Bill McAnally found himself between the asphalt and a hard place last month when good friend and occasional driver Michael Waltrip's NASCAR team was penalized for some late-season shenanigans and McAnally's main sponsor NAPA Auto Parts pulled its multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with Michael Waltrip Racing.
Waltrip was scheduled to drive one of McAnally's four entries in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Roseville's All American Speedway on Oct. 12. NAPA Auto Parts was the primary sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing driver Martin Truex Jr., with a three-year deal through the 2015 season believed to be worth at least $15 million a year.
Michael Waltrip Racing was punished by NASCAR last month for manipulating the outcome of the race at Richmond in an attempt to get Truex into the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup. NASCAR removed Truex from the Chase in favor of Ryan Newman, and Michael Waltrip Racing was fined $300,000, general manager Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely and all three crew chiefs for Waltrip were placed on probation for the rest of the year.
When NAPA canceled its lucrative sponsorship deal with MWR, McAnally feared it might affect his K&N Pro Series West race at All American. McAnally said he made a call to NAPA Auto Parts headquarters to see if Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, could still race for Bill McAnally Racing. The former NASCAR driver is a popular draw for the K&N race, and McAnally, as race promoter, needs him to help fill the grandstands.
"NAPA has sponsored 11 K&N races this season, and I was worried about it, so I called and NAPA said they were pleased with the way Michael was handling the issue and had no problem with him driving for me," McAnally said. "I don't think Michael is tainted at all. I texted him to see if he was still coming to Roseville and he texted back, 'Heck yes, and we're going to win it!' "
Tickets for the Oct. 12 race can be purchased at www.bmrnapa.com.
Marysville gets Gold Fever The 22nd Gold Fever Open for 360-cubic-inch sprint cars returns to Marysville Raceway Park on Saturday night.
Many of the best sprint car drivers in the West are set to compete, including three-time Marysville track champion Billy Wallace of Grass Valley, Jeremy Burt (Grass Valley), Andy Forsberg (Auburn), 2013 Civil War champion Sean Becker of Roseville and Colfax's Colby Wiesz, who has 53 career wins at Marysville Raceway Park.
For more information, go to www.marysvilleracewaypark.com.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Sacramento Bee. He can be reached at email@example.com.