races in 2009, will move back to the #00] ranks 27th in owner points, MIchael Waltrip's #55 Toyota [set with NAPA as his sponsor in 2009] ranks 32nd, and the #00 [no sponsor for 2009, no word on driver] currently being driven by rookie Michael McDowell is 35th. With UPS and its considerable dollars headed elsewhere [#6-David Ragan], MWR needs to find new money to fill the gap if it's going to field three teams again next season. Waltrip is set with NAPA signed on as the primary sponsor of his car next year, but Reutimann has only half of next season currently covered by Aaron's, which hopes to serve as a co-primary with another sponsor. Norris said he has no timetable for the aforementioned three prospective MWR sponsors, and admitted that fielding a third team for next season, which is the current plan, may hinge on what happens. "A lot of our current sponsors are re-signing. And we have at least three very, very solid opportunities that would, one, shore up the second half of the Reutimann car and, two, create a primary opportunity for McDowell," Norris said. "Time will tell, but at least those things are in the funnel, so to speak.(in part from NASCAR.com)(9-14-2008)
- Capps tests new Concord track surface, Waltrip the wall: As North Carolina residents, fans, NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competitors and officials prepared for this weekend's inaugural NHRA Carolina Nationals at the all-new zMax Dragway, drag racer Ron Capps was challenged by NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip to a duel on the very same dragway. Waltrip issued the challenge to his fellow NAPA Auto Parts racing partner to race down the quarter-mile at Bruton Smith's stunning facility to continue the pair's on-air rivalry and banter promoted in NAPA Auto Parts' clever ad campaign using the two racers with disparate racing backgrounds. Arriving with his fully race-functional NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Waltrip faced Capps driving an NHRA Super Comp dragster, owned by Charlotte's Tisha Wilson, in the pair's first head-to-head match-up on a racing surface. It was a heady experience for both, as neither had been down the new dragstrip touted as the "Bellagio" of drag racing. For Capps, because it was an all-new venue; for Waltrip because it's doubtful that he had ever been down a state-of-the-art dragstrip in a powerful car in his lifetime.
The track was clearly green as both drivers struggled to gain traction after launching following their burnouts. As the pair tore down the track, Waltrip's mount experienced some problems at the finish line, resulting in, surprisingly, his hitting the wall and damaging the front of the car. Although Waltrip may have been ahead, it turned into a very-loosely based case of the "Tortoise and the Hare," as Capps took the victory for all the non-existing laurels in his 500-hp dragster over Waltrip's Cup car pulled by 800 horses. The numbers: 9.85/115.14 for Capps, versus 11.21/79.38 for Waltrip. Waltrip's NAPA crew quickly repaired the Toyota, and Capps was invited to drive it down the quarter-mile. He did so, in fine fashion, posting a run of 10.6 seconds at 140 mph. The action was taped for a "NASCAR Now" show on ESPN2 and will be shared by the same network during the weekend's NHRA race coverage.(NHRA.com)(9-12-2008)
- MWR announcement: on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Michael Waltrip Racing is scheduled to make an announcement. Hearing it will concern news about David Reutimann's 2009 plans, sponsors etc.(8-19-2008)
- NAPA back with Mikey UPDATE: hearing there will be an announcement this afternoon at Watkins Glen that NAPA Auto Parts will re-up with Michael Waltrip Racing to be the sponsor for the #55 car tht Michael Waltrip drives in the Sprint Cup Series.(8-8-2008)
UPDATE: NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing announced today the extension of one of the longest sponsor/driver relationships in NASCAR history. Michael Waltrip will carry the blue and gold colors of NAPA AUTO PARTS for the ninth-consecutive season starting at the 2009 Daytona 500. It marks one of the longest running relationships in Sprint Cup Series competition. "I have celebrated my greatest racing moments wearing NAPA colors and we have enjoyed some wonderful on-track and commercial success," said Waltrip, the driver of the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. "Both of my Daytona 500 wins were with NAPA. The launch of my own race team was with NAPA. We have been together so long. It's hard to think of one without the other."
"Michael Waltrip is a terrific spokesman and brand ambassador for NAPA," said Bob Susor, president of NAPA AUTO PARTS. "In fact, our research indicates that Michael Waltrip and NAPA AUTO PARTS have become synonymous to many race fans. The bond we have forged has helped us sell a lot of auto parts through the years and we are pleased to have Michael represent us again in 2009."
Waltrip won the 2001 Daytona 500 in his first Sprint Cup race with NAPA. In total, Waltrip has put NAPA in victory lane six times [2 Gatorade Duels races and 4 Cup points wins] and has posted 21 top-five and 43 top-10 finishes along with scoring two pole positions. In 2007, Waltrip launched his own team as part of Toyota's inaugural season in Sprint Cup competition and currently fields three Cup teams and one Nationwide Series team.(NAPA/MWR PR)(8-8-2008)
- MWR Softball Champs: Michael Waltrip Racing has won their 3rd consecutive Championship in Bob Hubner's Totally Racin' Softball League. It wasn't easy for MWR, they had to win 2 tournament games in a row against Roush-Fenway Racing. Other teams competed were - Chip Ganassi Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Red Bull, Michael Waltrip 2, Stock Car Steel, Haas CNC Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing.(PR)(8-2-2008)
- Ganassi-Waltrip merger? Car owner Chip Ganassi pulled the plug on Franchitti's team a month ago, in a shocker that left 71 people without jobs. That move by Ganassi has led to intense speculation about Ganassi's NASCAR future. Some of that speculation includes the possibility of some merger between Ganassi and the Michael Waltrip operation, which is also struggling and may be down to one sponsor next season for that three-car operation.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-26-2008)
- Testing at Milwaukee: Michael McDowell and Josh Wise are testing Monday at the Milwaukke Mile for Michael Waltrip Racing. Grandstands are open, free to public to watch from the grandstands, enter at Gate 8.(Milwaukee Mile PR)(7-14-2008)
- Breakfast between team owners...mean anything? It was probably just an innocent breakfast. Then again ...On the morning of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, there was an eye-catching breakfast gathering at Doc Bales' restaurant in the Hilton Ocean Walk hotel. The group at a large table, front and center, included Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, owners of the NASCAR organization that bears both their names, along with Michael Waltrip Racing executive vice president Cal Wells and Michael Waltrip's partner and money man, Rob Kauffman. "Rob Kauffman said he wanted to meet Chip and me," Sabates said matter-of-factly at the Speedway later that afternoon.
Perhaps we should consider the backdrop. Ganassi recently shuttered his #40 Dodge Cup team, leaving open-wheel star Dario Franchitti to ponder his future in the sport. That left Ganassi with two active Cup teams and roughly 70 fewer employees, with more layoffs reportedly in the offing. There have been layoffs and a realignment of personnel at MWR. To Kauffman, that's a natural process for a team that raced for the first time in 2007. The issue of sponsorship is fundamental. UPS will leave Waltrip at the end of this season, likely finding a new home with Clint Bowyer at Richard Childress Racing, now that Bowyer has extended his contract with RCR. That leaves Waltrip with NAPA on his #55 car and Aaron's as part-time sponsor of Michael McDowell's #00. If additional sponsorship isn't forthcoming, Waltrip will have funding for two cars, the same number Ganassi now has.
Would it be too far-fetched to speculate that Waltrip and Ganassi might benefit by joining forces in some way, each bringing two teams to the table? Asked whether he might find a deal with Ganassi intriguing under the right circumstances, Kauffman deflected the question. "That's a highly speculative, theoretical thing," he said. "We just wanted to have breakfast with Felix and Chip, more than anything. We have a lot of common friends down in the North Carolina area. ... I think getting MWR on the right track and solidifying our position on the grid and improving our performance -- that's job one, two and three." Kauffman asked rhetorically whether the group would have met openly if they were talking about a deal. Probably not.(in part from the Sporting News)
NOTES: heard from one source the 'meeting' was nothing more then discussion over selling personal items and another source saying there is somethign to this and Ganassi and Waltrip could merge and become a four car team in 2009, no word if they would become a Dodge team [Ganassi] or a Toyota team [Waltrip]. Currently with five teams in the top-35 of ownes points, one could be sold off for points. Other rumored mergers include: Red Bull Racing and Ganassi Racing; Bill Davis Racing and Red Bull Racing.(7-10-2008)
- Waltrip Expresses his Gratitude for the Bahre Family at New Hampshire: When Michael Waltrip reminisces about people who have had a positive impact on his career, Dick Bahre and his family are at the top of his list. Thanks to Bahre taking a chance on a 22-year-old originally from Owensboro, Kentucky in 1985, Waltrip made his Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) debut and over the years became an accomplished driver, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and an owner himself. To show his appreciation, Waltrip will run a special decal on two Michael Waltrip Racing cars at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 this weekend in honor of the Bahre family. "We want to say thanks to the Bahre family and show our gratitude by placing decals on Michael McDowell's #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota and the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota," Waltrip said.(MWR PR)(6-26-2008)
- NAPA doubles up at Infineon: NAPA (National Automotive Parts Association) takes pride in team effort, expectations and results and so does Michael Waltrip and his #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry team. On Sunday at Infineon Raceway, Waltrip will have fans seeing double with Michael McDowell carrying the NAPA shield on his #00 Toyota Camry as a sign of gratitude for NAPA's continued support. "We are taking Michael McDowell to Infineon Raceway in a NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry because it is a chance to say thanks to NAPA and all the fine people who represent them," Waltrip said.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(6-17-2008)
- MWR in trouble? UPDATE2 denied again: been hearing that there might be trouble over at Michael Waltrip Racing. It seems that they are laying people off, telling them that it is because of financial issues. The team currently fields three Sprint Cup cars, the #00, the #44 and the #55, and one Nationwide Series car, the #99. This year Waltrip brought on a partner, Robert Kauffman, after suffering huge losses on renovations for his Cornelius, NC race shop and a bad 2007 season. Primary sponsor UPS is also pulling out of the team at the end of this season.(NASCAR Insiders, a site that claims to be two NASCAR insiders, including a crew member and journalist, see a follow up on this there also: The MWR Discussion Continues…)(6-9-2008)
UPDATE: from a Michael Waltrip Racing PR - There is a rumor that reports MWR has fallen on tough times and may go away. Is that true? Waltrip says, "I fancy myself as being a friend to one of the Web sites that is reporting that. But I have to say that the rumor is probably one of the most ridiculous things I have read on the internet. We are probably on as good of footing financially as anyone in the garage area. We are focused on the future. When you are a new team, a lot of times there is turnover. There is reorganization. That is what is going on at MWR and will continue to happen until we hit our stride. We are not in any peril as being reported. We are very into what we are doing and what we need to do to be successful."(MWR PR)(6-10-2008)
UPDATE2: "In response to the baseless comments posted on an anonymous web site this week, I want to be clear that categorizing Michael Waltrip Racing as anything other than growing would be incorrect," said Calvin Wells III, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Michael Waltrip Racing. "The partnership formed between Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman last October has allowed MWR to meet our short-term objectives while setting the course for our long-term success. MWR is financially sound but fiscally responsible, as all race team owners should be. We have made some recent moves to re-allocate our funds towards areas which will maintain long-term success for MWR, including significant capital investments in equipment, continued expansion of our engineering staff, a more concentrated effort with our test team and the expansion of our Sales/Marketing division with the recent hiring of a Chief Marketing Officer, while broadening our alliances with Toyota Racing Development and other technology partners. In only our second year, MWR maintains a growth pattern towards success and continues to be a destination point for fans, employees, drivers and sponsors,
just as Michael Waltrip believed it would be when he embarked on this life-long dream two years ago."(Michael Waltrip Racing)(6-11-2008)
- Toyota & MWR team up for diversity apprenticeship: Toyota Motor Sales and Michael Waltrip Racing have joined forces to offer a one year apprenticeship to a deserving diversity graduate of Toyota’s Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) program. The selected diversity candidate will be relocated to North Carolina and placed in a technical position within the MWR organization, directly involved with the teams’ NASCAR participation. The candidate will have a strong technical background and will be assigned to a specific department within the MWR race shop, depending on the winner’s skill set. The application process, including pre-screening and final candidate selections will be administered by Educational Testing Service’s Scholarship & Recognition Programs (SRP) beginning immediately.(MWR PR) More info on my Driver Development News page.(5-23-2008)
- Waltrip to make 700th career start: #55-Michael Waltrip will be competing in his 700th Sprint Cup race when the 11th event of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, the Dodge Challenger 500, gets underway at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C. He is currently tied with Buddy Baker for 13th on the all-time starts list.(MWR)(5-7-2008)
- No additional penalties for Hamlin, Waltrip: #11-Denny Hamlin won't be further penalized for intentionally bringing out a late caution in Saturday night's race at Richmond even though there is precedent for it. No further penalty also is expected against #55-Michael Waltrip for intentionally wrecking #5-Casey Mears, NASCAR officials said on Monday. Hamlin was given a two-lap penalty when he stopped on the track with a cut tire with less than 10 laps remaining. NASCAR officials believed it was an intentional move to bring out the caution and allow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch the opportunity to close on then-leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. A spokesperson for the governing body said during Monday's test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway that there would be no further punishment. But in 2004, Earnhardt was docked 25 points and fined $10,000 for intentionally bringing out the caution at Bristol. In the 2002 running of the All-Star race, Kurt Busch was fined $10,000 for intentionally spinning out Robby Gordon to bring out a caution. Meanwhile, Waltrip was parked with about 40 laps remaining when he intentionally took out Mears after Mears got into him a few laps earlier. Officials said the hit Waltrip took in points -- he finished 37th and fell a spot to 32nd in points -- was severe enough.(ESPN.com)(5-6-2008)
- MWR Adds Chief Marketing Officer to Executive Staff: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) expanded the depth of its executive staff today, announcing the hiring of Terry Bassett as Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer as part of the young company's organizational growth. Bassett, with over 20 years of sports marketing experience, will oversee the sales, marketing, media relations, licensing and sponsor service divisions for MWR, entering its 15th month competing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup level. Bassett
comes to MWR after a two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins and previously worked for International Speedway Corp and Penske Motorsports, Inc. Several executive additions have solidified MWR since company founder Michael Waltrip formed an equal ownership partnership with Rob Kauffman in October of 2007. Calvin Wells III serves as the company's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, with Larry Johns serving as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Dr. Eric Warren as Vice President and Technical Director and Ty Norris as Vice President and General Manager.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(5-1-2008)
- Andrews leaves MWR? hearing former crew chief Paul Andrews has parted ways with Michael Waltrip Racing. Andrews had been the crew chief of the #55 NAPA Toyota of Michael Waltrip until March then took on the role as a manager at MWR.(4-29-2008)
- MWR had [Roush] part, says it was a mistake UPDATE: Michael Waltrip confirmed Friday afternoon that it was his team that Jack Roush was alluding to when saying a Toyota team had stolen a sway bar from Roush Fenway Racing at Dover last September. “It was a mistake,” Waltrip said. “Look at the back of these toolboxes. There are sway bars, there’s jack handles, and it wound up in our possession. We called them and said, ‘We want to give this back.’ ”(full story atSceneDaily)
MORE: Michael Waltrip acknowledged on Saturday that his team had the sway bar that team owner Jack Roush accused a Toyota team of stealing last season. But Waltrip insisted that it wasn't a theft, that the bar accidentally wound up at his shop after the September race at Dover and that nobody realized it belonged to Roush Fenway Racing until that organization called to inquire about it in January. "Accidents happen, mistakes happen," Waltrip said. "If you look inside this garage area today there's over 70 racing vehicles in here and stuff gets slung everywhere ... I could see why he would be upset. He feels like he was wronged and he's mad about it." Roush said the sway bar was specially designed by Roush Fenway for his cars. He said they were larger than the old bars, unable to fit in the toolbox slot and were put underneath the box instead. Roush said a member of a Toyota team -- which turned out to be David Reutimann's #00 car -- parked next to him at Dover, then walked over and took the piece. "I don't know what makes him tick," Waltrip said of Roush. "But I do know that no one went to his toolbox and swiped his bar." Waltrip said he had no knowledge that the piece was sandblasted to hide its identity and that somebody from his team called a vendor to have it duplicated as Roush alleged. "I don't have knowledge of any of that," he said. "I heard it was painted blue and when we figured out that it wasn't ours then it was set off to the side and eventually returned."(ESPN.com)(3-29-2008)
- Kennedy Assumes Crew Chief Role #55 team: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Bobby Kennedy and Paul Andrews will switch managerial roles beginning with
Martinsville Speedway. Kennedy will now serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and his #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team as Andrews will continue in a leadership role to
supervise Michael Waltrip Racing's test teams. "Paul did a great job in helping us reach our top-35 goal and I know he will continue his diligence with our test teams for the betterment of our organization," Waltrip said. "Bobby has always been there for me and my NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team to help with our decision making process. We have
known each other for a very long time and I guess you can say that we are made for each other. Going to Martinsville with Bobby knowing we have the luxury of being in the top 35, is a relief. Now, it is all about being successful in the race."(MWR PR)(3-25-2008)
- MWR Installs Jet Edge Waterjet Cutting System: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) has installed a Jet Edge precision waterjet cutting system at its fabrication shop in Cornelius, N.C. MWR plans to use its Jet Edge system to cut parts for its three Sprint Cup Series teams and Nationwide Series team. MWR and Jet Edge also announced their new technical partnership, which will give MWR access to Jet Edge’s latest waterjet-cutting technology and position Jet Edge as a leading waterjet technology supplier to the $19.5 billion performance racing industry. With construction of its new fabrication shop completed, MWR has begun increasing its in-house manufacturing capabilities, explained Dr. Eric Warren, MWR’s vice president and technical director. One of its first steps was to acquire waterjet-cutting capabilities that have become essential to NASCAR teams as they race to fabricate parts under extremely tight deadlines.(MWR PR)(3-18-2008)
- Gold wheels for Mikey, Dale and David: #55-Michael Waltrip and his three Sprint Cup Series, #44-Dale Jarrett and #00-David Reutimann teams will pay tribute to the golden anniversary of the Daytona 500 on Sunday by starting the 50th running of The Great American Race sporting specially-designed gold wheels. Following the 200-lap event, the wheels will be autographed and sold to raise money for charities supported by the France family. The Waltrip teams will run the gold wheels only for the start of the race, moving back to their traditional chrome wheels after the first round of pit stops. (MWR PR)(2-16-2008)
- Aaron's to sponsor #00, MWR testing: As early as Sunday, Michael Waltrip Racing’s #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota team departs to participate in the first official 2008 Sprint Cup Series test session at Daytona International Speedway. David Reutimann, who switches to the #44 UPS Toyota Camry after the first five events, will test the #00 entry from January 7th-9th. Session two will commence on January 14th and include both the #55 Napa Toyota team and the #44 UPS Toyota team with drivers Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett respectively. The second session will wrap on the 16th. After the Sprint Cup Series test sessions conclude, there is no downtime for Michael Waltrip Racing. Not only is MWR testing Daytona this month, they are scheduling various test sessions simultaneously at different locations on a weekly basis. This weekend Josh Wise heads to the Harley Davidson Florida Evaluation Center in Naples (Fla.) for a straight-line test. Next week, Michael Waltrip and Michael McDowell are scheduled to test Cup cars at Nashville Superspeedway. Then McDowell heads back to Nashville on the 17th with David Reutimann to test at the venue again. Michael Waltrip Racing returns a third time as Josh Wise takes his turn at the 1.33-mile D-shaped oval on the 22nd in a Cup car.(MWR site)(1-4-2008)
- Pemberton leaves DEI? UPDATE 4 MWR names 3 new crew chiefs: hearing that Dale Earnhardt Inc #8 crew chief, Ryan Pemberton [#01 in 2007 with DEI/Ginn Racing], could be heading to Penske Racing as the crew chief for #77 Sam Hornish Jr.(12-5-2007)
UPDATE: Crew chief Ryan Pemberton has left Dale Earnhardt Inc., and the team said Doug Richert will replace him beginning Wednesday. Pemberton was scheduled to lead the #8 Chevy that will be co-driven next season by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola.(Associated Press/ESPN.com)(12-12-2007)
UPDATE 2: hearing Pemberton has not spoken to Penske Racing about a job, but he is speaking with other teams and will make a quick decision.(12-13-2007)
UPDATE 3: A reliable inside source tells Rowdy.com that Ryan Pemberton is headed to Michael Waltrip Racing to become the crew chief for driver David Reutimann. Reutimann will start the year in the #00 before moving to the #44 car vacated by Dale Jarrett [when he retires] after the first five races of 2008.(Rowdy.com)(12-13-2007)
UPDATE 4: Michael Waltrip Racing announced its 2008 Sprint Cup Series crew chief lineup with the recent hiring of Paul Andrews, Bill Pappas and Ryan Pemberton. Andrews will serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and the #55 Napa Auto Parts Toyota Camry team. Pappas is assigned to the team, which will field the #44 UPS Ccmry for Dale Jarrett then become the #00 team at Martinsville when David Reutimann takes over the #44 UPS ride. Pemberton is the crew chief for David Reutimann, who will race the #00 Aaron’s Toyota Camry for five races before switching to the driver of the #44 UPS team. Pemberton and Reutimann will remain together through the transition. Jerry Baxter remains as crew chief of the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry driven by David Reutimann in the Nationwide [was Busch] Series. Michael Waltrip comments on 2008 crew chief lineup: “My vision of Michael Waltrip Racing becoming one of the elite organizations in NASCAR has not changed since the day I started this team. Over the past four months we have made significant moves to position ourselves for success with the addition of my new business partner Rob Kauffman, our Technical Director, Dr. Eric Warren, and EVP of Business Operations Cal Wells. Our logical next phase was to bring in race and championship winning crew chiefs to lead our teams. And we have done that with the addition of Paul Andrews, Bill Pappas and Ryan Pemberton. The degree of difficulty in our monumental start up in 2007 was evident and standing flat-footed heading into 2008 was not an option for us. I could not be more proud of the recent developments. MWR is here to stay and I think these moves show our commitment to long-term success.”(MWR PR)(12-14-2007)
- Real Estate Developer An Investor in Michael Waltrip Racing: Prominent real estate developer Johnny Harris already swings a big stick in the golf world. Now he wants a piece of the action in the NASCAR garage. Harris recently acquired a stake in Michael Waltrip Racing, his first foray into motorsports. The 60-year-old executive will be part of MWR's six-member board and will advise longtime friend Rob Kauffman, a London-based investor who recently bought half of the race team. Harris paired Kauffman with Waltrip and made an undisclosed investment himself. Kauffman revealed his investment in Waltrip's team [in October] while visiting Charlotte to attend the NASCAR race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. At the time, Harris' involvement was not mentioned. Harris, president of Lincoln Harris, is best known of a substantial portfolio of real estate developments in SouthPark and Ballantyne. He has played a major role in other sports for many years. He's a member of the Carolina Panthers ownership group, serves as president at Quail Hollow Club and has a stake in a Premier League soccer franchise in Glasgow, Scotland. Harris played a major role in the creation of the local PGA Tour event [in Charlotte] and is an influential member at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters.(Charlotte Business Journal)(12-5-2007)
- Gibbs to the rescue for MWR UPDATE Denied: Michael Waltrip said in a TV interview last week that one reason his team has improved in recent weeks is the help it has received from Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR is moving to Toyota next year, but it can't make Chevrolet officials too happy to hear the Gibbs experts already are sharing info with the Toyota camp.(ESPN.com)(10-17-2007)
UPDATE: "Joe Gibbs Racing is 100 percent focused on trying to win a championship for GM, as well as our sponsors and fans. We have at no time shared any technical information with Toyota or any Toyota team, nor will we as long as there are still races to be run in 2007." - J.D. Gibbs, president, Joe Gibbs Racing.(10-17-2007)
- New owner/investor for Waltrip? Official: hearing that in addition to Dale Jarrett's Friday announcement of his retirement and limited schedule for 2008, Michael Waltrip Racing will also introduce David Reutimann as 2008 driver of the UPS Toyota plus MWR will also introduce their new owner/investor.(10-11-2007)
UPDATE: Mayfield? Stremme? Jeremy Mayfield's career may have imploded, but he's expected to get a chance to rebuild with Michael Waltrip Racing next season. Sources say Mayfield has agreed to a deal to share the #44 with Dale Jarrett, who will drive a limited schedule in '08. Jarrett will announce his plans for next year at Lowe's on Friday. It's been speculated that Jarrett, who has those six champion's provisionals to guarantee positions on the grid, would start the season and try to get the #44 into the top-35 in the points and then retire. According to sources, if Jarrett can save some of the provisionals by qualifying on time, he would agree to return to use them to get into races if the #44 fell out of the top 35.(Sports Illustrated)
BUT: Upon retirement, sources say that Jarrett will continue to expand on his new career in television broadcasting and that David Reutimann, his teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, will move from the #00 Toyota to Jarrett's # 44. When Reutimann switches cars, sources say that David Stremme will step in to drive the # 00 next season.
