Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Sprint Cup [Print without images]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Waltrip sponsors review partnerships

ESPN.com news services

Two of Michael Waltrip Racing's sponsors are reviewing their relationships with the team following the organization's attempt to manipulate the finish at Richmond.

NAPA Auto Parts posted on its Facebook page Wednesday it has "launched our own review to determine the future of our partnership" with MWR. NAPA is the sponsor for Martin Truex Jr., who lost his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Car championship when NASCAR sanctioned MWR for its actions in Saturday night's race.

"The actions taken by Michael Waltrip's racing team this past weekend leading to the penalties assessed by NASCAR are very concerning. We are disappointed that a partner associated with our organization would make such a significant error in judgment," NAPA said in a statement.

Also, 5-Hour Energy, which sponsors Clint Bowyer, tweeted that it is reviewing the situation. Bowyer's car spun with seven laps left in Saturday's race and radio communications between he and his crew chief prompted NASCAR to investigate whether MWR tried to manipulate the finish to get Truex into the 12-driver Chase field.

We respect NASCAR's penalties against MWR & are addressing our sponsorship relations internally. We appreciate your understanding & patience

— 5-hour ENERGY® (@5hourenergy) September 10, 2013

NASCAR on Monday fined MWR $300,000, suspended general manager Ty Norris indefinitely, docked Bowyer, Truex and Brian Vickers 50 points each and placed their crew chiefs on probation through the end of the year. Truex was replaced in the Chase by Ryan Newman.

After first avoiding the question, Bowyer denied in an interview Tuesday with ESPN that he intentionally spun his car in an effort to keep Newman from winning.

"No," he said. "Anytime something happens on the racetrack, it's unfortunate. If I had a crystal ball and could have told you everything lined up just perfectly the way it did, there's no way you could do all that math and know everything that happened."

When asked about his team allegedly talking in code during the race, Bowyer said that he had poison oak on his arm from cutting down a tree last week. His crew chief had inquired about his arm right before the spin, at one point saying, "I bet it's hot in there. Itch it."

NASCAR said it could not prove Bowyer's spin was intentional. 

Newman said Tuesday that he accepted Bowyer's apology on Monday and that the two will move on; they had a previously scheduled hunting trip together next week. Although Bowyer discussed the spin on Monday night's phone call, Newman told The Associated Press that Bowyer never said it was intentional.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.