Is NAPA On The Move?

Now that we know Carl Edwards is returning to Roush Fenway Racing next season, expect the rest of the Silly Season dominoes to start falling quickly.  But even though the Edwards drama is over, there is an aspect of the rumored move by Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing that seems to have been overlooked by some folks.  If Edwards did indeed end up taking over the #20 Home Depot ride, there was talk that JGR would start a fourth team with sponsorship from NAPA.  That sounded a little unbelievable considering NAPA currently has a deal with Martin Truex Jr. and Michael Waltrip Racing through 2012.  But in a recent article by Lee Spencer over at FOXSports.com, J.D. Gibbs admitted that NAPA had submitted an RFP to JGR regarding sponsorship.  So while they may have a contract with MWR through 2012, it appears the auto parts retailer could have an out in their deal and are exploring their options.

A possible reason why NAPA could be looking at other teams to sponsor for 2012 and beyond is the performance of MWR and Truex’s #56 team.  Since coming to MWR following the 2009 season, Truex’s results have been disappointing.  In 56 races, the #56 car only has one top five and thirteen top ten finishes.  This lack of performance led MWR to replace crew chief Pat Tryson in June (we questioned the move then), but a big turnaround has yet to happen.  Truex’s average finish in the seven races with new crew chief Chad Johnston has improved from 19.7 to 18.4, but the team has actually dropped two spots in the points.  And after nearly two seasons together, NAPA may have seen all they need to see.

Besides a possible fourth JGR entry, there are plenty of top tier teams in need of backing for 2012 and beyond.  Of the four Roush Fenway cars, only one (Greg Biffle’s #16) has sponsorship for next season.  Clint Bowyer appears to be on the cusp of re-signing with Richard Childress Racing, but sponsorship for his #33 has yet to be announced.  We’ve heard RCR might be close to locking down funding for Bowyer, and it’s not unrealistic to think NAPA could be in play here.  There could also be a million other possible combinations with Stewart-Haas needing more funding, drivers like Mark Martin and Brian Vickers available, or the possibility of a deal with a young driver (Trevor Bayne & Ricky Stenhouse Jr. come to mind).  The point being that NAPA has plenty of options.

Whether NAPA actually makes a move remains to be seen, but their availability could add a new wrinkle to what’s left of the Silly Season.  If they’ve already submitted an RFP to JGR, we’ve got to believe that they’ve inquired with other teams as well.  And like we mentioned on Twitter earlier today, don’t believe anything (like denials in this case) until a deal is actually done.

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16 Responses to “Is NAPA On The Move?”

  1. JT says:

    T.C., that was a well-written article.

    NAPA’s NASCAR sponsorship is at the center of their marketing program. NAPA is paying for a Chase team and getting mid-pack performance from MWR. With legitimate Chase-caliber teams – RFR, JGR, SHR and RCR all looking for more sponsors, NAPA would be foolish not to test the market.

    While were are speculating, I wonder what Home Depot will do now that JGR lost out on Carl Edwards? Rumor has it that Home Depot has given JGR a warning about the #20 team’s sub-par performance. And considering that Joey Logano doesn’t even crack the Top 10 NASCAR drivers on the Joyce Julius chart, Home Depot’s marketing department has to be concerned about the ROI.

  2. Sue Rarick says:

    If NAPA wants to become no more known than Advance, O’Reily or Auto Zone they could leave MWR.

    If you were to make a list of the 10 best known NASCAR commercials over the past decade, MW and NAPA would make up at least half of them. Love him or hate him MW is the best at making memorable commercials. Clint Boyer could win 5 races with NAPA sponsorship and more people would remember the commercial when MW was really struggling and he was answering a letter that said …”Mikey, Right foot gas, Left foot brake”.

    Just think who NAPA would have as their spokesperson, Kennseth, Boyer, Lagano? (yawn)I think watching paint dry would provide more excitement than any of those drivers possibly could.

  3. fireball doowah says:

    I’ve never understood NAPA’s long time relationship with MW & MWR. Must be MW dynamic personality!

