Michael Waltrip Racing driver #15-Clint Bowyer was made available to the media at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was announced earlier this week that MWR would cease full-time operations after the 2015 season and that Bowyer has been released from his contract and is a free agent for 2016. Bowyer's comments:
Bowyer: "First and foremost, it's a tough time for everybody involved and it's unfortunate. The truth is that we're eight months into a three-year commitment to one another. Had a great four years at this company, a great culture, great personnel, great people at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and I really did enjoy the years that I spent there. That being said, Rob (Kauffman) provided us all of that and invested a lot into this sport.
"That being said, it's a business decision to move forward on his on his end and that's where our futures for he and I unfortunately just don't align anymore. That's where we were, that's the reason the statement is out. I think the timing behind this, the reason I'm in here right now is that it was very important to me knowing this that we got in front of our employees that have worked their ass off for me personally to make these four years good and successful. I think it was important that they as racers continue to race under this Chase format and compete for a championship in 2015. All the while knowing what their future holds and knowing that they have some security and as much time as possible to look and see what their futures hold for themselves as well. That's me included. There's going to be a lot of questions. I'm sure the next question is what does that mean for the future. That means the future for me is uncertain right now. We've got a lot of work to do, but again the time frame with this and the reason that we're here today is that Rob and I both agree that we owed it to these people to tell them as soon as possible that we worked on this as soon as we got back from the weekend until 11:30 or midnight and got to the conclusion to where we could tell these people as soon as possible. I mean that, it's important. There's a lot of lives at stake, a lot of families and I thought we owed it to them. With that, that's where we are. If you guys (media) have some questions, I don't mind clarifying some things if you need it, if I can, but there's a lot of unknowns at this point."
Q) Were you originally thinking you would also go over to Ganassi?
Bowyer: "Again, it all goes back to where we are in our situation. We're eight months into a three-year commitment. Again, Rob (Kauffman) has invested a tremendous amount into MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) and into this sport. That being said, he made a business decision to move forward and that direction as we all know from his previous statements is the Ganassi organization. For my career and me and my future, it's just unfortunate and Rob and I, our futures didn't align anymore. It's as simple as that. It was a mutually agreed upon thing and it was something that was not ugly and it was something that we did professionally and we made our decisions and that's why we're where we're at."
Q) Are you worried about the employees keeping the performance where it needs to be the rest of the season?
Bowyer: "It's very important, these people are people. These employees are real people with real lives with real families and a lot at stake. They're racers just like I am. The racer in you doesn't change the reality side of life and reality is that you need to provide for your family. I thought it was extremely important to me to get in front of that and I owed it to these employees to get this done as soon as possible even knowing where we're at on the bubble and everything in the Chase. I think being honest and being straightforward and doing that for these people in the long run will set them up to make the most out of a difficult situation for us all and that's me included. I need to start actively pursuing my career and that's what I'm doing. The first piece of the puzzle is set on the table and now we have to go to work on all of our behalves. As far as our performance just like you said, I thought it was more dangerous in more mind of making an announcement like we did in Pocono and not saying anything for another month and a half, we owe it to those people to be honest with them and it was not a day later than what we made our agreement that they were told."
Q) What is your relationship with 5-hour ENERGY?
Bowyer: "With 5-hour ENERGY, it's as simple as this – I've worked really hard in my career to have great partners. I've been with a lot of great companies and been a spokesperson for them. The relationships – very proud of the relationship and the partnership that I have with 5-hour, I think we can all agree how could there ever be a better fit to fit my lifestyle and the way my character and everything, I'm all about. It's a great fit. That being said, they're no different than I am. We're back to we didn't see this coming, we're both in a situation where we've got to see what the future holds for both of us and move forward from that."
Q) How much do you feel this stems from Richmond in 2013?
Bowyer: "I don't think it does at all and this is why. I think what happened in Richmond, that's two years ago. Since then Rob (Kaufmann) and everybody, the management has restructured, reorganized and we're a two-car team. We're not a three-car team, we're a two-car team, which by the way was fully funded on my car moving forward. It was again a business decision by Rob to do this and I'm proud to work for MWR and work for Rob. I'm happy for that experience, but to answer your question I just don't and that's because we were a two-car organization. We were setup and moving forward to a two-car organization. It wasn't like we were forced in a weird situation and that's my honest, legit answer to that."
Q) Are you looking to enter a long term or short term deal moving forward?
Bowyer: "Yes, keep talking and I'll keep telling you yes, absolutely. Those are all systems go. Again, it's like these people, these employees and what I'm telling you, that had to happen. You have to get that piece of the puzzle and the factual information on the table as soon as possible so we can all start working on our futures and what that holds. It's as simple as that. It all goes back to Pocono. We're all in this business together right? I didn't have a whole lot to tell you in Pocono and I really, it goes back to the statement at hand and the reason that we're here – what I'm going to have in the future and what that future holds for me will be another announcement and I'll tell you as soon as possible. It's as simple as that. I'm confident in the sport, I love this sport and the sport has been good to me and my family – had a lot of great partners and a lot of great organizations that I've worked for and I see no reason why somebody that works hard and wants it like I do in this sport can't have a job for as long as they want."
Q) How do you and the team achieve the goals at hand knowing what's ahead?
Bowyer: "I have a good team, we're racers. These guys are all racers at heart. After our announcement Wednesday, every single one of my guys and employees at MWR got up and obviously know the future, but my guys in particular these road guys that are on the road with me every week, all of them said, 'Listen, we have a job to do, you get your damn head straight and let's go after this championship and end this on a bang.' That's the fire, the desire and the passion that racers have and you can't take that from any of us. Very proud of my team and the people that were organized around me from day one at MWR and it hasn't changed today. We're going to do just that." Toyota Racing