The Frontstretch: NAPA To Leave MWR At End Of 2013 by Phil Allaway -- Thursday September 19, 2013

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NAPA To Leave MWR At End Of 2013

Phil Allaway · Thursday September 19, 2013


Last week, we reported on the reactions from Michael Waltrip Racing’s sponsors to the collusion that took place in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Needless to say, they weren’t exactly pleased.

At the time, NAPA Auto Parts, primary sponsor of the No. 56 Toyota for Martin Truex, Jr., stated that they were launching their own review of their relationship with the race team. The results of the review would ultimately determine the relationship with MWR.

Early this morning, NAPA publicly announced their decision both on their Facebook page and in a press release. Simply put, it is curtains.

NAPA announced that they will be leaving the No. 56 team at the end of the season as a result of the Richmond fallout. They explained their reasoning in a release.

NAPA announced today that, after due consideration, it has decided to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) effective December 31, 2013,” wrote Gaylord Spencer, NAPA Auto Parts’ Vice President of Marketing Strategy. “As many of you are aware, NASCAR determined that MWR attempted to manipulate race results at Richmond, Virginia, on September 7, 2013. NASCAR assessed a large fine, deducted 50 points from each of the three MWR drivers in the race and suspended or banned other members of the MWR team.”

NAPA believes in fair play and we are very disappointed in the actions that led to the NASCAR penalties,” Spencer continued. We have made NAPA‘s decision known to MWR and posted a statement on our Facebook page. There will be significant media coverage and discussion among racing fans and we expect that our decision to terminate our sponsorship will generate additional attention. The decision was difficult, but we believe is the right thing to do. We appreciate in advance your support of our marketing efforts. We will continue to evaluate our future position as it relates to motorsports.”

Racing Daily, a racing blog which first reported about the news Wednesday night on their Twitter feed, reported that NAPA could potentially be headed to Stewart-Haas Racing. There, they could serve as a sponsor for either Kevin Harvick (in addition to Budweiser and Outback Steakhouses, see below), or on the currently unnumbered fourth car that will be driven by Kurt Busch.

Shortly after NAPA made their announcement, Michael Waltrip Racing released a statement in response.

“Michael Waltrip Racing respects the decision NAPA announced today following the events at Richmond,” the statement reads. “There is no doubt [that] the story of Michael Waltrip Racing begins with NAPA Auto Parts, but there are many more chapters yet to be written. MWR has the infrastructure and support of Toyota for three teams plus three Chase-caliber, race-winning drivers. With the support of our corporate partners, we are preparing to field three teams in 2014. MWR is a resilient organization capable of winning races and competing for the championship and that remains our sole focus.”

The announcement ends a 13-year relationship that the chain of auto parts stores has had with team owner Michael Waltrip, dating back to when Waltrip was named the driver of the No. 15 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. It also leaves Martin Truex, Jr.‘s No. 56 with absolutely no primary sponsorship for the 2014 season (NAPA was one of the few full-season primary sponsors remaining in the Sprint Cup Series).

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