Michael Waltrip Racing will not field cars full-time in the Sprint Cup Series following 2015.
Michael Waltrip Racing announced on Wednesday that it had granted Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer a release from his contract at the conclusion of the 2015 NASCAR season.
In addition, co-owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman announced the MWR organization would not field a full-time entry in the Cup series in 2016.
“MWR will race hard and compete for the remainder of the 2015 season. This decision was made after weighing several different options and scenarios,” Kauffman said in a statement.
“I felt it was important to make an announcement as soon as we had clarity, so that is what we are doing today. I want to thank all of our staff, partners, sponsors and fans for all their effort and support over the years.
MWR will continue to field the No. 15 and No. 55 Toyotas for the remainder of the 2015 season. David Ragan currently drives the No. 55.
I am looking forward to what future opportunities may come but for now we have a championship to pursue in 2015 and we owe it to every one of our sponsors, partners, employees and fans to deliver on and off the track.
“I want to thank Michael, Rob and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing that made these past four years special,” Bowyer said. “After extensive discussions with Rob and MWR, we came to the point that we mutually agreed our paths in the future just didn’t align but I think we all agreed on the next steps in a very professional manner.
“I am looking forward to what future opportunities may come but for now we have a championship to pursue in 2015 and we owe it to every one of our sponsors, partners, employees and fans to deliver on and off the track.”
Bowyer, 36, joined MWR in 2012 following eight seasons with Richard Childress Racing where he won the 2008 Xfinity Series title and four of his Sprint Cup wins. But Bowyer has not won a race since his first season at MWR and missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup last season for the first time since 2009. Bowyer’s best result in title hunt was second in 2012. Bowyer is currently 15th in the Sprint Cup standings.
Deal still unsigned
Last month, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates confirmed that Kauffman – a principal owner of MWR – would invest in that organization.
On July 30, MWR released a statement saying, “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.”
At the time, sources told motorsport.com that the move of Bowyer and his primary sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, was expected to be part of the deal involving Kauffman’s move to Ganassi.
In a statement Wednesday, Waltrip said the organization would continue to compete hard for the remainder of the season.
“Rob joined MWR in 2007 and has helped give us the resources to build a competitive race team, and in 2012, Clint Bowyer took us to the doorstep of a championship. From where MWR started behind my house in Sherrill’s Ford to winning Sprint Cup races, poles and earning Chase berths, I am proud of what we accomplished,” Waltrip said.
“I felt it was important to make an announcement as soon as we had clarity, so that is what we are doing today. I want to thank all of our staff, partners, sponsors and fans for all their effort and support over the years.”