As expected, Michael Waltrip Racing’s PR department came out with a response today to our report from last week (June 3rd) that they were having some financial difficulties. They, of course, denied that there were any problems with the team and that they were as strong as ever.
After having our post picked up by Jayski yesterday, our site was inundated with traffic, comments, and emails from readers. Some good, some bad. And we appreciate both kinds. So I thought I’d take a minute to respond to some of them.
First, the information that our post was based on was not made up, fabricated, or some sort of wild speculation. Employees were let go, and given the reason we specified. And it wasn’t just one employee. Beyond that, the fact remains that both NAPA and UPS have sponsorship contracts that end after this season and UPS has been openly shopping for another team. All three Cup Series teams are lower then 28th in the points, with Waltrip’s #55 team falling out of the top 35 last Sunday at Pocono. In the current climate of NASCAR, sponsorship has been very difficult to come by, with some very successful teams having limited or no sponsorship. Knowing that both companies may be looking, its not a stretch to think that a lot of Cup Series owners have made phone calls inquiring. And, with good teams being available, why wouldn’t UPS and NAPA look elsewhere? The return on investment could be a lot better with another team.
Second, at no point in the post did we say that Michael Waltrip Racing was closing its doors. Financial trouble does not mean bankrupt or dead. We just stated that they are in trouble. With that said though, if MWR can’t secure sponsorship for its three Cup teams and Nationwide Series program for 2009 and beyond, teams will be shut down. That is a fact of racing that nobody can dispute.
In terms of Michael Waltrip’s partners and Toyota, I’d like to remind people that although racing is a sport, at the end of the day its a business. It doesn’t matter how much money and resources Toyota, Robert Kauffman, or Cal Wells have. If the team doesn’t have sponsorship and isn’t at least breaking even, they won’t continue to back it. Kauffman and Toyota didn’t get to where they are today by making bad investment decisions. They will not continue to sink money into the team just because its a NASCAR team with a famous name on the front door.
As the season progresses, I certainly wish all the best to Michael Waltrip and his race team. I believe both David Reutimann and Michael McDowell are very solid drivers to build a successful team off of and hope they do have success. And, being a crew member myself, I definitely don’t want to see anybody lose their job. Especially since I know people at MWR. But facts are facts, and when you really sit down and start putting them together, MWR has a very tough road ahead.
We here at The Nascar Insiders are working very hard to bring the best possible content to our readers. Both Journo and myself have a lot we would like to share in terms of the sport and our involvement with it. Our posts will continue to include experiences, commentary, and the occasional breaking news. Those that question our authenticity are certainly welcome to. I would probably do the same. We are still a very young blog and know that respect and integrity aren’t something built over night. But we are indeed who we say we are, and will continue to bring you an inside view on a sport that very few people ever get a chance to be apart of.