Rob Kauffman, MWR Co-Owner, Scouring for Sponsorship

Martin Truex, Jr.

(WOMR file photo)

Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, calls it a “relatively low probability’’ that his car company would be the sole primary sponsor for Martin Truex Jr.’s team next season.

With NAPA recently announcing its departure from Michael Waltrip Racing, MWR must find about $15 million in sponsorship to fund Truex’s car for next season and keep him.

Kauffman’s company, RK Motors, has served as a primary sponsor for Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers’ cars in six races this year. Kauffman said that his company could “fill in a gap’’ on Truex’s car.

That would still leave MWR needing to find sponsorship for a majority of the races next year for the third car. Waltrip said last week that he asked Truex to give the team a little time before making a move elsewhere. Truex said earlier this weekend he had nothing new to report on his future.

Kauffman, who is based in London and a founding principal in an investment group, was making his first appearance Sunday at a track since the Richmond race. It was after the Richmond race that NASCAR penalized MWR for manipulating the finish. The net result was that Truex fell out of the Chase, NAPA broke its three-year contract, and will be leaving the team after this season.

While Michael Waltrip represents the public face of MWR, Kauffman represents the money! He became a co-owner of the team in Oct. 2007 at a time the organization was facing financial issues.

“If the team breaks even and is competitive, I’m happy,’’ Kauffman said. “I’m lucky enough that I don’t get my living from NASCAR, but it has to be commercially viable. That’s the parameters I work around.

“I’m generally not a quitter. I’m not a miracle worker, but I’m going to do my level best to power through this’’, Kauffman continued.

Kauffman said that he plans to remain in Charlotte until the situation is resolved.

As for what happened at Richmond, Kauffman said: “The team made mistakes. I think we’ve made a lot of progress at Michael Waltrip Racing the past seven years. It’s obviously a big setback. We’ve paid a heavy price. Now, I’m focused on what do we need to change to improve and field competitive cars and move forward.’’

Among NASCAR’s penalties for the Richmond race was the indefinite suspension of Ty Norris, the team’s general manager.

Asked about Norris’ status with the team, Kauffman said: “Hs status is that he’s a valuable member of Michael Waltrip Racing. I think that commenting on some specific person’s role in our organization is kind of inappropriate, but Ty has been a part of the organization since the beginning and remains having an integral role.’’

After hearing what both Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip have said regarding NAPA’s departure from MWR, and Martin Truex, Jr.’s future, where does that leave Truex?  For the time being, there is not a clear path that is laid out regarding where Truex will be in 2014.  Does he stay wIth MWR, and hope that they can gather up enough sponsorship dollars to fund the third car for the entire 2014 season?  Or does Truex gather up his belongings, and peddle his assets to another race organization?

The answer to that question may also depend on whether Truex can convince NAPA to attach themselves to Truex and another prominent powerhouse race team. The possibilities could be Richard Childress Racing and/or Joe Gibbs Racing?  Each of those organization have the capabilities to start a fourth race team. Likewise, Truex could easily find himself driving for Barney Vissor in the Furniture Row Racing #78 Chevy next year!

One last point to this whole scenario is that, because of the Richmond fiasco, MWR could find that their company has been put in grave financial peril because of a skewed sense of competition!



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