NAPA to end sponsorship deal with Michael Waltrip Racing

NAPA Auto Parts has decided to end its sponsorship agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing in the aftermath of the team's actions at Richmond International Raceway two weeks ago.

NAPA is the main sponsor of the No. 56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr., who was removed from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship after NASCAR determined the MWR team tried to manipulate the race results at Richmond on Sept. 7.

Truex, along with fellow MWR drivers Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers, were each docked 50 championship points, while MWR was slapped with a 50-point penalty and a $300,000 fine.

NASCAR officials said the driver's crews tried to orchestrate a pit stop to give Truex a better finishing position to qualify for the 12-man Sprint Cup playoffs.

NAPA's sponsorship deal will end after the 2013 season.

"After thorough consideration, NAPA has made the difficult decision to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing effective December 31, 2013," the auto parts company said on its Facebook page. "NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR. We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports."

NAPA had been with Waltrip since 2001, when he won the first of his two Daytona 500 titles as a driver, and helped Waltrip during his transition to car owner several years later.

"NAPA has been with me from winning two Daytona 500s, to missing races with a new start-up team, and back to victory lane again," said Waltrip in a statement. "The relationship grew far past that of just a sponsor, but more of a partner and a friend. We will not be racing a NAPA car in 2014, but I have friendships that will last a lifetime.

"To the fans and those who made their voice heard through social media, as the owner, I am responsible for all actions of MWR. I sincerely apologize for the role our team played and for the lines NASCAR has ruled were crossed by our actions at Richmond. NASCAR met with the competitors in Chicago and we all know how we are expected to race forward."

Bowyer remains in the Chase and is currently tied for eighth in the standings heading into this weekend's event in New Hampshire.