  4. bentbob says:

    If NAPA dumps Mikey’s team, it could be curtains over there. The 00 team has been looking for funding since before it was born. The 56 team has struggled since it was the 55, with no real success to show over the years. Truex must be kicking himself for jumping off what appeared to be a sinking ship (only to win Daytona and Indy the next season) to a ship that was never really above water. Seeing what happened here is one of the biggest reasons that Edwards, Bowyer, et al tend to be happy with the know entity they drive for now.

  5. MS says:

    I agree with Sue. NAPA’s main focus should be the performance of their ad campaign and love him or hate him, MW gets superb ad recognition. Plus I’m 95% sure Truex is doing vocals on the songs and maybe even writing or co-writing them. All of that goes out the window if they bolt from MWR. So from NAPA’s business perspective its not so simple as it may first appear. I’m guessing the MWR associated ads are among the best performing ads for any team sponsor…not something to walk away from so easily…

  6. Neon says:

    Ditto what bentbob said. I would also add that NAPA is probably kicking themselves for following Mikey from DEI (now EGR) over to MWR. Those two Daytona wins went a loooooong way for Mikey. Then again I kinda see NAPA as standing for: Never About Performance only Advertising. Ok so I cheated on the grammar.

  7. ddsbstrb says:

    Sue….Waltrip’s NAPA commercials are about as funny as his….”Tipsy-Sock-Walk” after he wrecked the Landcruiser on Dog-Leg Road in the Spring of 2007! Remember that one?

    Seems like everyone has a belly-full of him, as far back as around 2006 or even earlier.

    I am really hoping that Jack Roush will be able to get those NAPA-decals onto one of his great Ford Fusions next season, and finally get them some well-deserved wins. I really wouldn’t mind if anybody’s team takes this away from him [MWR]!

    At least NAPA is getting a little “bang” for their racing sponsorship-bucks, as Ron Capps finally got a “Wally” out at Sonoma, last week-end. Pretty difficult with the domination, in NHRA, by Team Force and those Ford Mustangs, this season.

  8. Woogeroo says:

    If yer NAPA, you gotta be looking around at more competitive and deserving teams… they’ve had plenty of time to get going in the right direction.

    -W

  9. Zieke says:

    NAPA could do so much better then the “smoke and mirrors” bs from MWR. All they need to do is look around a little.

  10. MS says:

    I still say Sue has it right. NAPA is in the business of selling car parts, not racing. Probably the two most successful ad campaigns out there are NAPA and Nationwide. Nobody who responds to those ads really cares whether MW or Jr has won a race in the last decade…they’ll respond because they like MW or Jr and they like the products they’re pitching. If MW and team were having problems in the ad campaigns as well as having problems on the track, then sure, I could see NAPA trying something different. But who else behind the wheel can do squat in front of a camera but MW, Jr and Carl? Smoke and Kyle could maybe get honorable mentions but thats about it for the talent pool. So yeah, NAPA going after Carl/JGR makes 100% perfect sense because that would be an upgrade in their ad campaign abilities, but since that didn’t happen there really is no upgrade out there for them in terms of running an ad campaign. JMO of course.

  11. Kevin says:

    One thing you can say about Michael Waltrip. He jumps through hoops to represent his sponsors. He always has long term relationships with them. In that regard, he does a fantastic job.

  12. Steve S says:

    I guess I have to also agree with Sue, if I just wanted to watch the commericals, which I tune out, especially the corny NAPA ones. Most fans complain about all the commericals now and want to watch the racing and unless the #56 is either wrecking or getting lapped they don’t get much race air time. If NAPA moved to one of the top teams they would get not only air time during the race but some victory lane publicity also. It’s advertising money and people take what Carl, Jimmy, Tony and the other top shoes say more seriously and might be more inclined to use their products then the ones that joker Mikey or that son of frankenstein dude push in the current commericals.

  13. Michael in Boston says:

    Look how long his relationship with Citgo lasted! He was representing them years after vacating that car.

  14. ddsbstrb says:

    How about his relationship with UPS, Domino’s and Burger-King?

    Two years, I believe?

  15. Rick says:

    Completely burned out on all things Waltrip. If NAPA wants advertising only then find a real comedian. If they want advertising and performance then find a real race team.

  16. Mainerd says:

    One stat-Gibbs has one more races than anyone since 2008.4 more than Hendrix and no one else even close. NAPA needs some of that “Know How”.

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