Why In the World Would MWR Let Bayne Walk?

In what can only be described as a surprising move, Michael Waltrip Racing has released Trevor Bayne.  The move was confirmed by Martin Truex Jr. today on Sirius Speedway.  Truex himself will be in the #99 Diamond-Waltrip NNS car at Kansas this weekend.  From what we’ve heard, there is a great deal of interest in Bayne from other teams, most notably Roush Fenway, so expect his future to be just fine.  But this situation certainly begs the question, what the hell is Waltrip thinking?

At the end of 2009, Bayne signed a three year deal with Waltrip that was supposed to include a full NNS ride for 2010 and 2011, along with a partial Cup schedule for 2011.  The aim of the deal was to get Bayne ready for a full time Cup ride for the 2012 season.  According to reports though, MWR had a contract option due for Bayne that came up on September 15, but that date came and went without any action.  Speculation began then on what Bayne’s future held, and was fueled further by rumors that Truex would be driving the #99 at some point.  Bayne then began seeking out other teams, and we heard that he was recently seen touring the Roush Fenway Racing complex in Concord.

The most obvious explanation for MWR releasing Bayne is their sponsorship situation.  No team can afford to run without backing, and if Waltrip was unable to put together a sponsorship package for Bayne, keeping him around maybe wasn’t an option.  But it’s curious that they would let him go before the season was even complete.  If they were as high on Bayne as it would seem, you’d think they would wait until the very last minute before releasing the driver, so as to give their business people ample time to track down a deal.  The young driver has run very well over the last few months of the season and appears to only be getting better.  He currently sits seventh in the Nationwide Series standings.

Another explanation is one that also involves money, but is on Bayne’s side.  Kenny Wallace floated on his Twitter that Bayne lost his ride because he didn’t bring the money to the deal that he was supposed to.  We can’t confirm this little bit of information, but it certainly brings up an interesting situation.  If it’s true, MWR is letting a talented driver go because he was supposed to help pay for his own ride, but for whatever reason didn’t come up with the cash.  It would also seem that if this is indeed the case, Bayne isn’t valuable enough to MWR to keep around if there is no money behind him.

All signs now point to MWR putting Ryan Truex (Martin’s younger brother) in their #99 NNS car for some of the remaining 2010 schedule, and for 2011.  Truex has been a Waltrip development driver for a few seasons now, and has racked up two K&N Pro Series East championships.  Truex obviously has talent, but the Bayne situation makes me wonder what it’s costing the Truex family to put Ryan in MWR equipment.  It also spawns the question, who is a better prospect, Truex or Bayne?

Like I said before, Bayne’s availability has sparked interest from other teams, so don’t be surprised to hear an announcement about his future over the next few weeks.  He is obviously a very talented driver, and he’s proven that he can race with not only the best in the Nationwide Series, but also the best in the Cup Series (who drop by the NNS periodically).  Waltrip may soon regret ever letting Bayne get away.

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24 Responses to “Why In the World Would MWR Let Bayne Walk?”

  1. steven says:

    Wasn’t Waldrip in the Danica Sweepstakes? A moneygrab if I ever saw one. It had nothing to do with talent.

  2. Keith_KaGee says:

    Guys, why is no one talking about the bigger issue of the NNS and CWTS teams on the brink of going away because of sponsorship issues? It appears that Trevor and Brian Scott are just the recent casualties.

  3. mikeyfan5599 says:

    While I am as shocked as anyone that Trevor is being let go, I think the deal is when looking at the future of the Cup series there is room for a 3rd team and that spot will go to Ryan Truex. Ryan was the REASON, Michael was able to sign Martin to a long term contract and it would not surprise me, if Martin didn’t have an escape clause in his contract basically stating if Michael didn’t provide Ryan with a ride in ____ number of years then Martin had the right to walk away. This left Michael with a decision, Trevor or Ryan & Martin Truex, he chose the latter which may or may not be the best move for MWR. Only time will be able to tell, but satisfying NAPA and his other cup sponsors come first. Besides, Sponsors would be more willing to jump on board with a driver guaranteed a cup spot in the future than a driver with Potential, but no guarantees.

  4. Joe says:

    Trevor certainly appears to be a really good driver and I think Michael should figure out a way to keep him in the Nationwide car. But we all know that dollars make sense, letting this kid go doesn’t seem to.

  5. Lurker says:

    Bayne wasn’t the problem it was his DAD and the people representing Trevor. From what I heard he was offered a 18 race deal next year and turned it down.

  6. Neon says:

    Folks, the very fact that NAPA has spent so much coin on Waltrip for so many years as a sub-par driver and now marginally better owner makes me wonder why anyone would question a move based on dollars vs talent.

  7. Kevin says:

    I read somewhere that Trevor’s deal with MWR was based on MWR having sponsership in place for the entire 2011 season for Bayne. I would assume there was a deadline for that to happen. If that was the 15th & Bayne has been released, I would assume Trevor is taking the opportunity to seek out a better paycheck/ride as his contract with MWR gave him the option to get out.

  8. erb224 says:

    Two words: Gary Bechtel. From what I gather the guy was funding Bayne (the Diamond part of Diamond/Waltrip). Maybe he’s not funding anymore… Then this makes sense.

  9. Matt says:

    It is clear that its politics, and MWR has made the wrong choice. Its doesnt take a team owner to see that Trevor Bayne has a championship future in Nascar. I have been a fan of Nascar for over 10 years now, and I couldnt believe when I heard that MWR released Bayne from the car this year!! I could understand if they could not put some thing together for next year but its a slap in the face to let him go mid season when he is in 7th in the points his first season. There is other drivers in the same boat ie… Justin Alligaier for example however their team owners are doing the respectful thing and letting them finish out the season. I guess MWR is trying to hender Bayne because they know that they will have to run against him next year. This the only reason I could think of to let him go mid season. With the good season they have had and they still cant put anything together for next season they should let the marketing people go not the driver.

  10. Zieke says:

    I have always seriously doubted MW’s business sense. Once you get past the BS, he is all smoke and mirrors. These sponsors are one by one finding this out. A Rick Hendrick or etc. would never have let himself into a situation as this.

  11. Katelyn says:

    FYI, Michael Waltrip Racing is the minority owner of Diamond Waltrip Racing, Gary Bechtel is the majority owner. MWR, itself, signed Trevor Bayne to a 5 yrs deal for the Cup Series, depending on sponsorship, earlier this year. Unfortunately they didn’t get the sponsorship for Bayne and they released him early so they could start Ryan, who already has a contract with MWR, not DWR. MW let Trevor go early so he could find a ride for next year and get an early start with that team, which seems to be very admirable. I, for one, knows that MW hates losing such a talented driver and good person as Trevor Bayne. I wish him the best.

    Also, Ryan Truex will be driving the #99 and his brother Martin will be in the #00 this weekend.

  12. Doug in CA says:

    It’s sad that it really isn’t about the drivers any more. Danica is a smart deal, so is Junior, so is Paul Menard: they may not bring wins, but they bring money. That’s the reality, folks, in this era where Dover looked to be about maybe 2/3 full (and that’s generous). Jeff freaking GORDON is short of sponsors next year!!!

    I just try to enjoy the product on the track; the business part sure ain’t fun.

  13. mikeyfan5599 says:

    Wow, Matt a fan for a whole 10 years, Let’s see you jumped in on the Dale Junior bandwagon, after his dad died didn’t you? Well, unfortunately it happens quite often that teams let drivers go early for various reasons, one being the driver requested to be released because they are negotiating with someone else, Money can be a problem as in sponsorship, and last but not least the sponsor can ask the owner to remove a driver. That probably happens more than one thinks.

