RELATED: MWR won't run full-time Cup team Officials with Michael Waltrip Racing have begun the process of shutting down the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization, filing the required Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice (WARN) with the North Carolina Commerce Department detailing the anticipated layoff of its employees. Any employer planning the closure of a company or large layoffs is required to file a WARN notice with the state. Notices must also be filed with those workers affected, or their representatives, the N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions and the chief elected government official where the site/company is located. According to the document, the company will lay off a total of 217 employees during a five-and-a-half month period, from Nov. 1 through April 15 of next year. MWR, which began competing full-time in 2007, currently fields two full-time teams, the No. 15 Toyota for driver Clint Bowyer and the No. 55 Toyota for driver David Ragan . The racing facility is located in Cornelius, North Carolina. At its height, MWR fielded three full-time teams, and its drivers have won seven Sprint Cup events. Its last victory came during the 2013 season and Bowyer has the team's highest points finish, placing second in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Bowyer enters this weekend's race, the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway , looking to earn one of the remaining positions in this year's 16-team Chase field. Ragan, who joined the team after 11 races, is 24th in points. On Aug. 19, MWR officials announced that the organization and Bowyer had mutually agreed to sever their relationship following the completion of the 2015 racing season, which concludes in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway . RELATED: MWR, Bowyer to go separate ways It was also stated at that time that MWR would not field a full-time entry beyond this season. Co-owner Rob Kauffman, whose financial resources helped keep the team afloat shortly after its debut, announced in late July that he was in the process of purchasing an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. RELATED: Kauffman buys interest in CGR In August, he said that MWR "really wouldn't have existed through to today without substantial and continued financial support from me. "I think that from a business standpoint it didn't make sense any longer. You can't have a top-10 budget and top-10 resources and not be in the top 10 for a sustained period of time," he said. "It's a performance related business, it's all about performance. It's a great sport but a very difficult business model. From a business decision it just made sense to not go forward with that organization, which isn't really commercially viable." Neither Bowyer nor Ragan has announced plans for 2016. Their current sponsors, 5-hour ENERGY (Bowyer) and Aaron's (Ragan) also have not announced sponsorship plans beyond this season.
RELATED: See the throwback schemes for Darlington Just when it looked like Darlington Raceway 's 1970s "throwback" promotion couldn't get any groovier with retro race car paint schemes and a return to the track's historical Labor Day weekend calendar spot, NBC Sports upped the game again. The network announced Tuesday that iconic broadcaster Ken Squier will team with NASCAR Hall of Famers -- and father and son -- Ned and Dale Jarrett in the broadcast booth for a portion of Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 telecast on NBC (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Not only will the race look like a blast from the past, it will sound like one, too. "Something I'm looking extremely forward to is to have a chance to call some of the race with my dad and Ken Squier, who really helped put our sport on the map,'' said Dale Jarrett, who appears on NBC's pre-race show along with Krista Voda and Kyle Petty. Viewers can expect to be transported to a different era in the sport with approximately 30 cars running retro paint schemes and the broadcast set to adjust even fine details, like making its graphics and logo authentic to the time. The track nicknamed "Too Tough to Tame" is itself a perennial "throwback" to some of the most noteworthy historical times in NASCAR. Described Squier, "Darlington is truly like no other, its imperfections ... it's the perfect competitive place for NASCAR." "Authentic" was the buzzword Tuesday afternoon as the NASCAR on NBC team shared its collective thoughts about one of the sport's most traditional races, the Southern 500 and its long-awaited move back to its Labor Day weekend position on the schedule for the first time since 2003. Squier called it "the best move NASCAR has made in a decade." Others spoke at length about how this weekend's race at the notoriously tough Darlington venue also represents a bridge between the longtime NASCAR purists and the new generation of fans. "I think it's really important to understand where you came from to know where you're going, and what a perfect weekend to do it,'' NBC analyst and former Darlington winner Jeff Burton said. "At a time we look back and celebrate the past, we can celebrate what's going on now too." Fellow analyst Petty agreed the weekend would please those who hang onto the memories of Richard Petty battling David Pearson, Ned Jarrett's record 14-lap margin of victory, Dale Earnhardt's afternoons charming "The Lady in Black" and Bill Elliott winning $1 million in the old Winston Million incentive program. At the same time, there is hope the attention generated this weekend will pique the interest of new fans who have a wide field of young new talent ready to follow in the legends footsteps here. "It's a time to wax nostalgic, but also an opportunity to educate fans to the history of the sport at a place that has that much history … and at the same time introduce them to what the sport has now," Petty said. "There are certain places that evoke history and the guys that came before you, and Darlington's that place. It's still the exact same place my granddad drove around 50-60 years ago. "I was ecstatic when they moved it back to Labor Day. ... This is where it should be. "All is right with the world this week for me because we'll be in Darlington and it's Labor Day."
RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes In keeping with NASCAR's throwback-themed Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, here's a nod to Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Budweiser Chevy team's historic run this season. You have to go back to the days of lava lamps, bell-bottoms and the GMC Gremlin to find the last time a NASCAR Cup driver (Bobby Allison, 1972) has reeled off double-digit runner-up finishes as Harvick now has. The reigning Sprint Cup Series champ's two wins -- back-to-back trophies at Las Vegas and Phoenix -- punched his title defense ticket into the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . But it's his 10 second-place efforts and career-high 17 top-fives that keep him a favorite for his second Cup championship. It's the kind of superior consistency that creates confidence, maintains momentum and ultimately makes the team more likely to deliver in the clutch. There's two ways this many near-misses can be viewed -- either as encouraging "almosts" or discouraging "not-enoughs" -- but Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers are glass-half-full kind of guys. "It's a really fine balance and getting yourself frustrated over the success we're having would be really, really silly,'' Harvick offered with a smile as he waited out a rain delay during a test at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week. "I'm proud of what we've done and what we've accomplished. "We're all really confident with the way the year has gone. I think if you look at on a piece of paper it's definitely the best year I've ever had from a career standpoint. "I've been around this deal long enough to know those 10 second-place finishes could have swung to wins just as easily and they could have swung to 25th-place finishes just as easily. I'm really proud of the things we've done and feel like we're a better team than we were last year and having better results up to this point." The second-place finishes have contributed to a series-best 7.5 average finish through the first 24 races -- better than three-time winner Joey Logano (9.0 average finish) and four-time winners Jimmie Johnson (12.0) and Kyle Busch (12.5). So while Harvick may not have been visiting Victory Lane as often as those others, no one's been in close proximity more often -- heartening news for his Stewart-Haas Racing team and worrisome for everyone else. "The whole point of coming here (to SHR) was to have a chance of winning races week in and week out and we've done that; you can't force winning, when things are going your way they are and when they aren't, they're not,'' Harvick said. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of it and see the intensity and enthusiasm this team brings week in and week out because it's such a calm confidence around here. "The way we've run I think we could win the championship with everything we've done so far. I don't think we need to do anything any different because the cars are running great and we know what we're up against when the Chase starts and the grind of what that is. And I think we'll do that better than we did last year. "The best for us is in front of us." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
Meet Todd, Official NASCAR Fan Council member of the month Name: Todd Current City: Fayetteville, North Carolina Member since: 2010 Getting to know Todd Q. Why did you join the Official NASCAR Fan Council? "I am very passionate about NASCAR and have been a fan for over 30 years. I joined the NASCAR Fan Council to have a voice and help improve this sport in any way I can." Q. What comes to mind when you think of NASCAR? What's your favorite NASCAR memory? "I am a fan of several sports and I think that NASCAR, by far, is the best sport in the world. It is filled with passionate fans and drivers. I like the fact that drivers, whether good or bad, show their passion and emotions and NASCAR allows them to. "I have attended many races over the years and have many great memories but my greatest memory was my very first Daytona 500 in 2007. It is a day I will never forget. I have continued to go every year since." Q: Do you have a favorite in any of the following categories? Driver: " Austin Dillon " Track: "Daytona" Memorabilia: "I have a ton of memorabilia but my two favorite items are a Dale Jarrett autographed diecast and an autographed Austin Dillon hat (I met him last year). My picture even made the NASCAR website from that one." Q: If you could go to any NASCAR race/track, where would you go? "A night race at Bristol" Q: What do you like to do in your free time? "I like to hunt, fish, watch NASCAR racing, and spend time with my family. We love to travel." Q: Tell us about your family. Do you have children and/or pets? "I am happily married and have two children." Q: What's your dream car? "I would have to say a Corvette." From all of us at NASCAR, we thank todd for His continued support and look forward to hearing from him in 2015! Look for Todd on the Official NASCAR Fan Council page on NASCAR.COM.
