Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sports

Waltrip could lose Truex after sponsor bolts

LOUDON, N.H. — Stripped of his Chase spot, then his sponsorship, Martin Truex is now in a hasty scramble to find a 2014 ride.

He has little time and few options.

"There's not a whole lot out there," Truex said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

But if he can find a funded ride, owner Michael Waltrip is willing to let Truex walk.

With sponsor NAPA out of the picture, Truex could bolt Michael Waltrip Racing as part of the aftershock of the Richmond scandal that saw him booted out of the Chase. NAPA's multimillion-dollar sponsorship defection from MWR at the end of the year is just the latest fallout from the team's attempt to manipulate a race to get Truex into NASCAR's Chase for the Championship.

NAPA, Truex's primary sponsor, was in the first year of a three-year extension announced last August. The deal ran through the 2015 season and is believed to be worth at least $15 million a year.

With nine races left in 2013, Waltrip asked Truex for more time to strike a deal for '14 funding.

"If he came to me tomorrow and said, 'I got a deal to go do something,' then obviously I would not hold him back," Waltrip said. "I owe him a lot for his loyalty and his passion for our team. I wouldn't hold him back from doing something he wanted to do, but I'd like him to hang around so we can attract a sponsor and keep him in our cars."

Truex, who starts fifth in today's Sylvania 300, would like to stay at MWR. He doesn't know if NAPA would follow him to another team.

"I'd always hoped that I'd be at Michael Waltrip Racing for a long, long time," Truex said. "…But it's a lot more confusing at the moment."

MWR was also fined $300,000, general manager Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely and all three crew chiefs for its drivers were placed on probation for the rest of the year.

Nationwide: Ryan Blaney earned his first victory in NASCAR's second-tier series, taking the Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Blaney, who has won twice in the truck series, held off Austin Dillon on a restart with nine laps left and pulled away.

Formula One: Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel earned the pole for today's Singapore Grand Prix despite skipping the last section of qualifying to save his tires. The series leader, seeking his fourth consecutive world championship, edged fellow German Nico Rosberg's Mercedes.

NHRA: Robert Hight (Funny Car), Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) led their classes in qualifying at the Texas Fall Nationals in Houston.

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