Michael Waltrip Racing has been a Toyota/Toyota Racing Development team since Toyota first entered the Cup series over eight years ago in 2007. But it sounds like there’s a distinct possibility the No. 15 / 55 may be looking to another manufacturer for the 2016 season.
David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, emphasized on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Tuesday that TRD is primarily focused on 2015’s Chase, but also is looking ahead to its 2016 lineup. At this point that lineup is still very much in the air. It is safe to assume that Joe Gibbs Racing will continue as the mainstay of the TRD lineup, but beyond that, plans have not been announced.
“We are talking to a number of organizations about the future, and certainly in the near-term, we’re not sure what Michael Waltrip Racing is going to do,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s interview made it sound like MWR is definitely shopping around for 2016 and beyond.
“They’ve yet to announce their plans,” Wilson said.
“Certainly we have had a rich history in the sport together. We got our butts kicked together in 2007, our first year, and you forge very close and personal relationships when you have those trials together. Whatever they decide to do, we certainly wish nothing but the best for them,” Wilson added.
That last sentence sounds like Wilson is alluding to a parting of ways with MWR. Likely for 2016, it is sounding like MWR will partner with Chip Ganassi Racing or Richard Childress Racing, switching to Chevrolet power, while the Furniture Row Racing team (or teams) are trading places over to Toyota. Both are looking to improve performance, and switching manufacturers is large swing of the hammer way to do it.
Partnerships with larger organizations such as RCR and Ganassi have helped improve within manufacturers, including JTG No. 47’s ECR/RCR partnership, as well as Furniture Row Racing with the same organization. But like all competitors and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage, constant trials, tweaking and changing is required to find out what works and what doesn’t work. Don’t be surprised if that means a a bowtie on the front of the No. 15 and 55 next year and the silver oval on the front of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 for 2016.
Update: This could change everything: MWR’s Kauffman Close To Purchasing Sabates’ Stake In Ganassi