    So to Michael is trying to hender Trevor, I say you don’t have a clue to what is going on. Take a look are read some articles. Dale Jr. can’t find sponsorship for his 88 Nationwide team and he’s the most popular driver in the garage. Money is tight all around and If sponsorship is a reason, then I would be willing to bet the departure was a mutual thing between Michael and Trevor. I know this, Michael would have loved to have both Trevor and Ryan in a cup car if sponsorship was available along with David and Martin.

  14. What a shame 2 let a young [great driver ] go. hope roush gets him.

  15. Fran in Atlanta says:

    If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, Bayne chose to “take advantage” of his opportunity to see if he could “better himself.” I think he chose the wrong economy in which to do it. Look at how hard Almarola (sp?) has had to work at getting back to where he was before he and Gibbs broke up.

  16. Michael says:

    Bad Move on Waltrip’s part. Bayne is holding his own as a Nationwide Only team against the Cup Heavy teams. Any team will be lucky to have Bayne as their driver, heck if I was starting a new Nationwide Team I would hire up Bayne in a heart beat and let him go out and prove he can hang with the big boys.

    If Roush gets him…. David Ragan will be gone in a couple years when Bayne gets enough experience in the Nationwide Series and Bayne will be driving the 6. As long as JR Motorsports don’t sign him… than we are good because of how talented Bayne is him driving for JR Motorsports means a short cut to drive for Rick Hendrick and for as talented as he is, that would mean more Hendrick Dominance so as long as he signs with Roush or some other team, it will all be good.

  17. Modified says:

    I used to be a Big Mikey fan. But I got tired of his (No it all, It’s all about me) syndrom, MDR played the same game with McDowell and Wise. I realize money is the core problem. Personally, I think any driver running good in ARCA, should stay there til a nascar owner and sponsor is willing to pay with minimum two year clause contract. That way the driver can keep driving in ARCA while learning and making a fair living til someone puts up the cash.

  18. Doug in CA says:

    Modified, let’s say I have a Cup team and tell ARCA driver, “I can put you in a Cup car for at least 20 races next season, and we’re working on the remaining races. I figure you’ll make more in three Cup starts than you do in an average ARCA season. But again, I can’t make any firm promise past 20 races.”

    You’d tell me to pound sand?

  19. The Saint says:

    Want to know what role money is playing in these decisions? Look no further at the driver and sponsor listed for Robby Gordon’s No. 7 this weekend. That’s all you need to know.

    Owners are DESPERATE for money right now, and money is trumping talent. That means a hack like Kevin Conway with sponsorship has a ride, while talented veterans and promising rookies are sitting on the sidelines. It is going to get worse before it gets better.

  20. abovetheshop says:

    Bayne is a tragedy of not having the money, plus Truex Jr. making a smart play by making sure if he signed with MWR that his brother was taken care of…at Bayne’s expense. To me, who really didn’t do their job? Bayne’s in the car running up front…shouldn’t the sales team at MWR take some heat as well? Bayne should bounce back though…an owner like Roush should jump on him. With that said, I do think Ryan Truex will do well too.

    Another great example #19. I think it shows one of many problems with this sport. The dishonesty and just lack of professionalism with all the “executives” of NASCAR, Teams, etc, etc. Don’t expect things to get better either, while these snakes are putting money in their greedy pockets…the only people who will suffer right now are the hard working employees.

    The only beautiful moment for this sport these days is when the cars take the green flag.

  21. tenn.fan13 says:

    Trevor Bayne is a very talented young driver. Waltrip (in my opinion) made a stupid move. Any team that gets him will be very lucky. I would say a bunch of people will be after him.

  22. Chandler says:

    Trevor and I go way back and he is one of the best drivers i have ever seen. MWR made a mistake letting him go, but he has found a ride now and will pay MWR there well desreve dues on the track!

    and Ryan Truex is no where near the driver or person that Bayne is.

  23. CHARLES says:

    Yes MWR Did make a mistake letting Trever go Ryan must have brought something to the table or sorry i ment to say Martin brought his money to the table. Thank-you kk fan

  24. Chandler says:

    hahahahaha CHARLES i am going to have to agree with you.

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