NAPA Auto Parts is severing ties with Martin Truex Jr. and Michael Waltrip Racing, ending the sponsorship at the end of the current season just 13 months into a three-year extension.
NAPA was outspoken against the team following the Sept. 7 race in Richmond, when teammate Clint Bowyer prevented Ryan Newman from winning the race by intentionally spinning out with just seven laps to go. NASCAR acted swiftly to remove Truex from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and fined MWR $300,000.
NAPA is the primary sponsor for the No. 56 Toyota Camry and pays at least $12 million annually to be the named sponsor for the entire schedule.
"NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR," NAPA said in a statement. "We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports."
Without sponsorship, Truex could lose his car, and the MWR team, which includes Bowyer and Brian Vickers, would be forced to cut its workforce significantly.
"There is no doubt, the story of Michael Waltrip Racing begins with NAPA Auto Parts, but there are many more chapters yet to be written," the team said in a statement. "MWR has the infrastructure and support of Toyota for three teams plus three Chase-caliber, race-winning drivers. With the support of our corporate partners, we are preparing to field three teams in 2014. MWR is a resilient organization capable of winning races and competing for the championship, and that remains our sole focus."
Kevin Harvick sent his support to Truex via Twitter when the announcement was made.
"@MartinTruexJr56 is one of the the best people you will ever meet... Feel bad for him & his team.. Keep your heads up!," Harvick wrote.