Michael Waltrip Racing won’t be racing Sprint Cup in 2016; Clint Bowyer free to pursue other opportunities

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Michael Waltrip Racing will cease to field full-time entries in the Sprint Cup Series next season.

The team announced the news Wednesday morning and said driver Clint Bowyer would be free to pursue other opportunities after the season. MWR still will field the No. 15 Toyota of Bowyer and the No. 55 of David Ragan through the last 13 races this year.

“MWR will race hard and compete for the remainder of the 2015 season,” MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said in a release from the team. “This decision was made after weighing several different options and scenarios.

“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.

“Clint Bowyer has done a lot for MWR since joining us in 2012, and we appreciate the energy and effort he has given the organization. After many discussions, Clint and I agreed we would go our separate ways at the end of the season, and I wish him well in whatever direction he pursues.”

Kauffman announced July 30 that he had agreed to purchase an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Two days later at Pocono Raceway, he said he planned to “integrate” the organization with Ganassi.

The Sports Business Daily initially reported that Kauffman would bring Bowyer and sponsor 5-hour Energy to Ganassi’s team, expanding to a third car. But Ganassi employees were told Wednesday morning the organization wouldn’t add another car.source: Getty Images

Bowyer, who had joined MWR from Richard Childress Racing in 2012, also delivered a brief statement at Pocono, saying he intended to focus on making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With three races remaining in the regular season, he is in the final cutoff spot for qualifying for the 10-race playoff on points.

“I want to thank Michael, Rob and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing that made these past four years special,” Bowyer said in the team’s release Wednesday. “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.”

Michael Waltrip Racing entered the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2007 as one of the flagship teams for Toyota’s first foray into NASCAR’s premier circuit.

The team endured a rocky start when an illegal fuel additive found in Waltrip’s car in qualifying for the season-opening Daytona 500 resulted in a heavy points penalty, fines and a crew chief suspension. Waltrip failed to qualify for 19 races in 2007, and the team lost major sponsors in Domino’s and Burger King. Its finances were stabilized by the arrival of Kauffman, a billionaire hedge fund investor who bought into the organization in the fall of ’07.

MWR made incremental strides toward success, qualifying Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr for the Chase in ’12 and finishing runner-up in points. But things began unraveling again the next season when a team orders scandal in the regular season-finale at Richmond International Raceway resulted in Truex being booted from the Chase by NASCAR. His sponsor, NAPA, withdrew its sponsorship after the season, and MWR contracted from three to two cars.

The team hasn’t won since Bowyer’s victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2012.

“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,” Waltrip said in the release. “From where MWR started behind my house in Sherrill’s Ford (N.C.) to winning Sprint Cup races, poles and earning Chase berths, I am proud of what we accomplished.

“My family has been a part of NASCAR for almost five decades, and I plan on being a part of it for years to come. I would not have had the opportunity to start this journey without so many great partners, sponsors and employees, and I want to thank each of them for making Michael Waltrip Racing a reality.”

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter