Toyota, sponsor Aaron's address Michael Waltrip Racing decision
Two companies closely aligned with Michael Waltrip Racing have issued statements in reaction to Wednesday's news that the organization will not field full-time Sprint Cup Series teams in 2016.
MWR, which joined NASCAR's top division in 2007 as one of three teams to lead Toyota's entry into the Sprint Cup Series, will continue to field the Toyotas of Clint Bowyer and David Ragan through season's end.
In the aftermath of Wednesday's announcement, both Toyota and longtime MWR sponsor Aaron's -- now the primary sponsor on Ragan's No. 55 car -- weighed in on the situation.
"We want to thank everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing for a great partnership and for being part of our 'freshman class' -- one of the race teams that helped us enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series nine years ago," Toyota said in a statement Thursday morning that was attributed to Ed Laukes, the vice president marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
"Clint Bowyer has been a valuable member of the Toyota Racing family for the past four years, and we will continue to support him, and the rest of the MWR team through the end of the 2015 season. We wish everyone associated with the team the best of luck in the future and we look forward to closing out the season focused on competing for a championship."
The Toyota statement followed a statement from Aaron's released late Wednesday.
"We've had a great partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing for the past 15 years and they are like family to us," the Aaron's statement read. "We want to thank the MWR family for their hard work, passion and competitive spirit. They have played an important role in helping us build the Aaron's brand over the years.
"NASCAR will be an important part of our future and we are evaluating options for 2016 and beyond. However, our first priority is on making the rest of the season a great one."