However: David Stremme is pretty blunt when he talks about his Sprint Cup prospects for 2008. "I got nothing," Stremme said Thursday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I'm beating on doors trying to find something. We've talked to a few people, but it's tough right now." With most of the Cup rides already filled for next season, Stremme's name has been floated as a candidate for several cars but nothing has materialized. (SceneDaily.com)(10-12-2007)
UPDATE 2: Reutimann confirmed Thursday that he'll move from the #00 Toyota into the UPS-sponsored #44 Toyota after the first five races, replacing Dale Jarrett, who is cutting back to a limited schedule. Reutimann said he didn't know what will happen to the #00 team after he moves over but that his understanding was that Waltrip plans to continue running three cars. He said he expects his crew chief, Frank Kerr, and crew will move intact to the #44, but doesn't know for certain that it will work that way.(Tampa Tribune)(10-12-2007)
UPDATE 3: David Stremme knows well about the ups and downs of the racing business at NASCAR's top level. "It's funny, one minute you think that you might not have any options. Then the phone rings and someone wants see you" said Stremme. "The good news is that I have a great management team working on my behalf. That allows me to stay focused on running well. We have a pretty good car for Saturday night and I am excited about that. Everything else will fall into place when it's time."(DSR)(10-12-2007)
Announcement: Michael Waltrip Racing unveiled the next phase of its accelerated growth, announcing several moves to enhance its future as an elite NASCAR racing organization. Michael Waltrip introduced Robert Kauffman as an equal ownership partner in a newly formed company, Michael Waltrip Racing Holdings, LLC. Kauffman, a founder and managing partner of Fortress Investment Group, will lend financial and business strategy support to MWRH to ensure its growth is both strategic and successful. Kauffman, a long-time racing enthusiast who was born in New York and currently lives in Europe, is pursuing this business opportunity personally, not through Fortress Investment Group. Waltrip also confirmed that MWRH will field three full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup teams and one full-time Nationwide Series effort in 2008, and that rookie David Reutimann has renewed his driving contract to remain in the MWRH stable for the next three years. Waltrip will continue to drive the #55 Toyota Camry sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts. Reutimann will drive the first five races of the 2008 Sprint Cup season in the #00 Toyota Camry before taking over the #44 UPS Toyota Camry starting at Martinsville, Va. Dale Jarrett will drive the #44 UPS Toyota Camry for the first five Sprint Cup races (Daytona International Speedway, California Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway) and will run his final race in May in the Sprint All-Star event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Reutimann, currently second in Busch Series drivers points, will also drive the #99 Toyota Camry sponsored by Aaron's Sales Lease and Ownership, Best Western and XM Satellite Radio, full-time in the Nationwide Series, running for the championship. As part of the business strategy, MWRH is adding depth to its executive management team. In addition to retaining Ty Norris as its Vice President and General Manager, MWRH announces the hiring of Calvin Wells III as its Executive Vice President of Operations and Larry Johns as its Chief Financial Officer.(Michael Waltrip Racing PR), no word on another driver for the #00 team. Stremme and Mayfield had been rumored.
AND:Jarrett to Retire from Full-Time Competition: Dale Jarrett announced he would retire from full-time competition in the Nextel Cup Series at the conclusion of the 2007 season. While Jarrett is retiring from full-time competition, he will compete in six races during the 2008 season [the Bud Shootout, the first 5 races, and the All-Star race in May]. "This is obviously a decision that required a lot of thought and consideration and it is one of the hardest things I've had to do," said Jarrett. "I've been fortunate to have one of the best NASCAR sponsors in UPS, and I'm first and foremost a competitor. The desire to compete is the reason why I have continued as a driver in the Nextel Cup Series. But I've come to the decision to get out of the racecar and while I'll miss being a driver, I am looking forward to the next phase of my life and career."(Michael Waltrip Racing PR).(10-12-2007)
- Waltrip to announce 2008 plans UPDATE 2 Jarrett 6 races in 2008? Michael Waltrip said Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, that he plans to make an announcement about Michael Waltrip Racing's 2008 plans on Friday, Oct 12th. Waltrip said he know what he wants to announce, but still has a few things to work out this week. When asked about #44-Dale Jarrett and a possible part-time 2008 schedule, Waltrip said Jarrett is can do whatever he wants and the decision is up to Jarrett.(PRN's Garage Pass)(10-6-2007)
UPDATE: #44-Dale Jarrett appears to be taking his first steps toward retirement. Jarrett, who has been mulling his racing future and a potential television career with ESPN, said Saturday after qualifying he intends to "race some" next year. Jarrett, who said he will remain with Michael Waltrip Racing, said he will reveal his plans on Thursday and a formal announcement is expected Friday. "I made my decision, [and] I'll tell you the rest Thursday before qualifying [at Lowe's Motor Speedway]," Jarrett said. "Can you hang on for five days? I don't think it's anything that will change the world or anything." Waltrip, pole-sitter for Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, is the owner of the three-car team but said he could not offer more regarding Jarrett's decision. "We'll just have to see," Waltrip said. "I want him to do whatever he wants. He's a legend, he's a champion. I want him to be happy, so whatever it takes to do that. I know we've got something scheduled Friday, [but] we don't know all we're going to say yet. I know I own [the team], but I don't know anything to tell you right now." Meanwhile, in related Michael Waltrip Racing news, driver David Reutimann said he anticipates having his contract worked out within the next few days. "I think we're all in a pretty good place right now," Reutimann said. "We still have some things to work out, some I's to dot and t's to cross, but hopefully we'll have something in the next couple days."(ESPN.com)(10-7-2007)
UPDATE 2: #44-Dale Jarrett is leaning toward running just six races next year before stepping out of his car after 23 seasons. Jarrett has been mulling his future for several months and does not plan to drive the car past the March 30 event at Martinsville, according to a person familiar with the 2008 plans at Michael Waltrip Racing told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because portions of the deal are still being finalized. Jarrett, the 1999 Cup champion, has a past champion's provisional that can be used six times to ensure him a spot in the field. That will take him up to Martinsville, where he made his first career start in 1984. MWR officials are hopeful Jarrett can use those six events to get the #44 Toyota inside the top 35 in points. The top 35 cars are locked into the field, and MWR's three cars have all been outside the cutoff this season and have struggled to make races. The team currently hopes to replace Jarrett with David Reutimann, who drives the #00 and would pilot it while Jarrett closes out his career. MWR wants to continue racing the #00 after the switch, but the driver [David Stremme is rumored] and sponsor are still being ironed out. Jarrett is expected to ease into the broadcast booth upon retirement. He's done some work for ESPN this season and has thrived in the booth, but stressed that future opportunities did not play into his decision.(Associated Press)(10-7-2007)
- #55 gasman injured at Dover UPDATE 4: during the 4th caution in the Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway, a tire from the #44-Jarrett team, rolled onto pit road, many cars were able to avoid it, #6-Ragan tried but the tire rolled in front of his car and he hit it, the tire shot into the #55-Waltrip pit and hit Art Harris, the gasman for the #55 team and knocked him down. He was attended by paramedics and transported by Ambulance, any news heard/seen will be reported.
UPDATE: Harris is awake and alert and has been be transported to the local hospital for further observation.
UPDATE 2: it was reported on ABC that #55 gasman Art Harris was treated and released from the local hospital.(ABC Dover race coverage)(9-23-2007)
UPDATE 3: Michael Waltrip Racing's Art Harris was treated and released in Dover, Delaware after being struck by a loose wheel on pit road during the Dodge Dealers 400. Harris is the Gasman for the #55 NAPA Toyota driven by Michael Waltrip. He was able to fly home with the team after the event and will have further evaluation by his physician in North Carolina. His status is listed as day-to-day.(MWR Site)(9-25-2007)
UPDATE 4: Art Harris, the NAPA team’s gas man, is feeling better after being struck by a tire on pit road at Dover International Speedway. Harris is participating in Thursday’s pit practice with the crew and plans to fuel the Napa Auto Parts Camry on Sunday. He says he is bruised and sore from where the tire hit him, but otherwise, he is fine and ready to go to Kansas.(MWR Site)(9-27-2007)
- MWR hires Techincal Director, open to partner: Michael Waltrip hired Dr. Eric Warren as technical director, the first of many moves he hopes will strengthen his three-car team. Warren, who has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University, spent the last five years as technical director at Evernham Motorsports. He was replaced midway through this season as team owner Ray Evernham refocused his energy on building cars to help his slumping team. Warren's hiring fills a role that has been vacant at Michael Waltrip Racing since he began hiring late last season. ``It was a job we wanted to fill when we first started, but we didn't feel like the right person was available to choose from,'' Waltrip told The Associated Press on Monday. ``Eric is a special dude. He'll help us out immensely.'' As more and more team owners take on partners and look at mergers as a prudent way to maintain the company, Waltrip said he's not ruled out taking on investors. But he doesn't want to sell majority ownership of his team, and is only interested in an equal partnership that would allow him to continue the vision he has for MWR. ``I've certainly had a lot of people come to me saying, `We want to invest in you.' But it ends up sounding like they want to take over,'' he said. ``That doesn't interest me. A true partner would interest me -- half you, half me. You have your responsibility and I have mine. There's a lot of people that are interested in our sport, and I'll just hopefully keep improving our product and if someone is interested in being part of it, I'll listen. But for me, today, right now, the right deal hasn't come along.'' Waltrip said he plans to field three Cup cars and a Busch team next season, and has verbal commitments for Jarrett and Reutimann to be behind the wheel. But he acknowledged there are no contracts finalized, but he's moving forward as if all three will be back.(in part from AP/Yahoo Sports)(9-18-207)
- MWR repeats and wins softball title: Michael Waltrip Racing Won the 2007 Season Championship in Bob Hubner's Totally Racin' Softball League. Not only did MWR defend their 2006 Title they went undefeated. Nine other Teams competed for the title: Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Red Bull, Roush Fenway Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports 1, Hendrick Motorsports 2, Michael Waltrip Racing 2, Stock Car Steel/SRI. For more League and Team information visit racecityresumes.com/softball.(8-29-2007)
- MWR to two teams? to lose UPS? UPDATE both DENIED: Toyota is expected to pair down Michael Waltrip racing from a three-car effort to a two-car squad, shifting some of that support to JGR's three-car team of Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. Dale Jarrett is said to be seriously considering retirement, trading in his helmet for a microphone as a television analyst, which would leave MWR with Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann. There has been talk that UPS, unhappy with the lack of exposure the company has received this year from Jarrett's struggles to make races, is looking at other teams for 2008 sponsorship with Roush Fenway Racing a target, possibly for Greg Biffle's #16 entry.(RacingOne)(8-8-2007)
UPDATE: on Wednesday's NASCAR Now [ESPN2] Angelique Chengelis reported that Michael Waltrip Racing's Ty Norris said there was absolutely no morsel of truth to the rumor about MWR scaling back to two teams or Dale Jarrett leaving, plus Norris was at a UPS Sponsor summit and that UPS says things are going well.(8-9-2007)
- Terry Labonte in the #55 at Indy? UPDATE 2: hearing that two time Cup Champ, Terry Labonte, will drive the #55 NAPA Toyota in the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis instead of owner and regular driver Michael Waltrip. Labonte drove the #55 at Infineon Raceway and is scheduled to run it at Watkins Glen. Labonte brings the past champions provisional to use and since he last won the championship in 1996, he would get the first shot to use it, if needed, over Bill Elliott in the #21 Wood Brothers Ford. Elliott last won the championship in 1988. #44-Dale Jarrett has used his allotment  of champions provisional's this year and cannot use any more [this doesn't count when qualifying is cancelled]. The #55 and #21 teams are both out of the Top-35 in owners pts and the guaranteed spot and have to qualify their way in the race.(7-17-2007)
UPDATE: confirmed Terry Labonte will drive the #55 at Indy. Also, Terry's son, Justin, will drive for Waltrip in the Truck Series race at O'Reilly Raceway Park.(7-18-2007)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Terry Labonte will once again, step into the #55 NAPA Toyota for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.(MWR PR)(7-18-2007)
- Toyota sticking with Waltrip: Toyota's Lee White said Toyota is committed to its long-term deal with Michael Waltrip Racing.(ESPN.com)(6-19-2007)
- Terry Labonte to run the #55 at the road courses? UPDATE: hearing that two-time Cup champ, Terry Labonte, will run the #55 NAPA Toyota at the road course races at Infineon Raceway [where he finished 3rd in the #96 last season] and at Watkins Glen in August. Labonte would have the past champions provisional to use and since he won his last championship in 1996, he would vault ahead of #21-Bill Elliott who win his championship in 1988, guaranteeing the #55 will make both races.(6-12-2007)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced today that two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion [1984 & 1996], Terry Labonte will step into the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry for the road course races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International. "It's not an easy decision for me to remove myself from the car, but I know it is for the betterment of our whole program," said Waltrip. "I know Terry's experience and road race savvy will breathe a little bit of fresh air into my young NAPA team." Labonte has had much success at road course tracks finishing third at Infineon Raceway last year and has six top-10 finishes at Watkins Glen International.
"To put Terry in the car is a reflection of the big picture we are trying to establish with this NAPA Racing team and hopefully, it will be the spark this team needs," Waltrip said. "I look forward to watching the NAPA team compete and learning more about all the MWR cars from a different perspective, exclusively as an owner." NAPA supports Waltrip's decision. "NAPA appreciates and respects Michael's dedication to move our racing program forward and regain our on-track competitive edge," said NAPA President Bob Susor. "We thank him for his efforts and dedication to NAPA and welcome the addition of NASCAR champion Terry Labonte to the NAPA family for these road-course events." Waltrip will return to his NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for the Lenox Industrial Tool 300 on July 1st at New Hampshire International Speedway.(NAPA/MWR PR)(6-12-2007)
- Jarrett could leave MWR? UPDATE 2: XM Radio reported on Sunday that #44-Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota were re-evaluating Jarrett’s future with the team and could release him outright or sending him to a different Toyota team, either a current team or one that could switch to Toyota next season.(Ford Racing site)
UPDATE: the Ford Racing site had the above posted, but removed it without explanation or update for a bad rumor, supposedly XMRadio said it was never aired. and now it is back [on 6-12-2007] but reworded as: According to sources Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota were re-evaluating Jarrett’s future with the team and could release him outright or sending him to a different Toyota team, either a current team or one that could switch to Toyota next season.(6-11-2007)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip failed to qualify at Pocono, making it 12 DNQs in 14 races this season, and adding more fuel to the fires of speculation surrounding his team. Unconfirmed reports continue to circulate about Waltrip refunding between $300,000 and $400,000 per missed race to his sponsor, NAPA Auto Parts, and about the unhappiness of Dale Jarrett’s sponsor, UPS. Jarrett also failed to make Sunday’s race -- his third DNQ in the last five events -- and there is talk in the Nextel Cup garage that he could be released by MWR, or moved to another operation. As a team, Waltrip, Jarrett and rookie David Reutimann have qualified just 22 times in 42 attempts this season.(Motorsports Soapbox/Dave Moody)(6-12-2007)
- Bobby Kennedy Happy to be Back at Track: Michael Waltrip Racing's Bobby Kennedy is relieved to be taking a more hands-on approach with his team. Kennedy, the team's vice president of competition, is back at the track for the second week after serving a NASCAR suspension that began Feb. 12 after the team was found to have used an illegal fuel additive in practice for the Daytona 500. Kennedy has spent the months since then helping move all of MWR into its new shop and getting the teams cars of tomorrow ready to race. As to whether or not he felt his suspension was appropriate, Kennedy says that he doesn't really have an opinion. He's just glad that his team was able to compete in the Daytona 500, even if he could not be there. The reason they told me that I was suspended, they would take me rather than doing the whole team there at Daytona, so I was willing to accept that and just move on. I'd much rather the car be there to race rather than worry about whether myself was there." As to the source of that mysterious fuel additive, Kennedy says the team remains in the dark about that.(SceneDaily.com)(6-9-2007)
- Toyota: Gibbs? Penske merge with Waltrip? UPDATE 2: Toyota, sources said, has approached the Gibbs team with a proposal to leave Chevrolet, which would give it #20-Tony Stewart, #11-Denny Hamlin and #18-J.J. Yeley. Gibbs’ management doesn’t appear to be that interested, but the offer hasn’t been rejected, according to team sources. Penske [#2, #12], who has been with just about every manufacturer in racing over the years and who is one of the world’s biggest Toyota dealers, could be making the move to Toyota for next year. According to sources close to the situation, Penske could be looking at a merger with Michael Waltrip’s struggling Toyota operation. And there is speculation that Robert and Doug Yates [#38, #88] may be willing to listen to Toyota offers, even though they have long-standing ties with Ford.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-31-2007)
UPDATE: Several sources tell SI.com that Toyota is going hard after Joe Gibbs Racing and that Gibbs is very interested. Officially, the Gibbs team denies any contact with Toyota: "It's news to us," team spokesman Mike Arning said. Toyota, as a matter of policy, does not comment on contract negotiations. The potential deal is a delicate subject for Gibbs and Toyota. Gibbs' contract with Chevrolet, which runs out at the end of the year, stipulates this is a non-negotiating period with other manufacturers. Is contact to determine interest negotiating? You'd have to read the fine print and then get a clarification from an arbitrator to determine that. But sources say there definitely has been communication between Toyota and Gibbs.(Sports Illustrated)(6-2-2007)
UPDATE: Representatives from Penske Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing on Saturday disallowed rumors of an impending merger between the two organizations, which currently field Dodges and Toyotas, respectively, in a variety of NASCAR series. "I heard about it for the first time [Friday]," said Ty Norris, Michael Waltrip Racing's general manager. "I wish he would come and talk to us."
Wally McCarty, Penske Racing's marketing director, was just as succinct. "We're racing Dodges through the end of next season, and right now we're most concerned about winning races for Dodge -- we have to be," McCarty said. "We have a beautiful new facility and so does [Waltrip]. There's no 'win' there. I don't know where people come up with these things. Roger [Penske] sells nearly every car make made in the world, and he has great relationships with all of them. We race Dodges, Hondas and Porsches out of the same shop, and we have great relationships with all of them. Would we race Toyotas at some point? When it's appropriate, we might talk about it, and if it's right, we might do that [but] right now [Waltrip] has three teams and we have two -- and you can only have four [total] so it doesn't make sense." McCarty said Penske was considering a third team "depending on what [Penske IndyCar Series driver] Sam Hornish decides to do," over the next year or two.(NASCAR.com)(6-3-2007)
- Hyder gets new gig, crew chief for Mayfield: Crew chief David Hyder, fired from Michael Waltrip Racing last month, will return to the pit box next weekend at Dover International Speedway to guide the #36 Toyota driven by Jeremy Mayfield, Bill Davis Racing competition director Tommy Baldwin told ESPN.com Saturday. Hyder is already working in the BDR shop, preparing a car to test Tuesday at North Carolina Speedway in preparation for Dover, Baldwin said. Hyder was fined $100,000 and suspended indefinitely by NASCAR in the first week of the season after an illegal substance was found in the carburetor on the #55 Toyota prior to qualifying.
NASCAR will lift the suspension on May 30, opening the door for Hyder to join BDR. Baldwin is relieved to bring Hyder on board. He'd been pulling double duty since March, serving both as crew chief for Mayfield's team and as the organization's competition director. "Thank god," Baldwin said with a grin. "It's time for me to focus on the future of this organization." Hyder was unavailable for comment.(ESPN.com)(5-26-2007)
- Hyder & Kennedy suspensions to be lifted: NASCAR will lift the indefinite suspensions of crew chief David Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy on May 30, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said on Friday. Hyder and Kennedy were suspended when NASCAR discovered an unidentified substance in the engine of #55-Michael Waltrip's car before qualifying for the Daytona 500 in February. Both were escorted from the facility and have not been to a track since. Hyder was fired last month before the race at Talladega Superspeedway. "Bobby got booted by association," Waltrip said Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "He was supposed to oversee all of the cars and the 55 was the one found to be outside of the rules. It took us a little while to understand what to do. It's such a devastating blow, and we just decided to end the association [with Hyder]. Bobby has been with me for seven or eight years, and we've never gotten into any trouble for anything. I don't know Hyder and I know Bobby. Bobby has never had that type of personality, and ultimately the crew chief is responsible for the car as NASCAR so eloquently pointed out last week." Waltrip said Kennedy's role has been redefined and he's not sure what the new role will be. Waltrip, who met with NASCAR officials again last week, hopes this brings closure to ordeal. "They told us what was found in the intake was obviously a substance that was put there on purpose to enhance performance, and it had to be done by someone inside our company or inside our circle," Waltrip said. "I don't want to single out Hyder. I do want to say that a couple of the guys who came with him are no longer employed by us."(ESPN.com)(5-19-2007)
- Waltrip's Raceworld opens: Michael Waltrip Racing’s ‘Raceworld USA’ opened to the public on Wed., May 16, in time for race weeks at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The 140,000 square-foot facility encompasses more than 11 acres and houses the world’s first interactive fan destination race shop accessible to the public. The facility is located off I-77 at exit 28 in Cornelius.(Toyota PR)(5-17-2007)
- Waltrip's hearing postponed until late June: #55-Michael Waltrip's hearing on charges of reckless driving and failure to report an accident after a crash has been postponed until June 25. The district attorney's office of Catawba County requested the continuance on Monday. Neither Waltrip nor his attorney appeared at the courthouse.(ESPN.com)(5-16-2007)
- Hyder / MWR part ways? UPDATE: been told that David Hyder, former #55 Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) crew chief, who was suspended for the fuel violation at Daytona in Feb, has parted ways with MWR. Hyder has been working at the MWR shop.(4-27-2007)
UPDATE: David Hyder, one of two Michael Waltrip Racing employees suspended by NASCAR in a cheating scandal at Daytona in February, parted ways with the team on Friday. "As of this morning, Michael Waltrip Racing and David Hyder have ended their employment relationship," Waltrip said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. Hyder and team director Bobby Kennedy were both put on indefinite suspension and Hyder was fined $100,000 by NASCAR after an illegal substance was found in the intake manifold of Waltrip's No. 55 Toyota during an inspection prior to the season-opening Daytona 500. Kennedy remains on the team payroll but is still suspended. Both NASCAR and the team have investigated the incident, but no results of those investigation have been made public.(Associated Press)(4-27-2007)
- NAPA looking? UPDATE 2 denied hearing that NAPA Auto Parts is looking at options for their sponsorship in the Nextel Cup Series. NAPA has been the sponsor for Michael Waltrip in the Cup Series since 2001, first with the #15 DEI Chevy, then since 2006 on the #55 car. Supposedly NAPA is talking to Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as a possible replacement sponsor for Cingular, should AT&T not win its lawsuit against NASCAR to have the AT&T decals put on the #31 Chevy AND with Roush Fenway Racing as a sponsor for the #16 Ford Greg Biffle drives. Current sponsor Ameriquest has opted out of the sponsorship after the 2007 season.(4-25-2007)
UPDATE: been told there is no truth to the rumor that RCR is in contact with NAPA regarding sponsorship for the #31.(RCR)(4-27-2007)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip knows that his team needs to overcome its struggles this season, but he is disputing published reports that his #55 Toyota sponsor, NAPA, is exploring options elsewhere. "NAPA has ... had a lot of trials and tribulations; they've been really very supportive of getting this whole thing turned around. ...," Waltrip said Friday morning at Talladega Superspeedway. "This is the first year. I read on the Internet that NAPA was looking. They are; they're looking for us to do a better job."(SceneDaily.com)(4-27-2007)
- Toyota executive says TRD and Waltrip team starting from scratch on new car: Toyota officials knew the company’s first season in Nextel Cup would be tough, but never dreamed it would be this difficult. “We certainly didn’t expect all seven cars to make every race, but we didn’t really think it would be this bad,” said Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development. “Here at Phoenix, we figured we wouldn’t get seven in, but we thought it would be five, not three.” Before Saturday’s race, Aust said Toyota was working on a project with one of its new teams, Michael Waltrip Racing, to rebuild a car from scratch and try to improve the overall performance. “We’ve been working on this project for about three weeks,” Aust said. “We took apart the car and weighed every part then put it back together. We’re looking at every bolt. We’ll take the car to the wind tunnel and, once we see we’ve got something better, we’ll get it to all of our teams.” Aust said Toyota Racing Development in California also is working hard on improving the Cup engine. “I think we’ll see some real improvement by Charlotte (in May),” he said.(Associated Press / Thats Racin)(4-22-2007)
- Waltrip gets new crew chief: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced today that Buddy Sisco will move over to the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry team as crew chief for Michael Waltrip. Sisco, who most recently served as car chief on the #00 Domino's Pizza Toyota Camry, begins his new role with Waltrip this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. "I am honored to be stepping back into the role as Michael's crew chief," said Sisco, who was Waltrip's part-time crew chief last year. "This is a position I have wanted for a long time. You have to remember that this team is a start up team with a new manufacturer to the sport. We have veteran people on our crew, but this is not a veteran team. I owe my dedication to Michael and his team, which I know has great potential." Waltrip has confidence in Sisco's leadership abilities to deliver results. "Buddy provides the guidance that our team needs," said Waltrip. "The core individuals that proudly wear the NAPA shield continue to be diligent. Through all of the ups and downs this season, their efforts and loyalty have not wavered. Buddy will focus solely on the performance of my #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry." Sisco has vast experience in the Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series as a crew chief. The move is another step forward in the significant reorganization taking place at MWR. In addition to Sisco's new role, Derrick Finley will take over as Lead Team Engineer on the #55 NAPA Toyota.(MWR PR), Sisco takes over for interim crew chief Scott Eggleston after Texas in April, no word on Eggleston's plans. Former crew chief David Hyder is suspended but supposedly still working at the shop.(4-19-2007)
- Sponsor problems at MWR? Elliott to MWR? UPDATE2 denied: Rumors are swirling about Toyota driver #55-Michael Waltrip's future and his sponsorship support [NAPA], after failing to make the last six tour races. According to one unconfirmed report, Waltrip is having to return $300,000 to his sponsors for each race he misses. There is also speculation that Bill Elliott may be under consideration for a ride with the three-team operation; Elliott, 50 and only a part-time driver these days, would have six championship provisionals, guaranteeing him a spot in at least six races. However Elliott, despite the multimillion-dollar contracts being waved at him by more than one team, has been less than enthusiastic about becoming too deeply involved in the sport again.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-16-2007)
UPDATE: For anyone wondering if Michael Waltrip's crashing a Toyota SUV could end his relationship with Toyota, they should think again, Toyota Racing Development Senior Vice President Lee White said Sunday before the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Waltrip owns three teams and has been the face of Toyota this year in its first year of Nextel Cup racing. "Our position is still that we have agreements with our teams," White said. "We live up to our agreements. Everybody is working hard. Michael is working hard. His organization is working hard, as is all the others." Waltrip said he fell asleep while driving home early in the morning April 7. He suffered cuts to his hands and face in the accident and walked home. The North Carolina Highway Patrol charged him with reckless driving and failing to report an accident.(SceneDaily.com)(4-16-2007)
UPDATE 2: David Newton reports on ESPN2's NASCAR Now that he talked to Elliott's wife who said there was no truth to the rumor that Elliott would drive for Waltrip.(4-18-2007)
- More on Waltrip's traffic accident UPDATE: The witness who discovered Michael Waltrip's overturned car initially thought no one survived the accident until the NASCAR driver wiggled out the back window. The witness, an 18-year-old college student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, requested anonymity during a phone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press for fear of reprisal from Waltrip's fan base. But she said she lives near the two-time Daytona 500 winner in Sherrill's Ford, and stumbled upon the accident when she was returning home around 2:00am/et Saturday. She saw an overturned Toyota Land Cruiser in a ditch and rushed over to check on the occupants. She didn't see anyone in the car and no one answered her shouts, so she called 911 for help. "After I got off the phone I was walking around the car again and somebody stuck their foot out the back driver side of the window," she said. "That's when Michael Waltrip got out. He wiggled out the back window. I knew immediately it was him. He just got out the back driver side window and stood up." The witness said she asked Waltrip how long he'd been in the car and he told her about 10 minutes. "He was bleeding from his forehead and had some cuts on his fingers and arms," she said. "I told him `You are really lucky you are alive. I didn't think anybody was alive in there.' We sort of talked for a minute or two, and I told him 911 was on the way, and he just turned around and started walking home. "I didn't know what to say or what to do. He had a T-shirt and sweat pants and socks on, he might have taken his shoes off in the car, but I wasn't sure. And he just turned around and started walking home in his socks."
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said NASCAR would talk with Waltrip on Friday in Texas.
Waltrip had a scheduled interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, but a representative, Brooke Hondros, canceled it, saying Waltrip wasn't feeling well. But in an interview with The Charlotte Observer, he said he was embarrassed for leaving the scene. "I just feel stupid," he told the newspaper. "I feel like an idiot because this one is all me."
