NAPA Pulls Sponsorship of Michael Waltrip Racing, and That’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg
In an article posted ten days ago I explained NASCAR's futile attempt to right the wrong committed by MWR's attempt to "throw" a race. It was my belief then as it is now that a bit of cheating has always gone on, and will continue.There are however varying degrees of foul play, and MWR according to NASCAR, has committed the mortal sin of sportsmanship,and the fallout has started with NAPA pulling their sponsorship at the end of this season.
It's a big deal to loose a national sponsor when you're funding three Sprint Cup and three Nationwide teams. In dollar figures, fifteen million per year has been tossed around, I'm estimating closer to twenty million after all is said and done. Despite the loss, Michael Waltrip is confident he can weather the storm. It's my opinion Michael is blowing smoke, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
MWR has two other main sponsors, Aarons and Five Hour Energy. Look for both to continue, but not increase their financial support. MWR cannot survive with just those two, so he'll need to go shopping, and he'll need to settle for bargain basement rates at best, and plenty of them.
Waltrip may decide to use his other source of income as a television announcer to offset his losses, however I don't see his contract being renewed, if it even continues at this point. He could take on another partner or two which is probably his next move.
Will MWR continue? Yes, but not at the same level. Don't be surprised if he sells off his Nationwide teams in order to continue in Sprint Cup. This is not only bad for him, it's also bad for NASCAR, itself in more trouble than it cares to admit. A good example of this are the television ratings that have been consistently declining. When the present contract is up, I expect coverage of the Camping World Truck Series to be dropped completely, with limited coverage of Nationwide and Sprint Cup. NASCAR has relied on a certain demographic which has been dropping like a stone over the years, and the attempt to attract a younger audience has been a total failure. NASCAR's big push to Twitter is a good example. Facebook maybe, Twitter, no way. Race attendance over the past several years has continued to decrease as well, despite track promoters dramatically lowering ticket prices, and the MWR debacle couldn't have come at a worse time, with the start of the Chase.
Will NASCAR survive? Yes, although not as we know it today. Changes need to be made, and I believe they will be made for the betterment of both the sport itself, and the fans. As for MWR, I can't say the same. As I write this article, Michael has yet to announce any wrong doing on his part. We all make mistakes and do things we wish we could take back or do over. It's time for Michael to come forward and fess up. If he chooses to remain silent that's certainly his right, but as my Mother used to say, "you make your bed, you sleep in it." Goodnight Michael.