While making the Chase is imperative financially for many teams, including Michael Waltrip Racing, even more imperative is a big dollar sponsor.
That's what NAPA has been for Michael Waltrip Racing since the team's inception. They're the sponsor of Martin Truex Jr., who was knocked out of the Chase after the 50 point penalty assessed to his team (as well as the teams of Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers) in the aftermath of the spin and slowdown events of the final few laps at Richmond Saturday night.
On Wednesday, NAPA released a statement on its Facebook page saying that in light of the events Saturday night, it's launching a review to determine the future of the company's partnership with MWR.
The actions taken by Michael Waltrip’s Racing team this past weekend leading to the penalties assessed by NASCAR, are very concerning. We are disappointed that a partner associated with our organization would make such a significant error in judgment. In addition, we have launched our own review to determine the future of our partnership with Michael Waltrip’s Racing team. The NAPA AUTO PARTS organization is proud of its long-standing NASCAR relationship. We share a passion with our customers for high quality racing and seek to determine the best course of action for our customers, NASCAR fans, and the NAPA organization.
Those are strong words, especially when you consider that the company stood by MWR in 2007 when the team had an illegal substance found in its intake manifolds. On Tuesday, 5 Hour Energy, Bowyer's sponsor, issued a similar statement.
We respect NASCAR's penalties against MWR & are addressing our sponsorship relations internally. We appreciate your understanding & patience
— 5-hour ENERGY® (@5hourenergy) September 10, 2013
Could the situation get worse for MWR before it gets better? If any of its major sponsors decide to leave the team because of what happened, it would be a far more crippling blow than a $300,000 fine and three 50 point penalties would be.