NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer will continue to be sponsored by 5-hour Energy drink.
There was some question whether the sponsor would stick with Bowyer, of Emporia, Kan., after he was a central figure in what NASCAR called Michael Waltrip Racing’s “manipulation” of the Sept. 7 Richmond race.
But 5-hour Energy announced Friday it would continue its sponsorship of Bowyer’s No. 15 Toyota for 24 races in 2014, the final season of a three-year contract.
“There had been a lot of talk, but I’ve always known 5-hour Energy was behind me 100 percent, and I’ve been behind them 100 percent,” Bowyer said Friday between practice and qualifying for Sunday’s AAA 500 at Dover International Speedway.
“We’ve built a great program around racing with MWR’s help and do a great job of marketing on and off the race track. We’ve had a lot of success in the two years we’ve been together. It’s nice to know they spoke up these sponsors aren’t just sponsors’ decals on a race car. They’re relationships. And we’ve had a great a relationship from day one, and it’s going to continue to be that way.”
In the race at Richmond, Bowyer, on the orders of his Michael Waltrip Racing team, deliberately spun out to create a late caution in an effort to help teammate Martin Truex Jr. qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
As a result, Waltrip Racing received the stiffest punishment in NASCAR history — a $300,000 fine and 50-point penalties to Bowyer, Truex and Brian Vickers, who was ordered to make a late, unscheduled pit stop at the end of the race.
More importantly, NAPA, the long-time sponsor of Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 Toyota driven by Truex, withdrew its sponsorship, which threatens the organization’s ability to field that car in 2014.
Bowyer’s team could have been in a similar situation had 5-hour Energy pulled its multi-million dollar commitment.
“While our original plan was to announce the status of our sponsorship at the end of the year, this timeframe left many concerned about their future,” said Melissa Skabich, spokesperson for 5-hour Energy. “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.”