State trooper B.L. Buchanan said he arrived on the scene to find the wrecked SUV - which had also hit a telephone pole - but no Waltrip. He said he went to Waltrip's home to speak to him around 3:00am/et, but was unsuccessful in locating the driver. Hondros said Waltrip was showering in his pool house and didn't hear the police when they arrived. Buchanan said his shift ended at 5:00am/et, and he finally made contact with Waltrip at 8:00pm/et. Saturday when he returned to duty and Waltrip called him. The officer met him at Waltrip's home and issued the citation. Waltrip told The Observer alcohol did not contribute to the accident. "I didn't go home to avoid anything," he said. "I just went there trying to figure out what to do."(Associated Press)(4-13-2007)
UPDATE: Waltrip met Friday with NASCAR officials and was examined by doctors at the track's infield care center. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Waltrip was seen and released, which would have cleared him to race this weekend.(Associated Press)(4-14-2007)
- Michael Waltrip Charged After Vehicle Accident Saturday UPDATE 2: Statement from Waltrip: #55-Michael Waltrip is charged with reckless driving and failure to report an accident after a crash on Molly's Backbone Road in Catawba County. The Highway Patrol says Waltrip was driving about 70 miles per hour in the 55 mile-per-hour zone when he went off the right side of the road in a curve around 1:50 a.m. Saturday. His car then traveled back across the pavement and off the left side of the roadway, sliding sideways and striking a utility pole as it overturned. The car then rolled over and came to a rest on its side. Troopers said a witness saw Waltrip crawl out of the vehicle and leave the scene. When a trooper went to his home around 2:30 a.m. no one was there, but when he went back at 8 a.m. he found Waltrip, who admitted he'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Waltrip, with scratches on his face and some deep cuts on his finger, spoke with Eyewitness News about the crash. He said he was on his way home to Sherill's Ford from Charlotte. "I was almost home. I relaxed a little bit and ran off the road," he explained. "I woke up with gravel hitting the car and I tried to correct but it was too late. The seasoned driver says he instinctively got out of his car, and then decided to walk home because he often runs the route and was only a mile away. Waltrip will be in court in Newton on May 14.(WSOCTV.com)(4-10-2007)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip was uninjured in a single car accident Friday night near his home in Sherrills Ford, N.C. The 43-year old was returning from Charlotte, N.C. when he fell asleep at the wheel within a mile of his home and ran off the road, striking a telephone pole. “I am really embarrassed about the accident, but I feel fortunate that I wasn’t hurt,” said Waltrip. “For 25 years I have had a great driving record. I consider myself to be a courteous and safe driver on public roads. I never expected to fall asleep behind the wheel of a car.” The North Carolina Highway Patrol ticketed Waltrip for reckless driving (admitting to falling asleep at the wheel) and failure to notify authorities of an accident in a timely manner.(MWR PR)(4-10-2007)
UPDATE 2: see a short slideshow of the vehicle Waltrip was driving at wcnc.com.(4-12-2007)
- Waltrip gets help from Toyota: Toyota is taking aggressive measures, similar to the way it moved into the Craftsman Truck Series, to improve its Nextel Cup teams. Lee White, the general manager for Toyota Racing Development, said Saturday that TRD engineers are preparing a car from Michael Waltrip Racing that the struggling Waltrip could use at a future 1.5-mile track. He said TRD also has offered to build a Car of Tomorrow road-course car for Bill Davis Racing and a COT superspeedway car for Team Red Bull to use at the second Talladega race. But White insisted Toyota will not centralize the construction of Cup cars the way it did its trucks. White said four days are scheduled for Waltrip, who has missed the last four races, to test the car that was driven by Dale Jarrett at California. He said if the car ever gets into a Cup event it would be at the May race in Charlotte. White said the car will then go to Bill Davis' shop in the High Point, N.C., area and be put on a chassis machine, measured, checked and rechecked. White said he is encouraged by the progress Toyota has made the past month, particularly getting five of seven cars into Sunday's inaugural COT race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a subpar test last month. He said the company remains patient, understanding it will take time to make a mark in NASCAR's premier series. He hopes sponsors will remain patient as well, particularly NAPA, the primary sponsor of Waltrip's car. White added that Toyota is nearing a deal with a Busch team to run a few COT Cup road courses this year. He said Wyler Racing, which fields the Toyota Tundra driven by Jack Sprague in the Truck Series, might participate in a COT race later this year. He doesn't anticipate major expansion next season.(ESPN.com)
AND Toyota is sending one of Michael Waltrip Racing’s Camrys back to its TRD research center for a complete dismantling to see if they can learn why the car is so slow.(Ford Racing)(3-25-2007)
- MWR hires Finley from BDR: Sitting in his motorcoach at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday Michael Waltrip could hear the roar of Nextel Cup cars participating in the first practice. "It's just really tough … to hear those cars roll off pit road and know they were getting ready to win this Atlanta race [Sunday] and me not be a part of it," said Waltrip, who failed to qualify for his third straight Nextel Cup event Friday. "It's sad." But Waltrip wasn't sleeping in on this unusually cool morning. He was meeting with Toyota Racing Development officials to find a way to integrate their people and resources more into his struggling organization. He hopes to have that plan in place this week and present it to restless sponsors such as NAPA -- his own car's sponsor -- that haven't gotten the race-day exposure it paid for. "They gave us credibility and wind tunnel time and technical support," Waltrip said of Toyota. "Now we're stepping back and saying we need some help to implement the assets you're bringing to our team. We don't think we're doing a good job of implementing and taking advantage of all the wonderful technological help [they] can offer us. They're reassessing how that will go forward." Waltrip would like to see a few key engineers move from TRD's Concord, N.C., office to his new shop in Cornelius, NC. Waltrip isn't standing still. He hired Derrick Finley, who had been the crew chief for #36-Jeremy Mayfield at Bill Davis Racing, to serve as project manager and part-time crew chief while the suspended David Hyder sits at home [Jayski Note: Hyder was reported last week to be back at the shop, but cannot go to the track].(in part from: ESPN.com)(3-18-2007)
- Klaussner steps up support of Waltrip's #55: The new look of Klaussner Furniture Industries will make its debut this weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway with its expanded sponsorship of the #55, Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. The logo of Klaussner Home Furnishings, Klaussner's new consumer brand, will be prominently placed on the rear deck lid. Klaussner has supported Waltrip in a limited capacity for some time and recently chose to trade up from the window post to a more prominent placement on the car. Klaussner, which is gearing up for a new brand initiative later this year, is giving consumers and NASCAR fans a preview of its new look and new direction. More info about Klaussner Furniture at klaussner.com.(MWR PR)(3-16-2007)
- Mikey to have XM radio show: XM announced that Michael Waltrip will join racing's biggest stars exclusively on XM Radio. Waltrip will host the half-hour weekly show "Michael Waltrip Out Loud," exclusively on XM. Debuting on March 20, "Michael Waltrip Out Loud" will air every Tuesday night from 7:00- 7:30pm/et on XM's sports talk radio channel XM Sports Nation (XM 144). Waltrip's show will feature his insight into the world of racing, as well as guests from the world of music and entertainment. Fans can tune in to hear Waltrip with breaking updates from the road or back at his newly opened Waltrip Raceworld shop in Cornelius, NC. In addition to being home to "Michael Waltrip Out Loud" show, XM will partner to become primary sponsor of Waltrip Racing's #99 Busch Series car driven by David Reutimann for the Chicagoland race July 14. XM is home to racing's biggest stars. In addition to Michael Waltrip's new show, NASCAR fans can catch exclusive shows from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.(XM Radio PR)(3-16-2007)
- Hyder back to work at MWR: Banished crew chief David Hyder has returned to the Michael Waltrip Racing shop, working on the cars while under indefinite suspension for the Daytona fuel scandal. NASCAR officials found an illegal fuel additive in Michael Waltrip's car before and after Daytona 500 qualifying Feb. 11, and the sanctioning body subsequently handed down a record $100,000 fine, as well as a 100-point penalty. "In the world outside of these [garage] gates, you're innocent until proven guilty," MWR Vice President Ty Norris said. "That's the world we live in, so we're just trying to figure out, still trying to investigate with all the fervor that we did before to figure out what is going on. He's working on these [No.] 55 cars, getting them set up and going to test at Kentucky." Norris said the investigation is continuing into exactly what the fuel additive was and how it got in the car. He said the team sent 15 different types of substances from its hauler to a lab and all came back as being legal. Norris said NASCAR has told them what chemical was illegal but he said his team was still trying to figure out where it came from. "We haven't been able to find out from anybody who knows anything about that particular type of substance to explain to us how or why that would happen or how or why it would leave a residue," Norris said. Norris also said he didn't believe it ended up helping with the qualifying attempt. "We slowed down a tenth with all of the qualifying oils and everything else," Norris said. "We slowed down the next day. I don't know why anybody thinks that it worked. We don't know what it was, we don't know what it was intended to do and we don't know where it was entered into the system."(SceneDaily.com)(3-10-2007)
- MWR Tests at Kentucky, talks about the season so far: Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip attempted to place their early-season performance and off-track problems in the past by fine tuning their #55 and #44 race machines during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway March 2. The much-heralded Michael Waltrip Racing trio of Jarrett, Waltrip and rookie David Reutimann in the team’s No. 00 entry were expected to be a strong link in Toyota’s Nextel Cup foundation, but have struggled out of the gate with personnel suspensions and race finishes outside the top 10. The overall average team finish through the first two series races of the season stands at 32 entering this Sunday’s race on the newly-configured 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“It’s not time to panic yet, it almost is. We’re going to make a few subtle changes and ramp up everything we do. Hopefully, we’ll show some steady improvement. We haven’t done a good job at the racetrack,” Waltrip said. It didn’t get any easier for the team Friday in Kentucky where Jarrett and Waltrip plowed through wind gusts as powerful as 32 mph while turning test laps. “I enjoy the track. A lot of people say it’s not a whole lot like anywhere we run, but it’s not a whole lot unlike a bunch of places we run,” Waltrip said. “It’s crazy how little time you get during a race weekend to learn and how much you try to squeeze into that little bit of time. Now, we’re able to relax and really, really tear apart the car, run, talk about it, analyze it and make it change. It’s a good way to learn systems and processes. We’re a new team and we really, really need to develop our process. I almost spun out once, so everybody knows I was trying hard. I was pretty happy with some of the stuff we did at the end. We want to be sure we’re smart going to Vegas. We’ll know what helped the car here and we’ll take that into consideration there and come up with a plan.”
Waltrip, who was a lightning rod for controversy when crew chief David Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy were suspended from the series indefinitely when an illegal fuel additive was associated with the #55 during Daytona 500 qualifying, opened the season with a 30th-place finish and failed to qualify for the Feb. 25 series event at California Speedway. “We had a terrible incident at Daytona with the fuel, whatever happened there. We still continue to internally look at every receipt and phone call and everything we can to figure out what happened. We’re not any closer today to knowing what happened than we did when we found it Sunday morning (at Daytona). We were shocked then and we’re still just digging for answers. That was a bad way to start. Then, we missed the California race by .040 of a second. People that hadn’t lost 462 races in a row like I did, they might’ve quit. We’re not going to quit,” Waltrip said. Waltrip cancelled a second session scheduled for Monday.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-6-2007)
- MWR suspended team members not allwowed ar COT test: While the two crew chiefs [#17-Robby Reiser & #9-Kenny Francis] served with four-week suspensions at Daytona International Speedway were free to come to Bristol Motor Speedway for the official "car of tomorrow" test, MWR's crew chief and vice president of competition were not. Their suspension over the use of an illegal fuel additive is more sweeping than the others. NASCAR officials also still have the #55 Toyota that was impounded at Daytona, but Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby says that is more a result of procedure than a sign that any investigation is ongoing. Darby also said that it is up to MWR officials to decide when to apply for reinstatement of David Hyder and Bobby Kennedy. "I don't know if we've got an exact timeline on it," Darby said. "A couple of weeks is obviously nowhere near long enough. The team will have the ability to apply for reinstatement for either one or both of the crew members in time. At the time of reapplication, if the feeling internally is that it still is not enough time, it will be denied. If we get through a long enough time period and maybe get a little more help on how the whole situation came together, we'll look at it at that point."(SceneDaily.com)(3-1-2007)
- NASCAR to announce #55 substance next week UPDATE 4 no release of name; property found in jet fuel: NASCAR is expected to announce next week at California what exactly they found in the fuel system of Michael Waltrip’s #55 Toyota Camry after Daytona 500 qualifying last Sunday. Waltrip’s car was found to have an unidentified, gel-like performance additive, which NASCAR inspectors have sent out for laboratory analysis. Results of the lab tests aren’t complete yet, said a source familiar with the investigation. Those results will be disclosed next week, most likely during the race weekend at California Speedway in Fontana. So far, all NASCAR has said specifically about the substance is that they know what it isn’t [jet fuel], not what it is. That will change soon. NASCAR officials also confirmed that the examination of Waltrip’s confiscated car is continuing. In 2000, when Jeremy Mayfield’s car was found to have tainted fuel at Talladega, it was nearly two weeks after his car failed inspection before test results of his fuel were made public.(SpeedTV.com)(2-17-2007)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials will not release the name of the substance, treating it as they would a failed drug test in which the name of the drug is not revealed. "It's nobody's business what it is," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition. "The bottom line is it's a foreign substance in the intake manifold."(ESPN.com)(2-18-2007)
UPDATE 2: ESPN's Terry Blount reported on Wednesday's NASCAR Now that NASCAR would NOT release the name of the substance found in the #55 intake manifold, treating it like any driver caught with substance abuse.(ESPN's NASCAR Now)(2-22-2007)
UPDATE 3: Michael Waltrip Racing vice president Ty Norris told ESPN.com Thursday that the company offered crew chief David Hyder an opportunity to come clean about the illegal additive found in the fuel system of Waltrip's Toyota following qualifying for the Daytona 500. Hyder didn't do it. In fact, he claims he can't. Norris said Hyder maintained his innocence -- even with the company promise of no termination in exchange for information. Norris said Hyder continues to say he has neither information nor answers as to what the substance is, how it was introduced into the fuel system or, ultimately, what it does. The crew chief was unavailable for comment Thursday. Hyder had been given an indefinite leave of absence with pay from Michael Waltrip Racing on top of his suspension by NASCAR. Norris said earlier this week that Hyder will not be allowed at the shop until it is determined if he had anything to do with the foreign substance that was found in Waltrip's engine during pre-qualifying inspection for last Sunday's 500. NASCAR suspended Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy indefinitely. Hyder also was fined $100,000 and Waltrip was penalized 100 championship points. A source close to the situation told ESPN.com last week that Hyder eventually will be fired.(ESPN.com)(2-22-2007)
UPDATE 4: Waltrip, who was docked 100 points, insists he doesn't know who tampered with his fuel and said NASCAR still hasn't told him what the substance was. A person familiar with the investigation told The AP the substance was a property found in jet fuel; NASCAR said only it wasn't jet fuel itself.(Associated Press)(2-24-2007)
- Waltrip: Team has 'circumstantial evidence,' no proof UPDATE more on Hyder: #55-Michael Waltrip spent the last week hoping someone would take responsibility for the fuel additive that led to NASCAR sanctions and prompted Toyota to re-evaluate its relationship with the two-time Daytona 500 winner. He's still waiting. "We just keep digging, digging, digging," Waltrip said Saturday. "Toyota's going to help us. A lot of people are going to help us. We're going to find out what happened. We have a lot of circumstantial evidence that implicates a couple of folks, but we don't have any proof. So we'll just keep digging until we find out what happened. When I was a kid and I did something wrong I would kind of see the writing on the wall. I'd say, 'Uh-oh. Things are getting tight around here.' And you'd fess up. No one's elected to do that." Waltrip added that if anyone is implicated in the cheating scandal, that person likely would be fired. "Somebody didn't get the company philosophy, which is we're going to beat them by working hard and working smart and not by cheating," he said. "I felt like I just had three kids and I was real proud of them, and one of my kids let me down, and you know how bad that hurts. In return, I let a lot of people down, because ultimately I'm responsible." Waltrip was docked 100 series points for tampering with fuel. Crew chief David Hyder was fined $100,000. Hyder and team director Bobby Kennedy also were kicked out of Daytona International Speedway. Waltrip's car was impounded, forcing him to miss two practice sessions and sending him into a backup ride for qualifying. Nonetheless, he drove his way into the Daytona 500 and will start 15th on Sunday. His #55 car sustained some damage in the qualifying race and was partly stripped down to the bare metal for Saturday's final practice -- Waltrip's first drafting practice at Daytona since October. "Time will tell what we're capable of," said Waltrip, who posted the slowest time Saturday. "I've done this with the haves, and I've done this with the have-nots. Our team feels a whole lot like the haves, and that makes me feel good."(Associated Press/ESPN.com)
UPDATE: David Hyder, crew chief for Michael Waltrip, has been placed on a paid leave of absence as the team continues to investigate the rules violation that resulted in Waltrip absorbing a $100,000 fine and the loss of 100 series points. Hyder and team director Bobby Kennedy were suspended indefinitely by NASCAR after inspectors discovered an unusual substance in the Waltrip #55-Toyota's intake manifold. NASCAR later said the team had used a fuel additive. MWR vice president Ty Norris said Kennedy remains at work at the team's shop and is assisting in the investigation into the violation. Norris said the team's internal investigation will continue "until we find out" the details of the situation. "It could be hours, days, weeks - we won't stop," he said. Waltrip and Norris are scheduled to meet with a group of Toyota executives in California Wednesday prior to next week's race at California Speedway. That meeting was scheduled prior to Waltrip's Daytona troubles. "That will be tough, but it's all been tough," Norris said. "No meeting has been easy - not talking with Brian France, John Darby, Robin Pemberton or Toyota or NAPA or Burger King or UPS or Domino's. It's been really tough, but when you're responsible for all, you can't just take the good. You have to take the bad. It's easy to be everybody's favorite son when everything is going well."(SceneDaily.com)(2-18-2007)
- Michael Waltrip's Statement: Michael Waltrip's statement regarding the NASCAR penalties handed down this evening to the #55 Michael Waltrip Racing entry: "In the past 12 months, Michael Waltrip Racing has hired more than 150 people and we currently employ more than 200. Although we have grown at an accelerated pace, it has been our mission to hire people with high moral value and character to properly represent our sponsors and our ownership. During preparations for the 2007 season and especially the 2007 Daytona 500, I specifically requested that our competition teams not disrespect NASCAR, our competitors or our sponsors by blatantly circumventing the rules. This is not the action of an organization, a manufacturer or a sponsor. This was an independent act done without consent or authorization from me or any of my executive management team. As an owner, I realize I am ultimately held responsible for the actions of my employees. Therefore, I accept the penalties issued tonight by NASCAR. I respect NASCAR's rules, its people and the sport's integrity, which is why I am so sad and embarrassed. I am dedicated to get to the bottom of this because I will not let the independent act of an individual or individuals tarnish the incredible accomplishment my organization has made to be where we are today. I want to apologize to the other owners, who know how hard I've worked to get here in such a short period of time, NASCAR, Toyota, NAPA, all my sponsors, the drivers and especially the fans."(MWR PR)(2-14-2007)
- Toyota issues warning to teams: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, was emphatic this [the #55 infraction and penalty] was a team issue and not a Toyota issue. While embarrassed over the incident, Toyota officials insisted they would maintain a relationship with MWR. "This is not the way you want to enter NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series by any means," said Jim Aust, the president and CEO of Toyota Racing Development. "For this to happen to him is extremely disappointing and extremely disappointing to Toyota. ... He has certainly apologized to just about anybody that would be associated with his organization. He's beside himself with what's happened." Toyota isn't resting on an [Waltrip] apology. Company officials are expected to send a letter out to all Toyota teams next week stating Waltrip's organization has used two of the company's three strikes. The next team that crosses the line will face the loss of the manufacturer's support. Lee White, the senior vice president for TRD, said TRD worked with NASCAR throughout the process. "I can honestly tell you from an ethics standpoint and integrity, along with character and honesty, those things are paramount in our company," he said. "We hold ourselves to a high standard and we hold our teams to high standards. We hope we've picked the right ones."(ESPN.com)
AND: Jim Aust, vice president or Toyota Racing Development, was asked if this was his worst nightmare. "I would say that's pretty close to accurate," Aust said. "This is a week we had looked forward to for many years. To begin this way certainly takes some of the limelight and happiness out of it." It also doesn't help the Toyota guys win over some NASCAR followers who didn't want them here in the first place. That marketing campaign just got a lot tougher.(ESPN.com)(2-14-2007)
- Waltrip announcement soon? UPDATE 2:: hearing that NASCAR will make an announcement soon fining the team $100,000, docking Waltrip 100 owner and driver points and suspending the crew chief, David Hyder, indefinitely. Waltrip will be able to run in the Gatorade Duel 150's but will start from the rear of the field.
UPDATE: the penalties to the #55 team:
Bobby Kennedy [MWR VP of Competition] and David Hyder [crew chief] ejected from track [Daytona] and suspended indefinitely
David Hyer fined $100,000
Michael Waltrip docked 100 driver points
Owner Buffy Waltrip docked 100 owenrs points
Michael Waltrip's qualifying time disallowed from Sunday's Daytona 500 qualfiying.
The substance was NOT jet fuel. Waltrip will be allowed to run the Gatorade Duel's in a back up car.(SPEED coverage of the NASCAR press conference). Scott Eggleston will be the interim crew chief for Waltrip. Eggleston won the Daytona 500 with Waltrip in 2001.
NASCAR Release: NASCAR announced Wednesday that it has confiscated the primary car of the #55 Toyota team that competes in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series with driver Michael Waltrip, as a result of rule violations found during pre- and post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500. Crew chief Larry (David) Hyder and the team’s vice president of competition Bobby Kennedy have been ejected from this week’s events at Daytona International Speedway and suspended indefinitely. Hyder also has been fined $100,000.
NASCAR also penalized Waltrip with the loss of 100 driver championship points. His qualifying time from pole day on Feb. 11 was disallowed. Team owner Elizabeth (Buffy) Waltrip has been penalized 100 car owner championship points.
The actions taken by NASCAR resulted from violations of 12- 4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-Q (car, car parts components and/or equipment not conforming to NASCAR rules) and 20-15.2C (gasoline must not be blended with alcohols, ethers or other oxygenates).