RELATED: Watch Friday's event here At 8 p.m. ET on Friday, join NASCAR.com as we go back in time. We're getting into the spirit of this week's throwback theme at Darlington Raceway and, teaming with NASCAR Productions, will broadcast a cut-down video presentation of the 1970 Southern 500. Click here to bookmark the link. The video includes original footage from 1970 and will also present factual tidbits from the era -- some NASCAR history and trivia from that season, along with pop culture notes. Remember, 8 p.m. ET on Friday -- set your calendars now.
Check out some of the funniest moments in the media center in this edition of Funny Moments.
Driver explains why rainbow scheme won't show up this week Fans were all jazzed up to see Jeff Gordon run his old Rainbow Warrior scheme two weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway , so much so that they've been asking what he had planned for Darlington Raceway on throwback weekend. Get those sad-faced emojis ready, because it turns out Gordon won't run a throwback this week. He explained on social media: I understand everyone's bummed #24 won't have a throwback design @TooToughToTame . Timing & right scheme didn't work out for this weekend. — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) September 3, 2015 The timing worked out for us to do our #Rainbow24 throwback @BMSupdates . It was great to drive that car again & see amazing support for it. — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) September 3, 2015 To see who is running throwback paint schemes, check out our gallery , and vote for your favorite.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 3, 2015) -- NASCAR fans have the opportunity to showcase their race prediction skills again this year with The Chase Grid Battle Powered by Bing. Back for the second season, the game allows players to make Round-by-Round picks and compete for prizes throughout the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , which kicks-off Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway . New in 2015, the race-by-race scoring format awards points after each of the 10 races in The Chase and for predicting the drivers who will advance through each round up until the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22. Picks can also be made with the help of Bing Predicts, which relies on relevant data to make intelligent recommendations about upcoming events and is fully integrated into the game. "We're excited to work with NASCAR to bring the power of Bing's intelligent predictions to The Chase Grid Battle Game to help players up their chances of winning," said Ryan Gavin, general manager of search at Microsoft Corp. "Bing Predicts is quickly becoming the resource for both avid sports fans and casual players to get an edge on the game and impress their friends -- and we're excited to bring it to NASCAR's passionate fan base." Prizes for the highest overall scores include a VIP trip to a 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, tickets to a NASCAR Driving Experience and an autographed driver helmet. The highest-scoring participant after each of the four Rounds in The Chase will also receive $100 to use in the NASCAR.com Superstore. Players can form leagues to compete against friends and other fans, with the option to create up to three entries per user. "Participating in The Chase Grid Battle Game allows fans to maximize their Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup experience, and this year we've improved upon it even further with the new scoring format and integration of Bing Predicts to help players increase their odds of winning by making the most informed picks each round," said Colin Smith, vice president, NASCAR Digital Media. "Establishing new, innovative ways for fans to engage with our sport is and always will be a critical objective for NASCAR." Fans can visit here to create a free account and register to play. Registration is open now through Nov. 1, closing before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , The Eliminator Round. Tune in this Sunday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. ET on NBC to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway .
LEARN MORE: Bing: Chase predictions " About Bing RELATED: Play the Chase Grid Battle Game here Let the battle begin. The Chase Grid Battle Game Powered by Bing, a game in which players make round-by-round picks in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , returns for the second consecutive season. Registration is open now. Go here to sign up and start thinking about your strategy before the first postseason race Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway . New this year is the presence of Bing -- and more specifically Bing Predicts, a methodology that uses algorithms to make predictions. Gamers can consider the Bing Predicts tool when playing the Chase Grid Battle Game and have a leg up on the competition. Throughout the summer, Bing Predicts has made accurate forecasts for events such as the Women's World Cup and the Tour de France. Bing will make predictions for drivers advancing to each round throughout the Chase. Right now, the algorithm predicts Kevin Harvick will repeat as Sprint Cup Series champion, besting Kyle Busch , Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in the Championship Round at Homestead. "We're excited to work with NASCAR to bring the power of Bing's intelligent predictions to The Chase Grid Battle Game to help players up their chances of winning," said Ryan Gavin, general manager of search at Microsoft Corp. "Bing Predicts is quickly becoming the resource for both avid sports fans and casual players to get an edge on the game and impress their friends -- and we're excited to bring it to NASCAR's passionate fan base." Also new in 2015 is a race-by-race scoring format that awards points after each of the 10 Chase races. Prizes for the overall highest score includes a VIP trip to a 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, tickets to a NASCAR driving experience and an autographed driver helmet. The highest-scoring participant after each of the four Rounds in The Chase will also receive $100 to use in the NASCAR.com Superstore. Players can form leagues to compete against friends and other fans, with the option to create up to three entries per user.