February 26th, 2015
Speculation has been confirmed as Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that it would field only two full-time Sprint Cup Series teams in 2014. That drops from the three they currently have on track after sponsor NAPA pulled out for the 2014 season after the cheating allegations during the Richmond race last month.
The team has branded it “reorganization” as it will use its third team as a test team during the year. That team will run a partial schedule, starting with the 2014 Daytona 500 with team co-owner Michael Waltrip behind the wheel. Curiously, no number was mentioned so it’s likely they will stop using the 56 that is on the car now.
“Our goals for the reorganization were twofold, firstly to improve the competitiveness of our race teams and, secondly maintain a stable organizational structure,” said co-owner Rob Kauffman. “The team’s focus has been to find that last one percent needed to move from Chase participant to Cup champion. This realignment will get us closer to that last one percent.”
With reducing the third team to part-time, it will force Michael Waltrip Racing to reduce its workforce by 15%.Those affected by the move were informed during a team meeting Monday. Among those told they are free to look elsewhere is current driver Martin Truex, Jr. and crew chief Chad Johnston.
“Today was about doing what we had to do not what we wanted to do,” Kauffman added. “It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season.”
More Michael Waltrip Racing news includes that Scott Miller, currently the interim crew chief for the #55 Toyota will be the full-time crew chief for 2014 in addition to being the vice president of competition.
According to Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press, Ty Norris, the person who took most of the heat from Richmond, will remain with the team. He will be in a new role, executive director of business development. In the new role he will not spot nor have any direct input into the competition side of the business.