The confiscated car and the parts related to the violations will be transported to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. for further inspection. NASCAR said the investigation of the confiscated car is ongoing.(NASCAR PR)(2-14-2007)
UPDATE 2: A NASCAR source confirmed Hyder will be fired.(ESPN.com)(2-14-2007)
- Waltrip's crew chief suspended: David Hyder, the crew chief for Michael Waltrip, has been suspended indefinitely for infractions discovered on the #55 Toyota during Sunday's post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500. Further penalties against Waltrip's team will be announced at a press conference later on Wednesday. They are expected to be more severe than the two- and four-race suspensions of crew chiefs from four other teams that were announced on Tuesday. NASCAR chairman Brian France and president Mike Helton were among those that met with Waltrip and officials from Michael Waltrip Racing before Wednesday's first practice session. One official described the situation as "very serious." Lee White, the senior vice president for Toyota Racing Development that is making its Nextel Cup debut at Daytona, said he also planned to meet with Waltrip. "I wouldn't call it a setback, but it's disappointing for anyone that we partner with to have this happen in some form or fashion," he said. "We will talk with them to see where we need to go for the future." White said TRD has been working with NASCAR on the situation. "I can honestly tell you from an ethics standpoint and integrity, along with character and honesty, those things are paramount in our company," he said. "We hold ourselves to a high standard and we hold our teams to high standards. We hope we've picked the right ones."(ESPN.com)
ALSO: Bobby Kennedy, MWR's Director of Competition, was escorted out of the track at Daytona by NASCAR's Robin Pemberton.(2-14-2007)
UPDATE: SPEED is reporting an announcement is coming this afternoon, could be as soon as the last Cup practice of the day is run [around 3:00pm/et], hearing another report that the 'substance' could be jet fuel/aviation type fuel.(2-14-2007)
- #55 manifold confiscated; car impounded UPDATE 6 #00 reskin? have to use #32?: during pre-qualifying inspection, the intake manifold of the #55 NAPA Toyota of Michael Waltrip was confiscated by NASCAR, it didn't meet specifications and the team had to install another one.(SPEED's NASCAR Live), been told there was a substance on the inside of the manifold and it was taken away in a black bag, will be taken to NASCAR R&D center in Concord, NC to be examined, Waltrip's team was allowed to change engines, go thru tech inspection and make a qualifying attempt, Waltrip qualified 25th.(2-11-2007)
UPDATE: the #55 Toyota was impounded by NASCAR and Hunter said the car would be inspected 'with a fine tooth comb'.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(2-11-2007)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR impounded the #55 NAPA Toyota of driver/owner Michael Waltrip after qualifying. NASCAR officials confiscated the intake manifold off Waltrip's Camry during a prequalifying inspection. NASCAR officials don't know if Waltrip's car is illegal. Waltrip's fate is up in the air. Hunter said NASCAR officials decided to impound the car before qualifying, but allowed Waltrip to make a qualifying run after placing a new manifold on the car. Now NASCAR officials will inspect the entire car to determine if any violations exist. "Our inspectors will go over that car a with a fine-tooth comb," Hunter said. "I don't know how long we will keep it. As of right now, we do not know that the manifold is illegal, but we want to know." Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's director of competition, said officials sent the manifold to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., for testing Monday. "Our inspector caught a substance inside that we didn't really know what it was," Pemberton said about the manifold. Pemberton wouldn't give specifics about the problem, but Waltrip said inspectors found oil inside the manifold. "And it's not supposed to be there," Waltrip said. "So they took it to see why the oil was there. I don't really understand what is going on, and people here a lot smarter than me don't understand it either, but we'll figure it out. I'm sure it'll be fine." Hunter wasn't buying Waltrip's explanation. "Our inspection team was not comfortable that it was oil," Hunter said. Pemberton said the situation with the #55 problem was not specific to any individual manufacturer. (ESPN.com)(2-12-2007)
UPDATE 3: Waltrip's Toyota was impounded, with Hunter raising the possibility Waltrip will not be allowed to run that particular car in the 150s or the 500. "We'll go over that car with a fine-tooth comb ... and I don't know how long we'll keep it," Hunter said. Sterno? That's the horsepower trick that rivals suspect tripped up Waltrip when he was busted by NASCAR in the pre-qualifying inspection line for having some unknown "substance" in his intake manifold. NASCAR's Robin Pemberton, the vice president for competition, said that the manifold was being sent back the Concord R&D center for analysis. Presumably the substance could have been some type of oxidant, to provide a bit of horsepower for a short period of time. For years, stock-car teams have at times used such illegal chemical additives at Daytona and Talladega, where NASCAR severely restricts air to the engine, to limit speeds. Ty Norris, the general manager of Waltrip's team, insisted that it was not Sterno: "No, no, no, no. They found some oil in the manifold and said it shouldn't be there," Norris said. "They thought something was amiss. So we changed manifolds, and had the same issue. We showed NASCAR we thought it was blow-by engine oil.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-12-2007)
UPDATE 4: Waltrip told Marty Smith on ESPN's NASCAR Now that he will get the car back to practice on Wednesday and run the Gatorade Duel's 150. Smith also said that NASCAR told him penalties would not be announced until late Tuesday afternoon at the earliest or as late as Wednesday.(2-12-2007)
UPDATE 5: Marty Snider of Sirius NASCAR Radio, Ch 128 reported that NASCAR has not given the primary car back, has given no indication if the team will get the car back or any penalties, the #55 team is preparing the backup car from #00-Reutimann's team to practice today, which is scheduled to start at 12:00noon/et.(2-14-2007)
UPDATE 6: Sirius NASCAR Radio, Ch 128 had PRN's Mark Garrow on the Driver's Seat show this morning and reported that the team had taken a #44 Toyota is reskinning the car and putting the #32 on the car, soucres say the #55 team and Waltrip may be ejected. Waltrip bought the #32 owners points [going with the #00 team] and Cal Wells is listed as the #00 owner. AND MORE: Garrow is reporting that crew chief David Hyder is not at the track and SPEED's NASCAR Live reported that NASCAR fired up the engine and the substance reappeared, now NASCAR has put up a 50-foot perimeter to keep anyone out of the area and has pulled the engine out of the car and the car will not be #32, but is will keep the #55 and it is a Reutimann backup. Waltrip has declined interviews, probably will not be allowed to practice in the first practice. The team is still preparing the car. Also word around the garage is Waltrip could be suspended a few races and crew chief Hyder suspended as long as the full season.(2-14-2007)
- Testing at Nashville: been told #55-Michael Waltrip, #00-David Reutimann and #31-Jeff Burton were testing on Wednesday, Dec 13th at Nashville Superspeedway AND also....Darrell Waltrip was helping brother Michael by testing a Toyota Camry.(12-14-2006)
- Borland, Carter, Hyder named crew chiefs at Michael Waltrip Racing: Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Matt Borland, Larry Carter and David Hyder have been named crew chiefs of the organization for the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season. Borland has been designated as crew chief of the #44 UPS Toyota with former champion Dale Jarrett. Carter will reside as crew chief of the #00 Toyota co-sponsored by Burger King and Domino's Pizza driver David Reutimann. Michael Waltrip has assigned Hyder as crew chief of his #55 NAPA Toyota. “We are pleased to announce our crew chiefs today,” Waltrip said. “We concentrated on pairing personalities to find the perfect qualified individuals for each position. Matt is a proven winner and we’re proud to have him steering the #44 UPS Toyota team. I’ve known David for a while and look forward to him leading the NAPA team. I love his enthusiasm and the
way he thinks. Obviously, Larry was vitally important in building our teams and I know he will be instrumental in building David Reutimann’s future while driving his Toyota co-sponsored by Burger King and Domino's Pizza. We are fortunate to have all three of them under one roof.”
Borland led #12-Ryan Newman to 12 wins, 37 poles, 54 top-fives, 83 top-10s in 186 Nextel Cup Series starts. The 35-year-old joined Penske Racing South in November 1999 originally as an engineer. In 2001, Borland was then instrumental in his driver’s success as he participated in a combination schedule in the ARCA, Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series. Borland looked on as Newman amassed eight poles, two wins, five top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes. In Borland’s first full-time season in the Nextel Cup Series as a crew chief, he claimed one win, six pole awards, 14 top-five and 22 top-10s. Borland, also received trophies from winning The Winston and his driver clinched the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title and finished sixth in the championship standings. After years of success with Penske Racing South, Borland makes the move to Michael Waltrip Racing. “I’m looking forward to making a new home at Michael Waltrip Racing and working with Dale Jarrett,” Borland said. “Dale is a champion and he has a ton of respect in the garage. He’s obviously proven himself as a driver. Also, Toyota will be great to work with. I think Toyota is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturers.”
There are a lot of smart, innovative individuals in the Nextel Cup Series and I am thrilled that Michael Waltrip Racing was able to secure one of the best in Matt Borland,” Jarrett said. “He's obviously had a lot of success in the few years he's been in this position. I think Christmas came a little early for Michael Waltrip Racing and myself. This announcement just adds to my excitement about 2007. I think he'll truly be a valuable asset to this #44 UPS Toyota team and will complement Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole.”
“Dale expressed his ideal crew chief was someone like Matt Borland,” Waltrip added. “We were actually able to deliver Matt Borland.
Matt’s spirit and determination will permeate throughout our shop.”
Carter aligned with Michael Waltrip Racing after a successful stint as Rusty Wallace’s crew chief at Penske Racing South. Joining Penske in 2004, Carter led Wallace to his 55th career victory in April of that year at Martinsville Speedway, snapping a 105-race winless streak for Wallace. It was only his 10th race with Wallace, whose last Nextel Cup Series win was in 2001 at California Speedway. Carter has been an integral part of Michael Waltrip Racing’s growth. “We’ve set some realistic goals and assembled a solid
team,” Carter said. “ David Reutimann is very talented and we’re going to have a lot of fun working with him. He’s been fast at all the tests and I think he’ll do well next year. Fortunately, we were able to run five races last season with Bill Elliott to help prepare us for 2007.”
“I’ve known of Larry for years, but I’ve just recently got to know him,” Reutimann said. “I’m real happy to have him in my corner. I needed a veteran crew chief to help me through everything I will experience as a rookie. We get along great and I know we will have success together.”
“David’s plate will be full this year and Larry’s extensive experience and knowledge of the sport will help David in his first year as a Nextel Cup Series competitor,” Waltrip added. He will be able to help David’s rookie season run smoothly.”
Hyder brings a different aspect to MichaelWaltrip Racing with having nearly 20 years of experience as a Late Model driver with close to 100 victories. In 1999, he stopped driving and building his own cars and joined Petty Enterprises as a mechanic. Almost three years later, he became a car chief for the Petty’s in the Nextel Cup Series. At the end of the 2004 season, he transitioned from being a car chief at Petty Enterprises to becoming a crew chief at BAM Racing with driver Ken Schrader. In 2006, Hyder was named crew chief of the #21 Nextel Cup Series entry at Wood Brothers. Midseason, the High Point-N.C. native returned to BAM Racing. Waltrip approached Hyder not long after. “Michael has the same mentality as other drivers I’ve worked with,” Hyder said. “Michael approached me at the end of the 2006 season and asked me what I was going to do the next season. He gauged my interest in being his crew chief. I got really excited about everything he has planned for his race team and I accepted.” “David was someone that I was interested in from the beginning because he speaks my language,” Waltrip said. “He’s someone that has built and raced cars his whole life. He has a respect and knowledge for engineering, which coupled with Borland’s engineering background, we hope to continue our creation of a strong team atmosphere.”(MWR PR)(12-8-2006)
- Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Debuts on ESPN2: NASCAR fans will get inside access to Nextel Cup team Michael Waltrip Racing [#00, #44, #55] in the all new television series Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era, part of ESPN2 Garage, debuting this Sunday, Dec. 10, at 10:00pm/et on ESPN2. Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era is an 11-episode, documentary television series that chronicles Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota’s new partnership in the Nextel Cup Series. In the premiere episode, Waltrip breaks ground at his new fabrication shop and announces to his staff that ESPN2 will document all of the exciting developments for the new race team. He also visits Toyota Racing Development to see the new Toyota Camry stock car and Toyota executives explain why the company is partnering with the team and entering Nextel Cup racing. “This show was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to build a race team and give the fans an inside look into everything that goes into it,” said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. “From hiring the crew, to applying information about rules and competition, and seeing how it all comes together - that’s what this story is about.”
Waltrip takes on the daunting task of creating a new Nextel Cup team with new manufacturer, Toyota, with just months before their Nextel Cup Camry debuts in the Daytona 500. In June 2006, Michael Waltrip Racing opened its new race shop in Mooresville, NC, and the rookie race team has been hard at work building and perfecting the first 200-mph Toyota Camry. “The creation of Michael Waltrip Racing is a tremendous undertaking and we’ve got a lot of people invested in seeing us grow and succeed,” added Waltrip. “The 2007 season is when we open the curtains on the world and everyone will get the chance to see what we’ve been doing this last year. Not only are we working hard, but we’re working smart. Starting Dec. 10, fans can follow the story just like I’ve been living it the last year.”
Waltrip is challenged to find sponsors, hire his entire crew and two drivers, and build a fleet of race cars – giving viewers the true-life drama of creating a new championship race team. "This is a series that will give NASCAR fans real insight into the complex process of assembling a racing team,” said ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions Julie Sobieski. “It will be educational and informative but with a personality like Michael Waltrip involved, it will also be very entertaining."
MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING: A NEW ERA on ESPN2
July – tbd, final episode
- Waltrip Raceworld on Track, crew chiefs to be announced soon: Michael Waltrip has a huge undertaking with Michael Waltrip Racing and Waltrip Raceworld (formerly called Waltrip Racing World). Waltrip does not foresee anything that will slow down progress, but if something does come up he’s prepared. “We mapped out a plan with a timeline to monitor our progress,” Waltrip said. “We are at a very good place. There
have been many challenges and I know there will be more. I have been racing my whole life and it has always been about adapting to change. That mentality has helped our organization grow from a plan to a reality.” Finding quality crew members that have chemistry obviously plays a large part in the success of any racing organization and Michael Waltrip Racing’s competition department has been hiring daily. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, crew chiefs will be announced and over-the-wall teams will be assembled. “Over the next week or so, we will announce our team rosters including crew chiefs,” Waltrip said. “By mid-January, we will be operating exclusively out of Waltrip Raceworld (former movie theater). As Michael Waltrip Racing continues their hiring process and Waltrip Raceworld becomes a reality, SPEED Channel is holding auditions for its own reality show called SPEED Road Tour Challenge at Michael Waltrip Racing’s fabrication shop (19340 Liverpool Parkway, Cornelius, NC 28031) on December 9th and 10th. SPEED is looking for four NASCAR fans to travel to 13 races from Daytona to Charlotte. The four participants will compete for a prize package, which includes a 2007 Toyota Tundra and an offer to join the SPEED Road Tour crew for the remainder of the season.(MWR PR)(12-4-2006)
- Mikey to run Truck race at Homestead: Darrell Waltrip Motorsports organization plans to field a second truck with Michael Waltrip and the #12 Jani-King Toyota Tundra at Homestead. ALSO Michael Waltrip Racing, Inc. has announced that Josh Wise, who was crowned the 2006 USAC National Sprint Car Series champion on Saturday night, will drive in a variety of series for the organization in 2007. Josh will run in a variety of venues for Michael Waltrip Racing including the Craftsman Truck Series and ARCA as well as the short track racing.(MWR PR)(11-14-2006)
- Trust fund set up for #55 jackman's family: A trust fund has been established for the children of the late Steve Spahr, a longtime Bill Davis Racing employee, who died last Friday. Spahr has been working as a jackman on the #55 Waltrip-Jasper Racing team that has an affiliation with BDR this season. Fans can contribute to the Trust Fund for Jenna and Hailey Spahr, BB&T, 2835 Randleman Road, Greensboro, N.C., 27406. Spahr, 48, had recently undergone surgery for a tear of the aorta and was recovering at home when he died.(SceneDaily.com)(11-2-2006)
- Sad News - #55 Jackman passes: Bill Davis Racing statement on the passing ofr Steve Spahr, #55 NAPA Team Jackman: "Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with Steve's family," said Bill Davis, owner of Bill Davis Racing. "Steve was an important part of the Bill Davis Racing family for many, many years. He was a quiet mentor to his peers and was both respected and well-liked by everyone on our race team and many others within the Nextel Cup garage. He will be missed and remembered fondly by everyone associated with our team." Spahr, 48, worked both at the shop and at the track performing a wide range of tasks from engine tuning to suspension work in the shop and in the past had served as the jackman for the #22 team. Most recently, Spahr was the jackman for the #55 NAPA Racing team. A long-time employee of Bill Davis Racing, Spahr had recently been hospitalized with a tear of the aorta and had undergone surgery in the Greensboro, N.C. area. Spahr was recovering at home with his family when he passed away suddenly Friday evening.(BDR PR)(10-26-2006)
- #55 Crew Chief Fined: NASCAR announced today that Tommy Baldwin Jr., crew chief for Michael Waltrip’s #55 Dodge Nextel Cup Series team, has been fined $5,000 for rule violations during last Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. The fine resulted from violations of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used in the event that do not conform to NASCAR rules); 20-17B(3) (entering the car servicing area without a fire-resistant uniform); and 20-17.1A(3) (entering the car servicing area without a helmet) of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book.(NASCAR PR)(10-25-2006)
- Mikey cutting some grass: On Wednesday, October 4th, #55-Michael Waltrip will be trading in his fire suit for a lawn pro suit as he mows the lawn of avid drag racer and NASCAR fan Janice Sipes. Ms. Sipes won the opportunity to have Waltrip and a team of lawn care professionals manicure her family's lawn as part of the Yard-Man "Honey, Is that Michael Waltrip Mowing our Lawn?" sweepstakes. Not only will Ms. Sipes have her lawn mowed, but she and her family and friends will have the opportunity to meet the NASCAR veteran in a private meet and greet as well as test their driving skills against him on NASCAR simulators. In addition to a finely manicured lawn - and neighborhood bragging rights - the Sipes family will receive a full garage of lawn, garden and power equipment courtesy of the Yard-Man #66 racing team.(PR)(10-4-2006)
- Waltrip Racing - 2006 Softball Champs: Waltrip Racing clinched their first-ever Totally Racin’ Softball League championship last night at Walter Safrit Park in Kannapolis (NC). The team, consisting of crew members from both Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing led by Coach Scott Stallings, won three of four games outclassing Chip Ganassi Racing and Evernham Motorsports to win the title. 2006 Tournament Scores from Tuesday, September 19th: · Chip Ganassi Racing 13 vs. Waltrip Racing 12 · Evernham Motorsports 14 vs. Waltrip Racing 15 · Chip Ganassi Racing 7 vs. Waltrip Racing 16 · Chip Ganassi Racing 11 vs. Waltrip Racing 12.(MWR PR), see an image of the team and more info at racecityresumes.com/softball/.(9-21-2006)
- Domino's to be primary sponsor for Waltrip at Michigan UPDATE: Domino’s Pizza appear as the primary Nextel Cup Series team sponsor of racing veteran, #55-Michael Waltrip August 18-20 at Michigan International Speedway. Waltrip will be the first driver to compete in a Domino’s Pizza Nextel Cup car [since the late 1980's] when he takes the wheel of the #55 Domino’s Pizza vehicle next Friday [in practrice and qualifying]. As part of its 2006 motorsports program, Domino’s Pizza has been, and will continue to be an associate sponsor of Waltrip’s #55 Nextel Cup Series team. Waltrip previously carried the Domino’s Pizza banner as his primary sponsor of his #99 Busch Series team twice in 2005 and once in 2004. Domino’s partnerships extend to Michigan International Speedway, branded “MIS Delivered by Domino’s Pizza” and will feature fan entertainment, displays, signage, product sampling and guest hospitality throughout the race weekend. More information on the Company can be found on the web at www.dominos.com.(Domino's/Clear!Blue PR), see an image of the car on my #55 Team Schemes page.(8-13-2006)
UPDATE: Waltrip will also act as at-track spokesperson for Domino’s as it announces a new dessert item – Brownie Squares – to its menu. Domino’s will give out approximately 60,000 Brownie Squares to NASCAR teams and race fans attending this weekend’s race activities. Available in most Domino’s stores starting this week and nationwide beginning August 21, Domino’s customers who order a large pizza at regular menu price will receive an order of Domino’s new oven baked Brownie Squares absolutely free.(Domino's/Clear!Blue PR)(8-17-2006)
- Baldwin new crew chief for Waltrip: Tommy Baldwin, recently hired by Bill Davis Racing to oversee competition, is now serving as crew chief for Michael Waltrip in his #55 Waltrip-Jasper Racing Dodge in the Nextel Cup Series. Waltrip had been using Joe Shear as a crew chief since Charlotte in May. "I have a new crew chief with Tommy Baldwin on the box," Waltrip said during a teleconference Tuesday. "Tommy has really taken over the NAPA car, and hopefully this weekend, his signature or his presence will be something that will help us continue going at the level that we are used to. In the two weeks we've had him, he's made a very big difference for our team," Waltrip said. "He's a proven crew chief and knows the ins and outs of a race car. I have the utmost confidence in him and the decisions he makes in the NAPA pit. It's comforting to me as a driver to know that I have someone as knowledgeable as Tommy on the other end of the radio so that I can concentrate on doing my job on the track."(SceneDaily.com)(8-16-2006)
- Reutimann and Wallace win at Night of Stars races: David Reutimann won the first of two 10-lap Dirt Modified shootouts during Ken Schrader’s annual M&M’s Night of Stars at I-55 Raceway Wednesday night. Kenny Wallace won the the second race.(MWR PR)
Heat 1 Results: David Reutimann; Ken Schrader; Kenny Wallace; Matt Kenseth; Rick Crawford; Brendon Gaughan; Martin Truex Jr; and Steven Wallace.
