MWR to field three Cup cars in 2014

Michael Waltrip Racing will field a third car in 2014.

Despite NAPA’s decision not to return to MWR in 2014, and driver Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Chad Johnston opting to move on, team owner Rob Kauffman told that three teams will operate out of the shop next year.

“We’ll have two full-time cars and a third car that will run part-time,” Kauffman said. “It’s really kind of as simple as that. It’s not going to run for the championship – so it will have the flexibility to try stuff – but the same as everybody else has to pass tech each week and make sure everything’s correct.

“But it is a third car. It will help us keep the core of the team a little bit more substantial by keeping the engineering staff full, the pit crews are still able to keep in practice and keep going through the motions, so if in ’15 we can scale back up to a third car, the infrastructure would still be in place. “It’s kind of a little bit of a diet, then maybe you can get back to a playing weight by ’15.”

In 2007, MWR expanded its Sprint Cup program to run two full-time teams and a part-time effort. The following year, the organization added more races to the third car. When Mark Martin became available in 2012, the company began building the third team again and continued with that effort this season. However, MWR experienced a setback at Richmond International Raceway in September when the organization was accused of manipulating the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Regardless, MWR has solid support from 5-hour Energy for the No. 15 Toyota and Clint Bowyer. Bowyer is currently seventh in the point standings (before Sunday’s race). Aaron’s will continue its support on the No. 55 and driver Brian Vickers when he returns to action in 2014. Vickers was diagnosed with a blood clot last month and has been sidelined since.

When asked who the driver would be for the third car, Kauffman said coyly, “There is one.”

Pressed whether that driver was Jeff Burton, he replied, “There is a list.”