Morgan-McClure Motorsports scales back operations

Updated: January 14, 2008, 9:42 PM ET
Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- After 25 years and three Daytona 500 victories, Morgan-McClure Motorsports appears to be out of the racing business.

The decision to scale back operations was met with sadness by Sterling Marlin, who won back-to-back Daytona 500s with the team in 1994 and 1995.

"We were a great race team at one time," he said. "I just think the technology and them being out of the loop by not being in Charlotte -- they were in a time warp and it hurt them some."

The Abingdon, Va.-based race team laid off 28 employees last week and co-owner Larry McClure said without sponsorship, the team would not be able to compete in its 26th Daytona 500 next month.

"We will continue to search for sponsorship and if something becomes available, we have the cars ready to go to Daytona," McClure said. "I've had a lot of fun racing and it's just hard to believe it might come to this. We are still the best bargain in NASCAR if we could just find the right sponsor."

The team ran last season with Ward Burton as the driver and finished 47th in points -- a far cry from its heyday when Marlin and Ernie Irvan were running up front and collecting wins.

"We were always in the hunt," said Tony Glover, who spent 13 years with the team and was Marlin's crew chief for his Daytona wins. "We had a good thing going at that time, and I thought we were certainly a top-five team year in and year out."

As the sport grew, however, Morgan-McClure struggled to compete with the multi-car organizations. Marlin moved on to a bigger team, sponsor Kodak left and it became impossible for the team to keep up.

"To me, they should have [closed] when Kodak left," Marlin said. "They were just throwing good money after bad money and if you don't have the sponsorship dollars to do it right, you are just wasting your time."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press