Heat 2 Results: Kenny Wallace, Ken Schrader, Rick Crawford, Matt Kenseth, David Reutimann, Steven Wallace; Martin Truex Jr, and Brenden Gaughan(8-4-2006)
- #44 UPS Toyota in 2007? The UPS-sponsored Toyota Camry that Dale Jarrett will drive in 2007 for Michael Waltrip Racing might be the #44. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter confirmed Sunday that Waltrip has expressed interest in acquiring the number. Terry Labonte has run the #44 on a limited basis this season for Hendrick Motorsports. But Petty Enterprises, the last team to the run the number on a full-time basis, still has a say in where it goes. "I know Michael is wanting it," said Robbie Loomis, Petty Enterprises' executive vice president of race operations. "It will really be up to Kyle and Richard [Petty]. If it's something that they feel warranted that we might need for the future, then I'm sure we'll keep it. Otherwise, they see the big picture of the sport. And if it's good for Michael and good for the other people involved, then we'll probably end up turning it over." Waltrip also has inquired about the #33. But car owner Richard Childress indicated he is unwilling to part with the number he campaigned in three races last season with Kerry Earnhardt behind the wheel.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)...and the #33 could be used if Childress expands to a 4-car team as had been rumored.(7-17-2006)
- Ward Burton...MWR? "Is it a coup for our team? I guess it's fair to say it is," Michael Waltrip said of the new two-year UPS sponsorship, which he said now sets the stage for a three-car, Nextel Cup operation. "We don't have it done yet, but we think we'll be able to announce in the next week or two who the driver will be," Waltrip said of Team Three, which will be jointly sponsored by Burger King and Pizza Hut [actually the sponsor is Domino's Pizza]. And it could very well be Ward Burton, the 2002 Daytona 500 winner, idle this season, Waltrip said.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-8-2006)
- Latest on UPS UPDATE 2 Official to MWR: looks like after all the runors that have been floating with UPS [#9-Kahne, #19-Mayfield, #16-Biffle, #88-RYR] that UPS will announced this weekend in Chicago that is will stay with Dale Jarrett and move to the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Jarrett will drive in 2007 and leave the #88 RYR Ford.(7-4-2006)
UPDATE: there is a scheduled UPS Racing Announcement on Friday, July 7, 2006 at Chicagoland Speedway.(PR)(7-6-2006)
UPDATE 2: UPS announced a two-year agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing to sponsor driver Dale Jarrett in a Toyota Camry for the 2007 and 2008 seasons of the Nextel Cup Series. The announcement at the Chicagoland Speedway comes after Jarrett agreed earlier this year to move to the Waltrip organization and race a Camry starting with the 2007 Daytona 500. "Dale Jarrett has been an outstanding ambassador for the UPS brand both on and off the track and we expect more great things to come as we join him at Michael Waltrip Racing as the sponsor of his Toyota Camry," said Patrick Guilbert, vice president of sponsorships for UPS. "Since our relationship with Dale began in 2001, his contributions have helped UPS build a powerful sponsorship program that resonates with our employees, customers and NASCAR fans alike." The decision to join Michael Waltrip Racing places UPS among the first sponsors to adorn a Toyota Camry in 2007, which is the manufacturer's inaugural season in the Nextel Cup Series.
"The UPS name also is synonymous with speed and that's what Michael Waltrip Racing intends to deliver to UPS and Dale with the new UPS Toyota Camry," said owner Michael Waltrip. "From a business perspective, the addition of UPS expands our resources, which enables us to build the best teams and in turn grow our organization at a pace that will enhance our ability to win races." UPS will continue its sponsorship of Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing through the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season.(UPS Site)(7-7-2006)
- UPS to the #9? or #16? UPDATE 6 - denied to Roush, announcement on Friday?: hearing UPS will leave the #88 Robert Yates Racing team and go to the #9 Evernham Dodge with driver Kasey Kahne.(6-8-2006)
UPDATE: On the sponsor front, sources in the garage indicate that UPS will be moving from #88 Robert Yates Racing to one of two teams in 2007, either the #9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge driven by Kasey Kahne or the #16 Roush Racing Ford driven by Greg Biffle.(Speed Channel)(6-10-2006)
UPDATE 2: It appears UPS is still in play as a major sponsor. In the past two years the winner in the sponsor hunt has been Evernham Motorsports. UPS may add itself to the list of Evernham conquests signing as the primary sponsor of the #9 Dodge driven by Kasey Kahne. Then again, it is said the Dodge Dealers aren't willing to vacate their position on Kahne's ride. The dealers might be willing to let loose of the #19 driven by Jeremy Mayfield. However, it’s not clear Mayfield would be the driver of choice for UPS.(Circletrackplus.com)(6-11-2006)
UPDATE 3 - to #16? hearing that UPS is going to be on the #16 Roush Racing Ford with driver Greg Biffle in 2007.(6-20-2006)
UPDATE 4: hearing the announcement of where the UPS sponsorship will go, could be as soon as Friday, June 23rd or at sometime this weekend in Sonoma.(6-21-2006)
UPDATE 5: folks at Roush Racing have denied that UPS will sponsor any of their teams in 2007.(6-21-2006)
ANOTHER UPDATE: Car owner Ray Evernham had until last Friday to convince Dodge officials to allow UPS to sponsor Kasey Kahne's Dodge next year, and apparently he couldn't do it. That means UPS will sponsor Greg Biffle's Ford next year.(Augusta Chronicle)(6-22-2006)
- Waltrip to make 2007 sponsor announcement this weekend..Domino's? BK? UPDATE 2: On Speed Channel's Inside Nextel Cup, Michael Waltrip said he would be making a sponsor announcement for the 2007 season for his Toyota team this weekend [at MIS]. Ken Schrader asked why not now [on the show], Waltrip said the paperwork isn't signed yet in which Schrader asked if there was a chance it wouldn't get signed; Waltrip responded: "Domino's Delivers" and then "Have it Your Way" the motto for Burger King,(6-13-2006)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip will make an announcement about the future of Michael Waltrip Racing on Sunday morning, June 18th at MIS.(6-17-2006)
UPDATE 2 - The Announcement: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced Sunday it has formed a unique partnership with two marquee brands – Domino's Pizza and Burger King Corporation to be co-primary sponsors of its second 2007 Nextel Cup Series team. "When we first approached Burger King and Domino's Pizza, we knew we were thinking outside of the box and didn't know if two food brands would be willing to work together to sponsor the same team," said Michael Waltrip. "We took the risk and are very excited to have two of the world's most recognized brands sponsoring the #00 Nextel Cup team."
"It's not unusual for two or more sponsors to split a sponsorship season," said Ty Norris, General Manager for Michael Waltrip Racing. "However, this is the first time that two companies within the same industry agreed to be sponsors of the same car during the same season. This is another example of the unprecedented approach Michael Waltrip Racing is taking to becoming a multi-car Nextel Cup team organization."
Domino's will kick off the  season at the Daytona 500 and continue as the primary sponsor through the May race in Darlington, SC. A Domino's paint scheme will also adorn the #00 Toyota Camry at the August Nextel Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Domino's will deliver its final five races during the Chase for the Nextel Cup Series championship. The #00-Burger King Toyota Camry will hit the track Memorial Day weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC, and cap off the regular season under the lights at Richmond International Raceway. Five Chase for the Nextel Cup races, including the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will feature the Burger King paint scheme. The split-season sponsorship allows Domino's and Burger King to continue their respective relationships with Michael Waltrip Racing, while positioning both companies at the forefront of the changing motorsports industry. The team along with input from both sponsors is in negotiations to secure a driver and will make a separate announcement once a driver has been determined. "I hope we find a driver who likes to eat," said Waltrip. "I've had an opportunity to work with both Domino's Pizza and Burger King in the past and believe we're delivering a race team the fans will love."
Domino's, the Official Pizza of NASCAR, partnered with MWR three times in 2005 as the primary sponsor on Waltrip's #99 Busch Series car and will be the primary sponsor of Waltrip's #55 Nextel Cup Series car at the Michigan International Speedway race in August . Burger King recently announced plans to join MWR for a partial season in 2006, sponsoring the #00 Nextel Cup car for five races beginning in July at Chicagoland Speedway [with Bill Elliott driving](Michael Waltrip Racing PR)
AND But the driver? It could be Dale Jarrett. Or it could be someone else. The announcement of Burger King and Domino's could open the door for UPS to back a third Michael Waltrip Racing team with Jarrett as driver. "We want three teams," Waltrip said. "That's our goal. Until we define the third sponsor, we're not able to say who's going to drive the third car." Last month, Waltrip announced Jarrett would join his team. UPS is said to be shopping its sponsorship and could follow Jarrett, stay with Robert Yates Racing or go to another team [#9? #16?]. Ty Norris, vice president and general manager of Michael Waltrip Racing, said the team has set a deadline of mid-July on whether it will have three teams.(SceneDaily.com)(6-18-2006)
- Waltrip discusses Busch plans and new shop: Michael Waltrip Racing officials state the team is not severing its partnership with FitzBradshaw Racing, according to a news release distributed Saturday. Published reports questioned the continuation of that relationship, but team owner Waltrip said that is not true. "I think a lot of people got confused when we took the opportunity to move our Nextel Cup operation down the road to Jimmy Spencer's old shop," Waltrip said in the release. Waltrip added that his Busch Series program remains at the FitzBradshaw shop in Mooresville. He plans to remain with the group through the completion of
this season, which was the original contract.(NASCAR Scene)
AND "I think a lot of people got confused when we took the opportunity to move our NEXTEL Cup operation down the road to Jimmy Spencer's old shop," said Waltrip. "We saw an opportunity to give Larry Carter and his team working on the Burger King Chevrolets, a location that allows them to stay totally focused on preparing for our upcoming five Cup races with Bill Elliott in 2006. Our Busch Series program, along with our Marketing, Licensing and Business Affairs departments remain at Fitz-Bradshaw in Mooresville, NC. Last Fall we partnered with Armando Fitz for the entire 2006 season and that won't change." While everything is status-quo with Waltrip's 2006 programs, there is eager anticipation for 2007. In just a few weeks, the first phase of Waltrip Racing World will open for Toyota's entry into the Nextel Cup Series. Waltrip Racing World, scheduled to open to the public mid 2007, is a fan destination complete with entertainment and interactive experiences. It will also house all of Michael Waltrip Racing's Toyota backed teams. "Phase One of Waltrip Racing World is essentially our fabrication and manufacturing facility," Waltrip said. "In some ways it could be viewed as the heart and soul of our entire campus. Our first Toyota Camry was completed last week and we will build many more at the new location. This building is exclusively dedicated to the preparation, testing, development and eventually racing of our 2007 Camry's."(MWR PR)(6-11-2006)
- MWR Names New VP: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Robert B. Brannan III (Bob) will be the Vice President of Licensing for the Nextel Cup Series multi-team operation, which will field Toyota Camrys in 2007. Brannan brings a wealth of financial and licensing expertise to Michael Waltrip Racing. He has a long list of credits and most recently was the President of Cabarrus Bank & Trust in Concord, N.C.(Michael Waltrip Racing PR)(5-30-2006)
- Waltrip fails to make the Coke 600...buying Cope ride to run race: #55-Michael Waltrip’s string of 261 consecutive Cup appeared to come to a halt Thursday night, when he failed to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600, turning in a dreadfully slow qualifying lap more than 8 mph off the pole speed. He last failed to qualify for a Cup race in Oct. 1998 at Phoenix. But he apparently will purchase a starting spot from #74-Derrike Cope, with details expected to be announced later.(Speed Channel)
AND Michael Waltrip's consecutive start streak of 261 races will get to 262. Waltrip's Waltrip-Jasper Racing has bought the ride of the #74 McGlynn Racing Dodge and driver Derrike Cope for the Coca-Cola 600, according to a Waltrip team spokesman. The car will have the NAPA logo on the car and might carry the #55. The owner points goes to McGlynn and not to Waltrip, whose team sits 36th in owner points and likely will drop following the race. Waltrip likely will put a new engine in the car but must use the car Cope qualified in the event. Waltrip ranks sixth in consecutive starts among Nextel Cup drivers [see list on my stats page].(SceneDaily.com)(5-26-2006)
UPDATE: Officials with Michael Waltrip Racing confirmed Friday that Waltrip has purchased the #74 Dodge of McGlynn Racing/Derrike Cope, who had taken the final spot in the 43-car field during Thursday night's qualifying for the longest race in the Nextel Cup Series. The car will be repainted bearing Waltrip's #55 and all of his sponsors, including primary sponsor NAPA. Waltrip would receive any driver points earned Sunday while the #74 team [not the #55 team] would receive the corresponding owner points.(NASCAR.com)(5-27-2006)
- Mayfield to Davis? Waltrip? UPDATE no way: #19-Jeremy Mayfield is also in middle of a lot of Toyota talk, perhaps leaving Ray Evernham to take a Toyota ride next season with [#22/23] Bill Davis, perhaps even taking a third Toyota ride with Waltrip, who indicated last week that he had a third major sponsor in the works.(Winston Salem Journal), but Mayfield re-upped with Evernham last year and is supposedly signed thru 2008.(5-21-2006)
UPDATE: #19-Jeremy Mayfield says he working hard to help his team turn around their 2006 season and denies garage area gossip he's looking for another ride. Mayfield told PRN's Garagepass; "As far as me out looking that's defiantly not true, I haven't been out looking nowhere for nothing. I have a contract with Ray (Evernham) I'm driving for Ray and Dodge. My head has been down working on our own stuff trying to get our own stuff better. Our deal is hard enough as it is let alone start throwing the rumors and all that stuff around."(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-24-2006)
- More help for Waltrip: Joe Shear, crew chief for the #43 Curb-Agajanian Motorsports Busch Series team, is in the Nextel Cup garage this weekend helping with the #55 Waltrip-Jasper Racing car and driver Michael Waltrip. Shear said he was working as crew chief for the team for the Nextel Open, but beyond that nothing has been solidified.(SceneDaily.com)(5-20-2006)
- Third Waltrip car? UPDATE 2 well...maybe: hearing that Michael Waltrip Racing [MWR] may field a third Nextel Cup team in 2007, could be part-time, with Burger King and Domino's Pizza as the sponsor. That is if UPS or another sponsor team up with Waltrip's Toyota that Dale Jarrett will run in 2007.(5-15-2006)
UPDATE: According to MWR spokeswoman Brooke Hondros, the team does not presently plan to field three Nextel Cup Series teams in 2007. Hondros said MWR is preparing two Nextel Cup teams and two Busch Series teams, all of which will run Toyota Camrys.(NASCAR.com/Marty Smith)(5-16-2006)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip says he could expand his Toyota Cup operation to three teams next season. Waltrip is set for at least two teams. He and Dale Jarrett will be the drivers. "We'd like to have three teams," Waltrip said at Darlington. "We think that'll give us the best chance to compete against the guys who are winning races now. There's a timetable that will come into play. ... We could start a third team if we could get another sponsor."(Roanoke Times)(5-17-2006)
- Jarrett announcement this weekend? OFFICAL Jarrett to Waltrip/Toyota: hearing that #88-Dale Jarrett could make his announcement going to Toyota/Michael Waltrip Racing as soon as this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Waltrip is scheduled to make a live announcement on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live, Saturday, May 13th at 12:30pm/et...maybe....(5-12-2006)
OFFICIAL: it was announced on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live at 12:32pm/et that Dale Jarrett, current driver of the #88 UPS Ford for Robert Yates Racing will drive a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007, no word on sponsor, car number, etc. AND see a transcript of the announcement at FoxSports.com: SPEED Q&A: Waltrip's Toyota team signs Jarrett to two-year deal
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip, owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, Incorporated, announced today that former NASCAR champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner, Dale Jarrett, is joining the organization to drive the team's second Toyota entry in the NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup Series beginning in 2007. "When we began building Michael Waltrip Racing, I knew the key to success was bringing in quality people," Waltrip explained. "Ty Norris has been instrumental on the business side, just as Larry Carter and Bobby Kennedy have been on the competition side. By hiring Dale, we have yet another example of the importance we are placing on securing
first-rate individuals for our program."
"Dale's resume speaks for itself," continued Waltrip. "To have a NASCAR champion on our team is another significant piece of the puzzle that pulls together our vision. I know his knowledge and experience will be invaluable for a start-up team with a new manufacturer and will allow our organization to grow and succeed at a faster pace." Jarrett is a well-known veteran of the Nextel Cup Series. He established himself as a perennial championship contender in the mid-90s, finishing in the top-10 in championship points for seven consecutive seasons and winning the series title in 1999. Jarrett has 32 career Nextel Cup Series victories, including the aforementioned three Daytona 500 wins and two in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His resume also includes being named to NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers list.
"My tenure at Robert Yates Racing has been extremely important to me, my family and my career," Jarrett said. "We accomplished a lot together during the past 12 years and I am thankful to Robert and everyone at RYR and Ford Motor Company for the opportunities they afforded me and the success we have all shared. This was a very difficult decision. I feel this is a great opportunity for me to take on a new challenge and what they are building at Michael Waltrip Racing fits my plans for the future."
"My decision to join Michael Waltrip Racing is based solely on a competitor's perspective," Jarrett continued. "What Michael has pulled
together is impressive and I want to be a part of it. The Daytona 500 might seem far away, but for a race team it is right around the corner. Michael's team is building cars now, their core management team is in place, the competition department is established and sponsors are locked up. From that perspective, it doesn't feel like I am going to a brand new team."
"Toyota's strategic entry into NASCAR has been equally impressive," said Jarrett. "The mark they have made in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the last three years is reason enough to want to be part of their entrance into the Cup Series." Waltrip is the first of the three Toyota team owners to solidify their 2007 Nextel Cup Series drivers.(MWR PR)(5-13-2006)
- Waltrip discusses Jarrett: Michael Waltrip says he and several other teams have talked with Dale Jarrett about his future plans; however Waltrip downplays a report Jarrett was offered a two year, $10-million contract [see below] to join his Toyota team. “I haven’t made him any offer monetarily and I think I’m pretty sure I can tell you no one has offered him that (10-million) but it makes for pretty good print.” Waltrip said he’s more interested in Jarrett’s services than sponsor UPS. “We have our second car pretty much agreed upon with the sponsor and we’ve got a list of drivers that would be approved by the sponsor and he’s on that list. Anybody would hire Dale Jarrett, former cup champion and his sponsor UPS. We just want to hire Dale because we think he can win races and because that being our focus and the reason our drive for hiring him then I think he appreciates that."(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-4-2006)
- Changes at the #55 team: #55-Michael Waltrip heads into Richmond International Raceway this weekend looking for a little magic to get the #55 NAPA Dodge back into the top-35 in NASCAR owner's points. This obviously isn't where we had hoped to be coming into the 10th race of 2006," said Waltrip. "In an effort to address the situation, we decided to make some changes." Waltrip has brought in NASCAR veterans Bobby Kennedy, Larry Carter and Jason Oversteet to work on the car and call the race. Derrick Finley will reassume his role as Bill Davis Racing team engineer. "It is extremely important that we use all of the resources we have at both Bill Davis Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing to get our program where it needs to be," said Waltrip. "Bobby, Larry and Jason have been working on getting our Burger King cars built that we will run with Bill Elliott this year. Getting those guys to the track and working with our NAPA car will not only help us now, but it will also allow them to gather 'at-track' data for that effort as well."(Michael Waltrip Racing)(5-2-2006)
- Waltrip says he must race Sunday: Michael Waltrip, who will have to qualify his #55 NAPA Dodge on speed for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, will celebrate his 43rd birthday on Sunday and hopes to have more cause to celebrate with a starting spot: "If we have a problem getting in I'll probably have to nose around to find another ride to race on Sunday. It's my birthday and I can't miss the race."(Talladega Superspeey Pit Notes)(4-29-2006)
- Waltrip talked to Jarrett...no 2nd driver yet: #55-Michael Waltrip said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway that he has personally offered #88-Dale Jarrett a contract to drive a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry Nextel Cup car in 2007. Toyota and Waltrip are also said to be wooing Jarrett’s sponsor, UPS, which is in the final year of its contract with Robert Yates Racing. Waltrip said he hopes to have a driver signed for 2007 in short order. “We want to get the driver lineup as soon as possible,” said Waltrip. “We want to hire the best driver we can get, and not be controversial about it. We’re going to try and get the biggest, best guy we can. The list was top guys for a while, then the list was top guys and medium guys and now it’s who do you think we can get? It might be a top guy, it might not be. It’s just a matter of what we can work out. It’s more important to my sponsors who we get than it is to Toyota.” Make no mistake about it, Toyota and its race teams are serious about spending money to hire talent: One team principal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one of his managers received a $100,000 raise when he jumped ship and moved to a Toyota team recently.
