MWR, Bowyer to separate after 2015, MWR to cease full-time operation in 2016

Michael Waltrip Racing and Clint Bowyer have mutually agreed to part ways at the conclusion of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, MWR announced early Wednesday morning.

MWR also announced it will no longer field a full-time entry in 2016. The team, which has fielded full-time cars at NASCAR’s premier level since 2007, currently owns cars driven by Bowyer (No. 15) and David Ragan (No. 55). Both will continue to run full-time for the remainder of this season.

“This decision was made after weighing several different options and scenarios,” said Rob Kauffman, co-owner of MWR, in a team release. “I felt it was important to make an announcement as soon as we had clarity, so that is what we are doing today. … Clint Bowyer has done a lot for MWR since joining us in 2012 and we appreciate the energy and effort he has given the organization. After many discussions, Clint and I agreed we would go our separate ways at the end of the season and I wish him well in whatever direction he pursues.”

Wednesday’s announcement did not signal the end of Kauffman’s involvement in NASCAR, however. On July 30, MWR released a statement announcing that Kauffman had agreed to buy an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, saying the group was “currently evaluating ways to field the most competitive race teams possible to provide an excellent platform for their partners and employees for the 2016 season and beyond.” Ganassi currently fields the No. 1 and No. 42 cars driven by Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, respectively.

After six seasons with Richard Childress Racing, Bowyer enjoyed a career rebirth after joining Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012, winning three races and finishing second in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings in his first season with the team.

Bowyer, an eight-time premier series winner, has earned berths in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in two of the last three seasons. Currently 16th on the Chase Grid, he is on pace to earn another playoff spot this season.

“I want to thank Michael, Rob and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing that made these past four years special,” Bowyer, 36, said. “After extensive discussions with Rob and MWR, we came to the point that we mutually agreed our paths in the future just didn’t align but I think we all agreed on the next steps in a very professional manner. I am looking forward to what future opportunities may come but for now we have a championship to pursue in 2015 and we owe it to every one of our sponsors, partners, employees and fans to deliver on and off the track.”

MWR’s foray into fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup racing began in 2007 with cars driven by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann. Reutimann landed the team its first of seven Sprint Cup victories in the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 in 2009. Throughout its eight-plus fulltime seasons, MWR won races with Bowyer (three), Reutimann (two), Martin Truex Jr. (one) and Brian Vickers (one).

“Rob joined MWR in 2007 and has helped give us the resources to build a competitive race team, and in 2012, Clint Bowyer took us to the doorstep of a championship,” said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. “From where MWR started behind my house in Sherrill’s Ford to winning Sprint Cup races, poles and earning Chase berths, I am proud of what we accomplished. My family has been a part of NASCAR for almost five decades and I plan on being a part of it for years to come. I would not have had the opportunity to start this journey without so many great partners, sponsors and employees and I want to thank each of them for making Michael Waltrip Racing a reality.”

NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

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