Officials with 5-Hour Energy confirmed Friday morning that the company would remain as a sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014.
The future of the partnership between the two companies came into question after MWR became tangled within a web of controversy after the team was accused of attempting to manipulate the finish of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond in an effort to help teammates earn a place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
5-Hour Energy released a statement explaining its decision.
“This week the 5-Hour Energy team met after the New Hampshire race to discuss our future with Michael Waltrip Racing. While our original plan was to announce the status of our sponsorship at the end of the year, this time frame left many concerned about their future. There are scores of passionate fans, numerous charitable organizations, and hundreds of hard-working MWR employees and their families who are directly impacted by 5-Hour Energy’s NASCAR sponsorship. After several internal discussions and meetings with MWR, we are prepared to announce our decision ahead of schedule. 5-Hour Energy will be back as a sponsor of MWR and Clint Bowyer for 2014. We look forward to another great year of competitive racing.”
Michael Waltrip Racing was fined $300,000 and all three of its cars and drivers were docked 50 points after 5-Hour Energy driver Clint Bowyer spun late in the race to give teammate Martin Truex Jr. a final chance to race his way into the Chase. As well, MWR’s third driver Brian Vickers was penalized for pitting and giving up a position on the track to Truex.
MWR General Manager Ty Norris, who also served as Vickers’ spotter, was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and Truex was kicked out of the Chase as a result of the point penalty, which was assessed prior to the Chase points reset. That allowed Ryan Newman, who was leading and in position to earn a wild card entry into the Chase when Bowyer spun, to be added to the Chase field two days after the race at Richmond.
Last week NAPA Auto Parts announced it wouldn’t return as Truex’s sponsor in 2014 as a result of MWR’s actions at Richmond. Truex’s status for 2014 at MWR has not been announced.