AND: Waltrip, who has sponsorship from NAPA for his Cup effort next year, did say he has sponsorship settled for two Nextel Cup teams but won't announce the other sponsor until he settles on a driver. Waltrip said he had talked with recently retired Ricky Rudd but only about possibly doing what Bill Elliott was eventually signed to do - run a partial schedule this year for MWR as it gets ready for the full-time effort. Larry Carter and Bobby Kennedy are building the Chevys for Bill Elliott to run this season with Burger King sponsorship. He said that should help build the team in getting ready for the Toyota debut next season. He also said he has sponsorship for one of his two Busch Series teams. He said he would like David Reutimann, the driver for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports in the trucks, drive one of those Busch cars. He also said that Reutimann's teammate, Joey Miller, is a possibility for the other Busch car.(SceneDaily.com)
AND II: Michael Waltrip revealed on Friday that Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd have been asked about driving a Toyota next season — and he was emphatic about who was doing the wooing. Waltrip, who will field two Camrys in both the Cup and Busch series next season, said his team is handling all negotiations on incoming personnel without any help from the Japanese manufacturer.(USA Today)(4-29-2006)
- 650 for Mikey: #55 NAPA Auto Parts driver Michael Waltrip will make his 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend. Waltrip sits 15th overall in career NASCAR Cup Series starts and is fourth among full-time active NEXTEL Cup Series drivers.(Wasserman Media Group/NAPA PR)(4-19-2006)
- Mikey in Stars and Stripes again at Daytona: #55-Michael Waltrip will run his annual Stars and Stripes NAPA scheme for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, this year on his #55 Dodge. See an image on the #55 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006)
- Michael Waltrip Racing News UPDATE 4 Burger King and Bill Elliott: Toyota is using the same entry philosophy [they used in the Truck Series] as they enter NASCAR’s top series - new teams. Michael Waltrip Racing is working hand in hand with Toyota developing the 2007 Camry. With the quality people we have on board, we will be a key technical partner in all areas of the building process. We are even developing our own 2006 Dodge cars. The reason for this is three fold. First, to run a five-race 2006 schedule, which will be announced Friday afternoon [March 10th] of the Las Vegas race weekend next month. At that time, we will also announce a driver and sponsor combination. Secondly, to assist Toyota in understanding where the cars that are on track today are aerodynamically. And lastly, to help MWR’s employees to stay current with the competition. This group will be much better prepared to race in 2007 because of this plan. Waltrip Racing World is gaining more and more momentum. On February 6, 2006, we finalized zoning approval for the entire 11-acre campus. We plan to begin demolition and renovations by March 1, 2006. Everyone we talk to about our fan friendly, interactive entertainment based concept believes it will be a hit. Race tracks, baseball stadiums –heck, all sports venues have become interactive. Now, the first race shop will be. Our real estate partner, Noah Lazes, has been busy visiting other race shops, Daytona USA, Basketball arenas, etc., making sure our project is the latest and greatest in the world of sports-themed destinations. Bobby Kennedy, MWR’s V.P. of Competition [but still working with DW's Truck Series team], along with Larry Carter, MWR and former Penske Racing [#2] crew chief, have been equally as busy making sure every detail is in order for the team to produce the fastest race cars possible out of our facility. We are blessed that Larry recently helped in the design of Roger Penske’s new Penske Racing shop. His experience and knowledge of the project ensures me our team will need nothing when we move in.(NAPA Site)(2-28-2006)
UPDATE: been asked what happened to this announcement? no idea....have not seen nor heard a thing, the link has been removed from the articles list, but the old article is still there.(3-14-2006)
UPDATE 2: been told the announcement could be within the next week or two.(3-15-2006)
UPDATE 3: look for the announcement to come Friday, March 17th at Atlanta Motor Speedway, hearing Burger King could be a sponsor in some part.(3-16-2006)
UPDATE 4 - Burger King and Bill Elliott: Beginning this year, Burger King said it will become a primary sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing's (MWR) #00 Chevy [not Dodge or Ford] driven by Bill Elliott. Elements of the promotion are to include a specially designed #00 paint scheme, in-store activities and driver appearances. The five Nextel Cup races the company is to sponsor this year are at Chicagoland, July 9; New Hampshire, July 16; Indianapolis, Aug. 6; California, Sept. 3; and Homestead, Nov. 9. Waltrip was among the first owners to announce plans to work with Toyota starting in 2007, during its first foray into Nextel Cup Series racing.(South Flordia Business Journal)
MORE: Michael Waltrip Racing announced Friday that it will team with Burger King and NASCAR champion Bill Elliott for a
five-race schedule this season. Elliott will pilot the #00 Burger King Chevrolet at Chicago, New Hampshire, Indianapolis, California and
Homestead. Waltrip said the team plans to expand to a full-time NEXTEL Cup venture next season, running Toyotas. Waltrip said sponsorship and driver plans for next year were still up in the air. But for now, he's thrilled to have a veteran like Elliott behind the wheel.
Burger King also announced donations to both the Speedway Children's Charities and the National Motorsports Press Association.
Waltrip quotes of the day: (On fielding Chevrolets for his team despite driving Dodges himself) "I'm like Switzerland, I can drive anything. Chevrolet is the car to beat. They've won two of the first three races. When we were planning this project, in order to lure Mr. Elliott, we wanted to get the best car he could drive. Right now that appears to be Chevrolet. I'll stay in a Dodge, I suppose, but I am going to be in a Toyota truck later this year, and I've got a call in to Ford."(AMS Pit Notes)(3-17-2006)
- Darrell "D.W." Waltrip's Dream Comes True: Aaron Rents announced that for the first time ever, Darrell Waltrip will take the wheel from younger brother Michael Waltrip to race the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine at the upcoming Busch Series race at Martinsville Speedway on the evening of July 22, 2006. NASCAR fans familiar with the Waltrip brothers and their long-standing relationship with Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership know that for years, Michael Waltrip has famously and repeatedly turned down older brother Darrell’s requests to drive the Aaron’s Dream Machine. However, in a surprise announcement made during the final moments of a Darrell Waltrip Roast benefiting the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Tennessee, Darrell’s wife Stevie dramatically handed the three-time Nextel Cup Series Champion one of Michael’s racing helmets along with her permission to drive the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine during the Martinsville race. Despite the fact that Darrell Waltrip completed what he called his “One and Done” race this past October in the #12 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville, the driver jumped to his feet to accept the helmet and express his thanks at the opportunity that had eluded him until this point. “I can’t believe it,” said Darrell Waltrip. “The Aaron’s ad campaign has been a lot of fun for me over the years, but I seriously thought I would never get to race that car. I really appreciate Michael and Aaron’s and, of course, my wonderful and supportive wife Stevie, for giving me this opportunity. Like they say, Dreams Come True at Aaron’s!” President of Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership Ken Butler stated, “When we let the fans vote on whether or not to let D.W. race the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine, the response was definitely in favor of letting him drive it. Now we can bring this very successful campaign and very important partnership with the Waltrip family full circle for Aaron’s. I have a great respect for Darrell Waltrip and what he has accomplished in his career, including his 13 previous Busch series wins. We are honored to have him represent Aaron’s behind the wheel in Martinsville.”(more at michaelwaltrip.com)(3-15-2006)
- Inside Nextel Cup Show returns on Feb 13th: Dave Despain will once again climb into the host's chair for SPEED's popular Monday night program Inside Nextel Cup, beginning Feb. 13 at 7:00pm/et. Joining Despain, will be veteran drivers Michael Waltrip and Kenny Schrader, both in new rides for 2006. Brian Vickers, the Hendrick Motorsports driver who joined the show late last
season, will return for 20 shows in 2006. "I think 2006 should be exciting for everyone - especially the fans of Inside Nextel Cup," said Vickers, the youngest national series champion in NASCAR history. "Kenny (Schrader) and Michael (Waltrip) are driving for new teams, the GMAC Racing team and I are ready and we're all optimistic about a new season. I've gained some valuable experience working with them and Dave (Despain) on the set, so hopefully I'll pass the SPEED rookie stripe to someone else and we'll bring viewers even more insight and entertainment. I appreciate the opportunity they've presented by welcoming me back to the program."
"It took a lot of courage for Brian to step onto a show that had changed for the first time in 10 years last year," said Chris Long, VP of Studio Production for SPEED. "We made some aggressive changes to a fan favorite SPEED show midway through the year and Brian did a great job blending in with the team. We're thrilled to have him back for 20 shows in 2006."(Speed Channel)(1-31-2006)
- Toyota Team Images:
2007 #22 Team Schemes Page
2007 #55 Team Schemes Page
2007 #83 Team Schemes Page
- Looks like Mikey, NAPA and Toyota in 2007 UPDATE: hearing that NAPA will continue to sponsor Michael Waltrip in the #55 NAPA Camry and welcoming Toyota into their first year of Nextel Cup competition. Expect this to be announced at Toyota's Press Conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway tonight. See an image of the #55 NAPA Toyota on my Toyota Images page.(1-24-2006)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip announced that Michael Waltrip Racing will field multiple Toyota Camry entries in the NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup Series when the green flag waves for the 2007 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. "Toyota is a leader in the automotive industry and has quickly become a consistent winner in the NASCAR Truck Series," Waltrip said. "The logical step is for them to come into the Nextel Cup Series and I am honored to be a part of their entrance into the sport."
Driving the #55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Waltrip has support from all of his sponsors and he has the resources in place to chase the coveted Nextel Cup Series championship. In addition to NAPA supporting Waltrip's efforts, Best Western, Klaussner (Sofa Express and More) and Coca-Cola will be heavily involved in his racing endeavors during Toyota's inaugural year in the Nextel Cup Series.
"Toyota's standards are high and their approach into the sport is well thought out," said Waltrip. "Michael Waltrip Racing's sponsors have also taken their own methodical steps into the NASCAR industry and I am grateful that they are making this march with me and that they share my eagerness in today's announcement. As my new Nextel CUP organization is formally born today, it's interesting to note that there is already a strong connection with my new partner. Both Toyota and I have Kentucky roots -- I was born in Owensboro, Kentucky and the Camry is assembled in Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Kentucky."
"We are pleased about being a part of Toyota's entry into the Nextel Cup Series," said NAPA President Bob Susor. "NAPA shares Toyota's enthusiasm for motor sports and through our sponsorship we want to be one of the first to welcome them into the top level of the sport. This partnership is an excellent match for NAPA. We are equally excited about our new partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing. Michael has been synonymous with the NAPA brand since 2001 and we could not be more pleased to have a person of Michael's qualities representing our brand."
"We are an established leader in providing quality aftermarket automotive parts and service," continued Susor. "NAPA AUTO PARTS has coverage and availability of over 300,000 part numbers to service the North American market needs of both domestic and imported name plate vehicles."
To prepare for the future of Michael Waltrip Racing, Waltrip devised a plan to achieve his goal of becoming a successful owner in the Nextel Cup Series. Setting the stage in August of 2005, Waltrip announced his plans to design and create Waltrip Racing World, an interactive high-tech race shop designed for the ultimate fan experience. "Since 1996, we have operated Michael Waltrip Racing out of our backyard," Michael Waltrip explained. "I have always dreamed of constructing the perfect building for a race team. Waltrip Racing World will be just that. NASCAR is a family sport and this, in our opinion, is the definitive family destination. We see the fans packing up their cars and motorhomes and setting out to experience Waltrip Racing World and the area that surrounds it. The value of letting the fans touch, hear and smell the workings of our Nextel Cup Toyota teams seven days a week not only benefits the fans, but gives our sponsors and manufacturer more exposure. We believe the fans will come during the week to watch our Toyota teams prepare for the races and on the weekends to watch NASCAR action on one of the giant movie screens as part of the experience."(MWR PR)(1-25-2006)
- Three Teams to field Camry's in 2007 Cup Series UPDATE: hearing that Bill Davis Racing [#22,23], Michael Waltrip Racing [#55] and Team Red Bull will run the Toyota Camry in 2007 when Toyota enters the series. In addition to Red Bull, other sponsors that will be associated with the Toyota teams are Caterpillar (Bill Davis Racing) and NAPA (Michael Waltrip Racing). Team Red Bull will be based in Mooresville, NC, and stock car veteran Marty Gaunt [Penske] will serve as the team's general manager. Who will drive for Red Bull? how many teams/cars? not sure, Robby Gordon, who owns his own team has been sponsored by Red Bull. And have heard that Kevin Harvick, who drivers the #29 RCR Chevy, could be one of the drivers for Red Bull team. Expect these teams, but doubt the Red Bull drivers, in part to be announced at Toyota's Press Conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway tonight.(1-24-2006)
UPDATE: One veteran race team with close to 20 years of stock car experience, another with an owner who has been driving race cars for more than 20 years, and a third totally new team will all be running the Toyota Camry in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series.
Bill Davis Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull will all utilize the "Most Popular Car in America" when the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season kicks-off next February with the Daytona 500, Toyota and teams announced.
Bill Davis Racing has been a regular competitor in the NASCAR Cup Series since 1993, while Michael Waltrip Racing has primarily been involved in the Busch Series. Team Red Bull is new to Nextel Cup, although the company has been heavily involved in worldwide motorsports. In addition to Red Bull, other primary sponsors that will be associated with the Toyota teams are Caterpillar (Bill Davis Racing) and NAPA (Michael Waltrip Racing). Caterpillar has been associated with Bill Davis Racing for nine years and NAPA has had a relationship with Michael Waltrip for five years.
"Based on our motorsports experience, we know the importance of working with experienced teams and partners," said Jim Aust, vice president of Toyota Motorsports and president and CEO of TRD, U.S.A. "We have developed excellent relationships with Bill Davis and the Waltrip family --- and look forward to developing a similar relationship with the Red Bull team as Toyota joins one of the world's most competitive racing series."
"Next year -- 2007 -- marks Toyota's 50th anniversary in America and seeing a Toyota Camry -- America's best-selling car -- in the NEXTEL Cup Series will be a great way to celebrate this milestone," said Kim McCullough, TMS corporate manager, marketing communications. "The response to Toyota's involvement in the Craftsman Truck Series has been very positive, and we look forward to building on that acceptance at the next levels -- in both NEXTEL Cup and Busch racing."
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in America for four straight years and eight of the past nine years. Assembled at Toyota's Georgetown, Ky. plant, more than six million Camry models have been sold in the United States since its debut 23 years ago. The all-new 2007 Camry, a complete redesign from previous models, was recently introduced at the North American Auto Show in Detroit.
Bill Davis has been involved in NASCAR competition for 18 years. During his tenure as a NASCAR team owner, the Arkansas-native has worked with some of the sport's top drivers and claimed numerous honors, including the 1991 Busch Series Rookie-of-the-Year award with driver Jeff Gordon, and a 2002 Daytona 500 win with driver Ward Burton. Bill Davis Racing has 18 victories, 38 poles, 104 top-five finishes and 257 top-10 finishes as a NASCAR team owner. In 2004, Bill Davis Racing partnered with Toyota to field three Tundras in the Craftsman Truck Series. In two seasons participating in the NCTS, the Bill Davis Racing drivers have combined for two wins, 11 poles, 22 top-five finishes and 41 top-10 finishes. The team will again field three Tundras in the series in 2006.
Michael Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, formed his own race team nearly a decade ago in Sherrills Ford, N.C. Established primarily as a Busch Series team -- where Waltrip would collect four wins and six poles -- the organization began fielding cars in the Nextel Cup Series on a limited basis over the past few years. In order to better prepare for the expansion of his team, Waltrip announced plans last August to develop, design and create 'Waltrip Racing World' -- an interactive, high-tech race shop that will feature more than 125,000 square-feet of shop space, buildings and housing when completed.
Team Red Bull will be based in Mooresville, N.C., and stock car veteran Marty Gaunt will serve as the team's general manager. Although Red Bull is new to Nextel Cup competition, the world's leading energy drink company has been increasingly involved in global motorsports over the last decade. Red Bull owns and operates two Formula One teams -- Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso -- plus is an active supporter of action and adventure sports, music and culture, along with motorsports.
In 2004, Toyota became a regular competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) -the first new manufacturer in elite NASCAR competition in more than 50 years. In its inaugural NCTS season, a Toyota Tundra recorded four wins, five pole positions and 25 top-five finishes. During last year's Craftsman Truck Series campaign, four Toyota drivers -- Todd Bodine (five), Mike Skinner (two), David Reutimann (two) and Brandon Whitt (one) -- combined for nine Tundra wins and Toyota drivers recorded 13 poles. This season, Toyota will again field five teams and nine drivers in the NCTS, including defending series champion Ted Musgrave. Toyota made its initial move into the NASCAR ranks in 2000 with the introduction of a V6-powered Celica in the Goody's Dash Series. In three years in the Dash Series, Robert Huffman won 10 races and earned Toyota it's first-ever NASCAR championship when he claimed the 2003 driver's title.
Powering all of Toyota's American racing programs is TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) in Costa Mesa, Calif., and High Point, N.C. A subsidiary of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., TRD serves as the North American racing arm for design, development and assembly of Toyota's factory racing engines. In addition, TRD is also the source of high-performance aftermarket products for both street performance and grassroots racing Toyotas. From the race track to the aftermarket product segment, TRD plays a key role in providing Toyota with an enhanced performance image.(Toyota Motorsports Site)(1-25-2006)
- Owners trying to buy #77 team for owners points UPDATE 2 Waltrip-Bawel partner up: At least six car owners have inquired about the possibility of buying the #77 [Penske-Jasper] team that won't race this year. That's because that team finished in the top 35 in last year's car owner points. If a new team can transfer the #77's points from last year, that would mean it would be guaranteed a spot in the starting field for the 2006 Daytona 500 and the new season's next four races beyond that. Any such arrangement would have to be submitted to NASCAR for its approval.(ThatsRacin), it was reported on NASCAR.com a few weeks ago, that since the #77 was not being run in 2006, the #4 Morgan-McClure team with driver Scott Wimmer would move up and be guaranteed a spot in each of the first five races, if someone bought the #77, would 'assume' that the #4 team would get knocked out.(1-17-2006)
UPDATE: #55-Michael Waltrip, who enters the season without a spot in the top 35 in owners points after his move to Bill Davis Racing, may be the beneficiary if a deal can be worked out between BDR and Penske Racing South, which won't field its #77 team this year. The deal, which would be subject to NASCAR's approval, would require an agreement to be reached between official #77 owner, Doug Bawel and BDR. Other team supposedly have made inquries about acquiring the rights to #77's 2005 owners points. One techicality could be whether or not the owners points would revert to Penske's #77 team should it return in 2007.(NASCAR Scene Print Version)(1-20-2006)
UPDATE 2: President and CEO of Michael Waltrip Racing, Inc., Michael Waltrip and President of Jasper, Doug Bawel, announced they have formed Waltrip-Jasper Racing Company, LLC. Waltrip-Jasper Racing will field the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Nextel Cup Dodge in 2006,driven by Waltrip. Bawel has been in racing for over 15 years, previously as an owner of Penske-Jasper Racing Company's #77 Kodak Dodge. Bawel will serve on the Board of Directors and will be active in business management and sanctioning body relationships for the new company. "I have been in the sport as a driver for 22 years and the logical progression for me was ownership at
the highest level, the Nextel Cup Series," Waltrip said. "This is such a big step, that I wanted to partner with someone who has intimate knowledge about ownership at this level. Doug Bawel and I have been friends for a number of years and I have always respected the way he handled himself in the garage and with NASCAR."
