The Michael Waltrip Racing majority owner is moving elsewhere in the Cup garage, buying a stake in Chip Ganassi Racing.
After weeks of speculation, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates confirmed on Thursday that Rob Kauffman will invest in the organization.
CGR released the following statement: "We confirm that Rob Kauffman has agreed to acquire an interest in the team. Further discussions regarding the 2016 season and beyond are underway.
When Motorsport.com asked Kauffman, the principle owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19 whether he was entertaining a partnership with Ganassi and a move from Toyota, he replied. “We’ve been a Toyota team from the get go and we’re totally focussed on hopefully getting both cars in the Chase. That’s what it’s all about. Next year will come up next year.”
Next year apparently came up on Thursday.
Michael Waltrip Racing statement
MWR also confirmed Kauffman’s purchase:
“Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The companies will continue to operate separately and compete against each other for the remainder of the 2015 season. They are also currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond. More details will follow in due course.”
"My focus is on 2015 and fulfilling the commitment we have made to our partners and Toyota which is placing our teams in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup," said Michael Waltrip. "There are a lot of details yet to be sorted regarding 2016. I will work closely with Rob Kauffman and our sponsors to formulate the best way forward."
Felix Sabates told Motorsport.com yesterday that he's 'not going anywhere' after speculation that Kauffman would take over his stake in the race team.
This is not the first time that Ganassi has merged with another team. In 2009, Ganassi absorbed Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Martin Truex Jr. With no fanfare whatsoever, Ganassi finally dropped the Earnhardt name after the 2013 season.
Bowyer's future to be with CGR?
Sources told Motorsport.com that Clint Bowyer and 5-hour Energy would be included in the current deal. Bowyer is in the first year of a three-year deal.
Aaron’s, the sponsor of the No. 55 Toyota — and a supporter of Waltrip’s since 2000 — has yet to renew.
“In this day and time, you have to keep your options open because (NASCAR) has gotten so expensive that’s it’s hard for a two car team to really make it,” Felix Sabates told motorsport.com on Sunday. “You’ve got to share all of your resources.
“It’s the new norm. Childress has sold part of his deal. Rick (Hendrick) is probably the only team that would never…but I guarantee you, if someone put a bunch of money in front of Joe Gibbs, he’ll take a partner.”
"We’ve spoken with Rob Kauffman and understand he has agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Rob has not disclosed the plans for Michael Waltrip Racing past the 2015 racing season. Toyota and TRD remain focused on winning races and championships with our team partners this year," said Ed Laukes, Vice President marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS).