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Leavine Family Racing to close at end of 2020 season

FILE - In this July 12, 2020, file photo, Christopher Bell (95) drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Sparta, Ky. Leavine Family Racing, which owns the Cup car driven by Christopher Bell, announced Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, it had sold its charter and will exit NASCAR at the end of the season. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
FILE - In this July 12, 2020, file photo, Christopher Bell (95) drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Sparta, Ky. Leavine Family Racing, which owns the Cup car driven by Christopher Bell, announced Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, it had sold its charter and will exit NASCAR at the end of the season. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Leavine Family Racing has sold its NASCAR team but will finish the season with driver Christopher Bell.

Team owner Bob Leavine made the announcement Tuesday, saying he could not risk his 41-year-old construction business by continuing to fund the team.

Leavine is the second team owner to close its doors after aligning with Joe Gibbs Racing. Furniture Row Racing won a championship with driver Martin Truex Jr. in partnership with Gibbs.

But when Gibbs raised the price and Furniture Row lost a critical sponsor, owner Barney Visser pulled the plug and closed the team. Truex moved to a Gibbs car and Leavine signed on as a Gibbs partner.

The partnership provided a landing spot for Bell, a JGR development driver who needed a promotion to the Cup Series but couldn't get into one of Gibbs' four seats. Bell, a rookie, has just one top-five finish this season and is ranked 23rd in the standings driving the No. 95 Toyota.

Leavine has not revealed who purchased the charter, which guarantees entry into the 40-car field each race.

“It’s a bad taste in my mouth to be perfectly candid," Leavine said. "It’s not something I’m used to of not being able to control what we do and what we spend. Right now, I’m happy for what we’ve done.

“Our growth in five years as a full-time team, the people we have here in our shop I would not swap for anyone, anywhere. The family owned a big percentage of the team and we just couldn’t continue to commit to put money into it. I don’t see a whole lot of things that I’ve succeeded at. Today isn’t necessarily one of the happier days that I’ve ever had in this sport.”