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MWR cutting back to 2 full-time teams
Michael Waltrip Racing met with employees on Monday afternoon to outline the organization’s plans for 2014.
MWR expanded its Sprint Cup program to a three-car operation in 2007 but NAPA’s decision not to return as a sponsor as the No. 56 Toyota in 2014, forced the company to realign with a 15-percent reduction of its workforce and two full-time teams with Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers and a partial schedule for the No. 56 squad with Michael Waltrip competing in the Daytona 500 and “selected races.”
“When a company is faced with losing roughly a third of its income, it’s forced to reorganize,” majority owner Rob Kauffman told FOXSports.com. “We looked at all kinds of different options. The constraint that Michael and I both thought was extremely important was not merely to just to survive but reorganize in such a way that we could post at or more competitive cars for the future.
“So we wound up with a restructuring that cut about 15 percent of the work force. With a third of your revenue going away it shows that with my continued investment in the company and our kind of focus to improve our performance and get that last one percent, that we can cross the line for the championship.”
Kauffman returned from holiday three weeks ago and settled in North Carolina to regroup following the fallout from MWR’s manipulating the outcome of the Sept. 7 race at Richmond International Raceway.
Both driver Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Rob Johnston were given permission “to explore all their options” earlier this month. Kauffman felt it was important “to provide clarity” to their staff. With five weeks remaining in the season, Kauffman wanted the other employees to have ample to search for jobs.
Waltrip said that remaining “fair to our people” was central to Kauffman’s timetable for the announcement, and reducing the workforce by just 15 percent despite losing more than a third of the company’s revenue.
“I think that shows you where Rob’s heart is but also where his goal is as a partner in Michael Waltrip Racing is as well – to make the company better despite the challenges we’ve been faced with,” Waltrip says. “That’s how we feel we can win a championship in 2014.”
While Kauffman described Jeff Burton as “a good and talented driver” there were no discussions with the veteran regarding the formation of a new team. Kauffman said there was nothing to talk about in terms of Burton’s further relationship with MWR.
Kauffman added that MWR’s relationship with Toyota had not been compromised from the downsizing. He characterized the Toyota relationship as “terrific supporters, very helpful through this period as they have been all along.”
As for the rumor of a name change for the organization, Kauffman said that wasn’t in the cards.
That’s the name of the team and that’s who our counterparties have signed up to work with and view it as a strong brand going forward,” Kauffman said. “Michael Waltrip is the name of the place and we plan on keeping it that way for the foreseeable future.”