The optimism that Michael Waltrip Racing had after the departure of long-time sponsor NAPA about running three cars full-time next season has met reality.
And it's a two-car reality.
The team informed employees Monday that it would be running two cars next season and that the No. 56 currently driven by Martin Truex Jr. would run a part time schedule next year, starting with Michael Waltrip in the 2014 Daytona 500.
According to a team release, 15 percent of its employees would be laid off because of the reductions.
“Today was about doing what we had to do not what we wanted to do,” team co-owner Rob Kauffman said in a statement. “It was important to let those whose jobs were affected know as early as possible, and a majority of those will remain with MWR through the end of the season.”
Truex's future is up in the air. MWR has told both he and crew chief Chad Johnston to explore their options and Truex could be headed to Furniture Row Racing to replace Kurt Busch.
Truex was set to make the Chase after Richmond, but was kicked out after a 50 point penalty was handed to each of the three MWR cars after the Richmond race. Clint Bowyer, who is currently in the Chase, spun in the waning laps and both he and Vickers subsequently slowed before the checkered flag to ensure that they finished behind Joey Logano.
That meant that Logano got in the Chase via the top 10 and Truex earned one of the Wild Card positions. Well, until NASCAR's penalties, anyway.
NAPA announced that it would be leaving the team before the second race of the Chase at New Hampshire. Shortly after that, 5-Hour Energy, Bowyer's sponsor, said that it would return to the team. Earlier in the season, Aaron's signed a two-year deal to sponsor Vickers for 2014 and 2015. NAPA has not signed a sponsorship deal with any other team for next season and is expected by many to not be involved in the sport in a significant sponsorship capacity in 2014.