Clint Bowyer and Rob Kauffman stopped by the media center at Bristol Motor Speedway Friday morning to discuss the decision to both part ways and to leave Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer’s comments were predominantly focused on the members of his No. 15 team and explaining his reasoning as quickly as humanly possible. In contrast, Kauffman’s comments were surprisingly candid and telling.
Bowyer opened by stating that his future did not include a partnership with Kauffman. He appreciated everything that Mr. Kauffman had poured into the organization and credited him with advancing his career after he made the move to MWR. Bowyer then pointed out that each and every member of his team is a person and a racer. He emphasized that it was critical for his peace of mind that he share the information with his team as soon as it was available so that they could work on taking care of themselves and their families going forward.
Bowyer stated that he had nothing to report about his future at this point in time. He is open to any and all options right now, whether that was a one-year ride with the potential for more or a full-time ride for multiple years with an organization. Bowyer did not confirm if he had begun talks with any teams at this point regarding options going forward.
When asked about the impact that Richmond had on the ultimate demise of MWR, Bowyer felt that there was no impact. He claimed that they were a two-car organization and that they were funded going forward for the next two years. The move by Kauffman forced the situation that has led to Bowyer updating his resume before the end of the 2015 season.
In closing, Bowyer pointed out his team all huddled after he informed them of the information and they reaffirmed their commitment to the No. 15 team and running for a championship. Bowyer stated again that every person on his team is a racer and that is what they do. He’s now going out to try and put his car in the Chase and make a run at the title.
Kauffman followed Bowyer to the dais and his comments were predominantly focused on the business side of the situation. He was extremely candid and shared some views that many in the sport believe but are seldom voiced. He acknowledged that the business model in NASCAR is very challenging and his position in the Race Team Alliance is playing a part in trying to change that model.
The most telling comment about why he chose to move from MWR was that it was a performance-based decision. “You can’t have a top-10 budget and top-10 resources and not consistently have top-10 finishes,” said the investor. With the organization struggling, going two years without a victory it was clear in his mind he had to make a change.
“We reorganized in 2014,” explained Kauffman, “with the anticipation of increased performance. By this point in 2015 that had not happened… which led to this decision.”
Kauffman also admitted the move to Chip Ganassi Racing allows him a chance to distance himself a bit from the racing side of the business and allow him to focus on other endeavors and the RTA. Kauffman enjoys vintage racing and shared that he would be able to spend a little more time with that pursuit.
Kauffman was asked about the proceeds from the sale of MWR assets and whether those funds would be poured into his new relationship with CGR. He stated most of it is probably going to be utilized to provide severance to the employees who are losing their jobs. When questioned about the best purpose for the MWR shop, he stated that he felt real estate on the shores of Lake Norman might be better served as a housing development than a race shop.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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