Michael Waltrip Racing announced on Wednesday that it will grant Clint Bowyer his release for the 2016 season to find a new team. The team also revealed it will no longer have a full-time ride next year with the No. 15 or 55 cars.
This news comes less than one month after Rob Kauffman bought stake in Chip-Ganassi Racing after years with MWR. Bowyer has a chance to shop around after 2015, but didn’t say whether or not he’ll join Kauffman.
“After extensive discussions with Rob [Kauffman] and Michael Waltrip Racing, we came to the point that we mutually agreed our paths in the future just didn’t align,” Bowyer said, “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.”
Bowyer has been silent on his plans for the future during a potention run to the Chase with MWR before his departure. While he can sign a full-time deal with a team like Chip-Ganassi Racing to add a new car, he might reportedly be looking for a stopgap.
A move to Stewart-Haas Racing to replace 44-year-old Tony Stewart might be possible after next season if he can find a home on a one-year deal for 2016, according to The Associated Press. A former Chevrolet driver with Richard Childress Racing, SHR would be a great fit for Bowyer in his search for a championship.
Kauffman echoed Bowyer’s sentiments and stated he will support his current driver in whatever decision he makes.
“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,” Kauffman said. “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.”
Michael Waltrip Racing has been a part of NASCAR since 2007 and has flourished at times. But this season the team has no wins and is still coping with the loss of Brian Vickers for the season with David Ragan nowhere close to competing for a Chase berth.
While Waltrip will be stepping away from being an owner of a full-time ride, he noted he will not be leaving the sport.
“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,” Waltrip said. “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.”