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Elton Sawyer, Red Bull Racing parting ways

Elton Sawyer will part ways with Red Bull Racing, effective Monday.

Sawyer, 50, who was hired as the competition director for the start-up company more than four years ago, was told of his fate last Thursday.

Sawyer says that on Monday both parties agreed that this would be his last week.

"Elton did a good job," said team general manager Jay Frye, who took over the competition director role as well in April 2009. "If we were a three-car team, we would probably need that role. But we had a lot of layers and that position became redundant."

Sawyer is uncertain of his next career move. He was testing with Red Bull development driver Cole Whitt on Tuesday at Rockingham and will accompany Mattias Ekstrom to Sonoma this weekend as the Swede acquaints himself on the 1.99-mile road course in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race prior to making his Sprint Cup debut in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota on Sunday.

Sawyer competed in the Busch Series (now the Nationwide Series) from 1983 until 2002. The Chesapeake, Va., native won races at Myrtle Beach and New Hampshire while driving Fords for Akin-Sutton and finished a career-best fifth in the points standings in three different seasons.

Sawyer also ran 29 Cup races between 1995 and 1996. His best finish came at Talladega, where he finished 14th driving a Junior Johnson Ford.

Sawyer says he wasn't surprised by the news given "the budget cuts and ways (for the company) to get leaner. He says that the process has been handled in "a cordial and respectful" manner.

"I understand the economic conditions of the sport right now, but things are not going well there," Sawyer said. "I'd like to be part of the solution. It was a little shocking, but hopefully when one door closes another one opens.

"The Red Bull experience has been great. I was one of the first ones here. I got to help build the foundation and it was an opportunity to learn a lot. Overall, it's been a great experience."