Michael Waltrip Racing can breathe a public sigh of relief after 5 Hour Energy announced via its Facebook page Friday morning that it would return to the team to sponsor Clint Bowyer in 2014.
"This week the 5-hour ENERGY® team met after the New Hampshire race to discuss our future with Michael Waltrip Racing," the post said. "While our original plan was to announce the status of our sponsorship at the end of the year, this timeframe left many concerned about their future. There are scores of passionate fans, numerous charitable organizations, and hundreds of hard-working MWR employees and their families who are directly impacted by 5-hour ENERGY’s NASCAR sponsorship."
"After several internal discussions and meetings with MWR, we are prepared to announce our decision ahead of schedule. 5-hour ENERGY® will be back as a sponsor of MWR and Clint Bowyer for 2014. We look forward to another great year of competitive racing. Go 15!"
The president of 5 Hour, Brian Henderson, was at New Hampshire and according to the AP said "There's a lot of talk about integrity,'' he said. ''When the guy who's in charge can say, 'I can do whatever I want and I'm going to do it and I just did,' I wonder about integrity. I want to make sure we can win in this sport, OK?'' He then walked off.
Those comments looked to be in reference to NASCAR president Brian France, who in the wake of the MWR race manipulation allegations at Richmond, added Jeff Gordon to the Chase as a 13th car.
MWR was accused of having Bowyer and Brian Vickers slow down to ensure Joey Logano finished ahead of them at Richmond after Bowyer spun late in the race. That got Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase before he was penalized by NASCAR the following Monday. Last week, NAPA made the decision to leave Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the season.
NAPA was a full season sponsor for Truex. With the return of 5 Hour, the team now has two of its three cars funded, but is still looking for sponsorship for Truex.