Waltrip apologizes for Richmond incident after NAPA pulls out
Shortly after sponsor NAPA announced that it was pulling its sponsorship from his organization, team co-owner Michael Waltrip apologized for crossing the line of fair play at Richmond International Raceway Sept. 7.
Michael Waltrip Racing was fined a record $300,000 and MWR drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. were docked 50 points each for the organization trying to manipulate the outcome of the final regular-season race at Richmond. Truex, NAPA’s driver, also was kicked out of the Chase after MWR made two questionable moves to try to get him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
After reviewing the incidents, longtime MWR sponsor NAPA announced Thursday morning that it was pulling its support from the team following this season.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page Thursday, the company said: "After thorough consideration, NAPA has made the difficult decision to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing effective December 31, 2013. 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."
Shortly after the announcement, MWR released a statement saying that it respected NAPA’s decision and planned to continue fielding three Sprint Cup teams with other sponsors.
Waltrip, who has been sponsored by NAPA since 2001, then released his own statement about the company and his team.
“NAPA has been with me from winning two Daytona 500s to missing races with a new start-up team, and back to victory lane again,” Waltrip said. “The relationship grew far past that of just a sponsor, but more of a partner and a friend. We will not be racing a NAPA car in 2014, but I have friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Waltrip then apologized for the actions of his team. Though he apologized immediately after his team was penalized, neither Waltrip nor the team admitted any wrongdoing then.
On Thursday, Waltrip apologized for crossing the line at Richmond.
“To the fans and those who made their voice heard through social media, as the owner, I am responsible for all actions of MWR,” Waltrip said. “I sincerely apologize for the role our team played and for the lines NASCAR has ruled were crossed by our actions at Richmond. NASCAR met with the competitors in Chicago and we all know how we are expected to race forward.”