“I am grateful for the opportunity that Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota have provided me this year”, Ragan said in a statement.
Rob Kauffman, co-owner of MWR, and Bowyer announced Wednesday the parties mutually have agreed to separate at season’s end.
But what was surprising is how the news impacted Clint Bowyer.
Founded by two-time Daytona 500 winner Waltrip in 2007, MWR entered Sprint Cup competition as Toyota’s flagship team. The Richmond race-fixing scandal they were both part of in 2013 sent the organization on a downward slide from which it could never fully recover. Bowyer is one of the most affable personalities in NASCAR.
Waltrip, who is also an analyst for Fox, was nostalgic Wednesday over his efforts to grow a team from the backyard of his North Carolina home into a viable competitor that competed for the Sprint Cup title in 2012 with Bowyer. “I want to thank all of our staff, partners, sponsors and fans for all their effort and support over the years”. Clint is a great ambassador for our products, customers and retailers.
“Brandt has expressed an interest in what we’re doing and Justin wants to come back, I think”, Scott said.
They know now that their futures aren’t at MWR. From where MWR started behind my house in Sherrill’s Ford 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”, Waltrip said.
Bowyer and Ragan and their teams will finish the current season with MWR. Aaron’s, another longtime MWR partner, has not renewed for 2016.
“I want to thank Michael, Rob and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing that made these past four years special”, said Bowyer, a 36-year-old native of Emporia, Kan. “I love the culture we’ve built there”.
The team will continue to field the #15 and #55 Toyotas for the remainder of the 2015 Sprint Cup season. “At 29-years-old, I feel my best years are in front of me”. The car, sponsored by Aaron’s, is currently driven by David Ragan after Brian Vickers was sidelined with blood clots earlier this season.
Bowyer scored the most recent of his eight career Cup wins for MWR at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2012. And though each possesses room to expand, Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske and Richard Childress Racing do not present viable alternatives due to other plans in place.
After that, Bowyer would have more options.
Bowyer’s departure has been expected for nearly a month.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick is locked in. Allgaier is in a contract year and said at Indianapolis he was hoping to have his contract signed “yesterday”. Could Bowyer drive at SHR in 2017? He also said he would be joining the ownership group at Chip Ganassi Racing. And our employees are our teammates.
In the meantime, it doesn’t sound like hooking up with Ganassi for one year is an option for Bowyer if Kauffman buys into the team, as the owner stated he planned to.