Bob Leavine announced Tuesday morning that he sold his family-owned racing team, indicating that Leavine Family Racing will cease operations at the end of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Leavine has fielded cars in NASCAR’s top division since 2011, when it embarked on a four-race stint with veteran David Starr. The team currently campaigns the No. 95 Toyota for Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Christopher Bell, who ranks 23rd in Cup Series points.
In a teleconference with reporters, LFR team president Jeremy Lange did not identify the buyer(s), saying “it’s their news, and we’re going to let them make their announcement.”
Leavine indicated that the COVID-19 epidemic’s impact on the economy was an insurmountable hurdle. The coronavirus outbreak shut the sport down from mid-March to mid-May and also delayed the projected 2021 debut of the Cup Series’ Next Gen car, which forced LFR to shift its inventory and focus. That development — combined with the economic impact on Leavine’s Texas-based construction business, WRL General Contractors — factored into the team owner’s decision in what he called “a perfect storm in the wrong direction.”
“This decision has not been made lightly,” Leavine said in a statement. “Family has always been a part of the team’s name and this is how we view every member of our race team — as our family. There is no good time to make this announcement, but doing it earlier allows our people to explore employment opportunities, for next season, to provide for their families. There will be opportunities with the new owners which was important to our decision.”
Leavine Family Racing flew the banners of all three manufacturers during its time in the sport, transitioning from Ford (2011-2015) to Chevrolet (2016-2018) to Toyota (2019-2020). Its final shift to Toyota Racing Development included a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, which will regain some assets from LFR after the sale.
“Everything that we own — charter, building, inventory — we sold,” Leavine said. “The things that were not were no chassis, no bodies, anything that came from JGR goes back to JGR.”
Other drivers who suited up for LFR’s No. 95 entry include Michael McDowell, Kasey Kahne, Matt DiBenedetto, Ty Dillon and Scott Speed. It was DiBenedetto who delivered the team’s best finish, a spirited second-place effort in Bristol’s annual night race last season.