NAPA Auto Parts is dropping Michael Waltrip Racing in light of a race-rigging controversy to get Martin Truex Jr. into the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.
NAPA is the main sponsor for Truex, who was in the Chase for one day, until NASCAR levied massive penalties against MWR for conduct at Richmond International Raceway.
The sponsor was in the first year of a three-year extension worth at least $15 million. However, ABC News reports that the auto parts giant is revoking the contract.
The company already issued a harsh statement against Michael Waltrip Racing last week after NASCAR sanctioned the team. The racing organization punished MWR for deliberately manipulating the race.
NAPA released a statement about the decision to drop MWR, explaining, “NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR. We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.”
Michael Waltrip Racing wasn’t the only team to engage in race-rigging during the Richmond race, according to ESPN. After further investigation, the racing organization expanded the Chase field to 13 drivers including Jeff Gordon as driver number 13. Gordon and Ryan Newman, who took over Truex’s spot, were victims of the two teams’ antics during the race.
While NAPA is dropping Michael Waltrip Racing, Aaron’s, sponsor of driver Brian Vickers, stated that it will continue to sponsor the MWR car. 5-Hour-Energy, which sponsors Clint Bowyer, stated that it is still evaluating its relationship with the race team.
NAPA’s partnership with Michael Waltrip dates to 2001. The company sponsored Waltrip during both of his Daytona 500 wins and moved with him when he formed his own race team in 2007. This season’s race-rigging scandal is the second NAPA has been through with Waltrip.
During his team’s debut race at the Daytona 500, Michael Waltrip was found to have a fuel additive in his engine. His crew chief (David Hyder) and executive (Bobby Kennedy) were ejected, the team was docked 100 points, and Hyder was fined $100,000. It was one of the biggest cheating scandals of NASCAR’s opening race.
Michael Waltrip Racing released a statement about NAPA’s decision, saying that it respects the company’s choice. The statement added, “MWR is a resilient organization capable of winning races and competing for the championship and that remains our sole focus.” The sponsorship will be over at the end of the 2013 season.