"I learned quickly that Michael is a goal oriented person," Bawel stated. "When we began talking about the possibilities of teaming up, he started dialing the phone and making things happen immediately. He is a talented driver and a proven NASCAR Busch Series car owner, but most importantly as he moves into NASCAR's premier series, he is a man with a vision that likes to take ideas from paper to reality. I am delighted to lend my experience and management support to Waltrip-Jasper Racing."
Waltrip-Jasper Racing has contracted Bill Davis Racing to be the source of cars, engines and personnel. Additionally, Waltrip-Jasper Racing has created their own team of people. The foundation of Waltrip-Jasper Racing is sculpted with experienced people vested in NASCAR. Ty Norris, former EVP of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will serve as the general manager overseeing the operation. Waltrip's long-time confidant, Bobby Kennedy will serve as the Competition Director and Larry Carter, a veteran crew chief, has also been contracted by
Waltrip-Jasper Racing to be a part of the team.(Waltrip-Jasper Racing PR), so this allows Waltrip and the #55 team to use the #77 owners points and guaranteed to make the first five Cup races. Thus knocking the #4 Morgan-McClure team back to 36th in owners points and out of the guaranteed spot.(1-20-2006)
- Domino's sticks with Waltrip: Domino's Pizza is going the distance with two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip as they extend their partnership into the 2006 NASCAR racing season. Domino's will have an associate sponsorship throughout the 2006 racing season on Waltrip's #55 NAPA Dodge. Additionally, Domino's will be a primary sponsor on Waltrip's #55 Dodge during one Nextel Cup Series race [supposedly Michigan in August]. The agreement also provides Domino's the opportunity to continue featuring Waltrip in NASCAR-themed commercials and promotions.(Domino's PR), see an image of the scheme on my #55 Team Schemes page.(1-11-2006)
- BDR to have three teams at Daytona: Bill Davis Racing will field three teams at Daytona; Mike Skinner will pull double duty between trucks and the #23 Cup car. Former Penske South [#2] crew chief Larry Carter has been retained as a consultant and will primarily assist Skinner's team through Speedweeks. Dave Blaney returns to BDR in the #22 Caterpillar Dodge and will be reunited with former Richard Childress Racing crew chief Kevin Hamlin. Michael Waltrip will make his debut for the organization in the #55 NAPA Dodge in February--the #22 and #55 will test next week, but former Winston West driver and current rear tire changer Tom Hubert will sub for Waltrip. Tony Anderson, a six-year BDR veteran who was the chief mechanic for the 22, has been promoted to car chief.(Sporting News)(1-9-2006)
- Carter to Bill Davis Racing: although it was announced at Penske Racing that former #2 crew chief Larry Carter was staying there in another capacity, saw this reported on FoxSports.com in a Darrell Waltip article: "With my brother Michael being over at Bill Davis Racing, he's bringing NAPA and some resources. Davis brought back Dave Blaney, who is one of those consistent guys. If you put Blaney in a good car next year, Michael and Blaney could work well together next year. They brought in Larry Carter from the #2 car to help them. That's going to be a big plus. Derrick Finley has a few years under his belt as a crew chief. I see good things happening at Bill Davis Racing. But Michael has to stay out of trouble and finish races — that's got to be his number 1 priority.(FoxSports)(12-28-2005)
- Hamlin leaves RCR for BDR? UPDATE Official - Hamlin, Finley to #55 Waltrip: hearing [or have learned] that crew chief Kevin Hamlin has left Richard Childress Racing and will be the new crew chief at Bill Davis Racing for Dave Blaney and the #22 Caterpillar Dodge with former #22 crew chief Derrick Finley moving over to the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge that Michael Waltrip will drive in 2006.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio show/Sporting News)(11-29-2005)
UPDATE: Following up on last week’s news regarding its recent changes to the #22 CAT Racing team, Bill Davis Racing released more details Tuesday about its 2006 plans for the #55 car, confirming Derrick Finley will serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and the #55 Napa Auto Parts crew. Along with Finley, the majority of the crew members who worked on the #22 car this 2005 season will move to the #55 team. “Derrick has done a good job with the #22 car this year. Putting him and his experienced group of guys with Michael is going to make the entire transition back into a two-car team easier for all of us,” said Bill Davis, team owner and president of Bill Davis Racing. “Derrick is a very intelligent individual and a hard worker. I am confident he, Michael and the rest of the guys have what it takes to get the #55 NAPA car up front.”
“I’m really looking forward to having two teams. Having Blaney and Hamlin’s input is going to be valuable. I’ve known Hamlin for a long time. We’ll work well together,” Finley said. “It’s a big help to be able to take most of my guys with me. We’ll have our core group together with a new driver, which should help speed everything up as far as comfort level for all of us.”(BDR PR)(12-6-2005)
- Waltrip and Toyota...meeting with sponsors: Michael Waltrip plans to be a Toyota team owner down the road, and he had productive meetings in New York with prospective sponsors and NASCAR's Jim France. Next year #55 Waltrip will race out of Bill Davis' High Point, N.C., shop with Derrick Finley as his crew chief.(Sporting News)(12-6-2005)
- Waltrip to Fitzbradshaw? hearing that Michale Waltrip's Busch team will be associated with Fitz-Bradshaw Racing with the #40 team in 2006, not sure if he and his drivers would still run #99 and if Aaron's / State Fair Corn Dogs would still be sponsors. Supposedly Ted Kennedy would be the crew chief. No word what happens to Micheal Waltrip Racing, crew chief Butch Hylton or the #00 Nextel Cup team.(12-1-2005)
- Hamlin leaves RCR for BDR? hearing [or have learned] that crew chief Kevin Hamlin has left Richard Childress Racing and will be the new crew chief at Bill Davis Racing for Dave Blaney and the #22 Caterpillar Dodge with former #22 crew chief Derrick Finley moving over to the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge that Michael Waltrip will drive in 2006.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio show/Sporting News)(11-29-2005)
- #55 Scheme: added #55 NAPA Autro Parts Dodge scheme to the 2006 Paint Scheme links.(11-28-2005)
- #55 for Mikey? UPDATE 2 Skinner NOT to the #22? BDR still looking: hearing Michael Waltrip will run the #55 in the NAPA Bill Davis Racing Dodge. DEI chose to keep the #15.(10-28-2005)
UPDATE - Skinner to the #22? Forget those Ward Burton returns stories for Bill Davis Racing next season. Mike Skinner will drive the Caterpillar Dodge #22 in 2006, teaming with Michael Waltrip in the NAPA #55.(RacingOne)(11-1-2005)
UPDATE 2: Bill Davis Racing reiterated and confirmed today, contrary to recent rumors, a new driver has not been signed to pilot the #22 Caterpillar Dodge in 2006. “We are still finalizing the details around the CAT Racing program for next year,” said Bill Davis, team owner and president. “Of course, we have our eye on what the ideal fit would be and are hoping everything works out that way.” Recent rumors have developed around Davis’ Toyota Racing driver, Mike Skinner, as being the next one to fill the seat of the #22, but Davis stated that is not part of the game plan. “I don’t know how stuff like this gets started, but none of that is true,” Davis said. “Skinner is a great driver and is doing a great job for us and Toyota in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We’re all happy with that entire program and how it is progressing. We’re hoping it will be even more successful in 2006. I cannot stress this enough, but we are not going to do anything to distract from that. Skinner is the fulltime driver of the #5 Toyota Tundra and there are no plans, nor were there ever, to put him in the #22 car.” Davis is asking for everyone’s patience in this matter and wants to remind everyone that until BDR officially announces its plans, everything else is hearsay and pure speculation. “People don’t realize when they concoct stuff like this, how it can truly be detrimental to the business side of this sport,” Davis said. “I am working hard to get everything nailed down for next year and as soon as that is done I will be very eager to let everyone else know about it. Hopefully, we will be able to announce the future plans for the #22 team in the near future.”(Bill Davis Racing)(11-2-2005)
- #15 stays with DEI: DEI VP of Motorsports, Richie Gilmore told Claire B. Lang XM Satellite NASCAR Radio - that the #15 is not going anywhere:
"We're going to run the 1, 8, and 15 again next year and we're working on some sponsorship right now. We have some sponsor stuff in place to run the 15 next year on a partial schedule. There is some possiblities...there's a real small window you know probably by Charlotte everybody has to have their deal signed up. But we have enough stuff right now sponsorship in place to run at least ten
races with the 15. But we're just looking at our options of maybe running three (cars) full time. So we haven't ruled that out but it's a short time frame where we close that window."
Gilmore said the benefits of having at least a partial schedule with the #15 are that doing so would give Paul Menard more time at the cup level. They would run him at Daytona and have three partners down there to draft and it would also help them use the full test schedule with all three teams. And as to NAPA taking the 15 number with Michael Waltrip - "That is something Dale (Earnhardt) personally went to Bud Moore and put together and had, has a lot of pride in that number and so does Theresa," Gilmore told Claire B. Lang. "We've had fans both ways saying Michael deserves that number and if they know the history of DEI they know that's not true. That's our number. We have a lot of pride in it as a company and that number will stay with DEI."
CBL: "You're sure you won't give (the #15) number up:?
Gilmore: "I'm positive. That number will stay with DEI. Yes we appreciate the time we've had with NAPA and with Michael but just because Michael was there for five years in that car I don't see where he deserves that number. He was in the number 30. Go get that," Gilmore said. He added that Waltrip talked to DEI about it and wanted to reassure Theresa.. that it was something that NAPA wanted because they had equity in it but that he was fine looking at other numbers.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio)(10-7-2005)
- Best Western Joins Waltrip at BDR: Best Western International, the Official Hotel of NASCAR, announced that it has partnered with Bill Davis Racing (BDR) as an associate sponsor on the 2006 Dodge Charger driven in the NEXTEL Cup Series by Michael Waltrip. “We are thrilled to be teaming with Bill Davis Racing in 2006,” said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing for Best Western. “A respected member of the NASCAR community who has helped to set the standard for the sport, Bill brings a wealth of experience and demonstrated success to the business. With the addition of Michael, Bill Davis Racing provides us with a complete, marketable package.” Bill Davis announced last week his plans for re-establishing BDR as a multi-car team through a partnership with Waltrip. In January 2004, Best Western entered into a multi-year agreement as the Official Hotel of NASCAR. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, the company has also served as an associate sponsor of Waltrip and the DEI-owned #15 NAPA Chevy. In addition, the hotel chain has partnered with Michael Waltrip Racing for the last two years, serving as primary sponsor of Waltrip’s Busch Series #99 Chevy for the 2004 Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway; and the 2005 Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. For more information, visit: bestwesternracing.com.(PR)(10-1-2005)
- Waltrip, NAPA to Bill Davis Racing - It's OFFICIAL: Michael Waltrip and NAPA AUTO PARTS announced today they have entered into a partnership with Bill Davis Racing (BDR) for the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season. Nine victories and eight poles are shared between the parties including three Daytona 500 rings and a Southern 500 victory. Bill Davis Racing's achievements lured Waltrip to their High Point, N.C. race shop. "I like the way Bill does business and he has created a strong organization," Waltrip explained. "NAPA and I look forward to continuing our winning ways at Bill Davis Racing on the track, as well as extending our successful marketing efforts off the track." Waltrip and NAPA were teamed up by the late Dale Earnhardt in 2001 when their initial race together put them in victory lane at the Daytona 500. Since then, the pair has taken advantage of their union to create one of the strongest partnerships in the sport.
"Teaming with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. for the past five years has been the highlight of my Nextel Cup career to date," continued Waltrip. "I look toward my future with NAPA and BDR with gratitude to DEI for the memories and friendships I have formed."
"It is no secret that our association with Michael has been a key ingredient of our marketing efforts," said Bob Susor, president of NAPA AUTO PARTS. "Race fans associate NAPA AUTO PARTS with Michael Waltrip and vice versa. Michael has promoted our brand in his own unique style. Moving forward, we are pleased to announce our continued support of Michael Waltrip and a new partnership with Bill Davis Racing. This begins a new chapter in NASCAR team sponsorship for NAPA. We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for the many successes NAPA has enjoyed during our tenure with DEI such as two NASCAR Truck Series Championships and two Daytona 500 victories. We will value our DEI association and wish them nothing but the best in their future efforts."
Next year will be Bill Davis Racing's 14th year of competition on the Nextel Cup Series level, the team's 19th year in NASCAR
competition. As a NASCAR team owner, Davis has worked with some of the sport's top drivers achieving wins in all three premier divisions
of NASCAR, totaling 18 victories, 100 top-five finishes and 250 top-10 finishes.
Davis currently fields one full-time NEXTEL Cup Series team with Scott Wimmer driving the #22 Caterpillar Dodge Charger. In 2004, Davis
expanded his operations to house three full-time truck teams in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The teams include Mike Skinner in the #5 Toyota Tundra, Bill Lester in the #22 Toyota Tundra, and Johnny Benson in the #23 Toyota Tundra.
"NAPA and Michael Waltrip are the perfect combination to re-establish our two-car Cup team in 2006," said Davis. "NAPA and Michael are held in high regard in our sport and have been successful in each Series they have competed. We plan to build on their success and create a very competitive team next year and beyond." There will be a Q&A session at the #22 CAT Racinghauler in the Nextel Cup garage at 10:10am/et Friday, Sept. 23.(Bill Davis Racing)), no mention of car number or if #22 driver, Scott Wimmer will be back.(9-23-2005)
- Bill Davis Racing/Waltrip Announcement UPDATE 2 Mikey on Trackside: Bill Davis hopes to improve that situation [one car team] by having his second [Cup] entry return to the tour full-time next year. He intends to announce details of the program this week. Garage speculation in recent weeks has targeted Michael Waltrip as the driver [with NAPA as the sponsor]. "Like every one over here, we were looking at ways to get better," Davis said. "Going to a two-car team will help, with all the advantages that entails from testing and sharing information." Also of note, when Mike Skinner won a truck race a few weeks ago Davis became just the sixth owner in history to win in all of NASCAR's top three series, joining Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress.(High Point Enterprise)(9-15-2005)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip said on this weeks Inside Nextel Cup show that he would announce his 2006 plans on Speed Channel's Trackside show from Dover, which airs this Friday at 7:00pm/et [re-air at 11:00pm/et].(9-21-2005)
UPDATE 2: Michael Waltrip will announce Friday [on Trackside] that he has signed a one-year deal to drive a second car for Davis next season. Davis entered two cars in most races from 2000 to 2003 but cut back last season and now fields only Scott Wimmer's #22 Dodge. Wimmer hasn't had a top-10 finish this season and enters Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway 33rd in points. Waltrip will bring NAPA Auto Parts, his current sponsor at Dale Earnhardt Inc., with him to Davis; Waltrip, 42, announced in July that he would not return to DEI in 2006. Davis' team fields Dodges in Nextel Cup but doesn't receive technical or financial support from the automaker. Dodge sued the team in 2003 after it discovered team members were doing development work for Toyota's Craftsman Truck Series program. Though Waltrip says the lack of factory support has "probably been a disadvantage" for Davis, the possibility of aligning himself with Toyota — which hasn't announced plans to join Nextel Cup but is expected to do so in 2007 — was part of the attraction. "I guess it was a consideration on my part to see what might be next," Waltrip said.(USA Today), have seen the NAPA PR and it doesn't address the car number Waltrip will drive [#22? #23? #00?] nor if Scott Wimmer will be back in the #22 Caterpillar Dodge in 2006, although Caterpillar is signed with Davis until 2007.(9-23-2005)
- More on Dale Jr./Eury Jr. reuniting: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and former crew chief Tony Eury Jr. will be reunited in time for Sunday's race at New Hampshire. Eury has been Michael Waltrip's crew chief this season. Tony Gibson, Waltrip's car chief, is likely to succeed Eury as crew chief and stay with the #15 team for the remainder of the season. Waltrip is leaving with NAPA at the end of the year to drive the #23 car for Bill Davis Racing[not announced yet, still speculated and expected]. With Tony Eury Jr. moving back to the #8 team, Steve Hmiel will return to his previous post as head of DEI's research-and-development operation and concentrate on building the intermediate-track version of "the car of tomorrow (COT)" for 2007. Hmiel says that several organizations are participating in the process, but it was important for DEI to get a head start, "since this will be the biggest change to come along in Cup since NASCAR moved to smaller cars in '81."(Sporting News)(9-12-2005)
- Waltrip and Toyota? UPDATE 3 to BDR? Denied: Waltrip is headed eventually to the Toyota camp - along with Eury Jr. [note: as of 8/18 Eury signed to stay at DEI], according to one Detroit source very close to the situation - in what is reported to be a top-dollar project. "Toyota has offered Michael and Tony Jr. so much money they can't turn it down," the source said. Waltrip has been eyed for a Toyota ride for more than a year, in part because older brother Darrell runs a Toyota team on the Craftsman Truck Series. NASCAR has been pushing Toyota to step up its presence in the sport, for the added marketing punch that would provide. And Waltrip could give Toyota quick credibility. Toyota isn't expected to field a Cup team until 2007, although a Busch team is a possibility in 2006. Toyota does have a formidable presence in the truck series. The Toyota option? "I don't even know when that's a possibility, and I need a job for next year," Waltrip replied.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-16-2005)
UPDATE: There have been whispers that [Michael] Waltrip is working with Toyota to become their flagship driver in 2007. Even though nothing firm has been announced in relation to Toyota, speculation is that they will have a car ready for the 2007 season. Don't be surprised if the team that Waltrip drives for in 2006 is in the final year of their manufacturers' contract.(Suffolk News Herald)(8-9-2005)
UPDATE 2: ....could find Michael Waltrip racing under the banner of Bill Davis Racing in 2006, and he might be taking his current sponsor, NAPA, with him. Waltrip has informed his current team, Dale Earnhardt Inc., that he won't be returning to the #15 Chevy he has driven for the past five seasons. A move to Davis' team would mesh nicely with Waltrip's expected plans to join Toyota's team when that manufacturer moves to the Cup circuit in 2007 or 2008], because Davis already is running Toyotas in the Craftsman Truck Series.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(8-19-2005)
UPDATE 3:.......also, it appears Michael Waltrip is headed to BDR. Waltrip attempted to bring Eury Jr. with him but he turned it down obviously. Bill Davis refused comment this morning.(ESPN's SportsCenter/Mike Massaro)(8-21-2005)
UPDATE 4 - Denied: Mike Brown, general manager for Bill Davis, said his team has had "no talks at all" with Michael Waltrip about joining their operation next season.(Winston Salem Journal)(8-22-2005)