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Automakers troubles shake Nascar.


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I knew there had to be some ramifications for Nascar in light of GM and Chrysler filing for bankruptcy. It leaves Ford in a position of power it hasn't seen in decades, which seems strange since some folks here predicted Ford was going under years ago, yet they remain the ONLY American brand that isn't living on the taxpayers dime. Good for them!

GM's cuts in Truck, N'wide heighten carmaker stress

By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

Jun 12, 5:52 pm EDT

The plants that build American passenger cars may be 75 miles away, but their influence is always felt at . In many ways this is Detroit's race track, a facility that attracts the attention of the domestic manufacturers involved in NASCAR, and a place where all of them want to win. Now, though, that intrinsic connection with the Motor City is being felt in different, less encouraging ways.

The plight of bankrupt General Motors hit NASCAR broadside Friday, when it became clear that the struggling carmaker was eliminating its financial support to teams that sport its Chevrolet brand in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. The owners of Kevin Harvick Inc. and JR Motorsports both confirmed that funding to their organizations had been discontinued, and other teams braced for similar cuts.

"I have to keep racing, and we'll keep racing General Motors products, for sure," said Richard Childress, who fields a car on the Nationwide circuit, and plans to meet with GM officials next week. "They've been good to us for many, many, many years. We've had a great partnership, and we've just got to see what comes out of it. Everybody's going through tough times right now. … You do what you've got to do to survive. If you want to keep racing, you do what you've got to do."

Harvick, whose team fields competitive entries on both the Nationwide and Truck series—including the No. 33 truck of Ron Hornaday, second in points entering Saturday's race at Michigan—confirmed in a statement that his organization had lost factory support, and would require some internal restructuring as a result. JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that funding to his single-car Nationwide entry had been pulled, and that he would try to make up the financial difference.

"We'll try to do the best we can to cover the void that will create. Chevrolet is going through some very challenging times, and I had a true understanding that this would be coming down the pipe and they would have to make some adjustments. Every company, not only this company, but particularly having a couple of my own, I've had to make adjustments due to how the economy has turned. So it wouldn't be any different for anybody else," said Earnhardt, whose driver Brad Keselowski is fourth in Nationwide points entering Saturday's race in Kentucky.

"Obviously, the support that Chevy was able to provide us was in a lot of ways a privilege only to a few teams. Not everybody had that support. You see a lot of other guys who are getting to the race track without that kind of manufacturer support. To me, it was always a feather in your cap and never taken for granted. We'll be able to try to do some unique programs with our sponsors and future partners to try to cover that expense. But I personally in no way feel like it's changed my relationship with or my perception toward Chevrolet and how I work with them in the future."

GM, Chevy's parent company, is currently restructuring under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and is in the process of shuttering or idling many of its production plants. Chevrolet representatives would not confirm Friday that the Truck and Nationwide cuts were occurring, saying only that the company is in the midst of a thorough review of expenditures, and that it would not discuss the details of its business relationships.

"We're continuing to manage how this business is run from every regard," said Pat Suhy, group manager for GM Racing. "It's not just racing, it's everywhere from manufacturing to engineering, all the other sales and marketing activities. We're going through a reinvention. We'll find out where we come out of it on the back end, and continue to be successful here and elsewhere."

Exactly how much financial assistance race teams receive from manufacturers is a closely guarded secret. Not all teams receive the same amount, and some smaller operations in the Nationwide or Truck garages—even those that bear carmaker logos—may be getting little to no support at all. Earnhardt said manufacturer money comprised only a "very small" percentage of his Nationwide team's operating budget, with the bulk of it coming from sponsor money.

"I really don't know what each program, what their situation was as far what assistance that Chevrolet was giving them in terms of dollars or wind tunnel time or whatever. But I know that through their manufactures and their centers up north, that we'll still probably have a lot of engineering data to trade back and forth, and we'll still try to learn a lot of things from them on the engineering side of things," he said.

"Obviously, the financial side of it is entirely going away, which everybody understands. Obviously, Chevrolet really cares deeply about this sport, and they still want to maintain some relationships, and they still want to see Chevrolets win no matter who's driving them or who owns them. So they'll still offer quite a bit, I guess, of support on the engineering and data side."

On the Truck side, Chevrolet's pullout leaves Toyota as the only manufacturer currently providing financial help to teams. Because of the sluggish domestic car market, Dodge and Ford both pulled out of the circuit last year.

"For sure, it definitely hurts a little bit of my interest and probably even more people's interest that there isn't any support. It's tough. It's a struggle, for sure. The Truck Series, for one, is a struggle. At Texas, they had 33 trucks there and there was only about 21 real decent trucks," said Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch, who often competes in Truck and Nationwide events.

"The lack of support from the manufacturers is difficult. I know that Dodge pulled out … Ford pulled out this year, and it doesn't surprise me that Chevrolet is now pulling out. The Nationwide Series though, support falling out of that series is going to make that series tough, too. Especially with NASCAR wanting to go to the new car there next year for road courses and restrictor-plate tracks, and the following year full time. I don't know how that is going to work out."

These are indeed uneasy times for those involved with the racing arms of American car manufacturers, with the parent companies of Chevrolet and Dodge both undergoing bankruptcy restructuring. Richard Petty Motorsports, which fields four Dodges in the Sprint Cup Series, reportedly laid off several employees in anticipation of manufacturer cuts, and recently allied with a Nationwide organization that competes in Toyotas. With manufacturer money to Nationwide and Truck operations being slashed, everyone now waits to see if—or when—funding to teams at NASCAR's highest level will begin to dry up.

"What people have to get through their heads is that we're going to be racing race cars … with or without [the manufacturers]," said Greg Biffle, who drives a Ford. "The amount of support they provide us is important, but we can continue to race without that support. It just means [we have to] cut back on technology or testing or whatever else. I can think back to when I was late model racing or Camping World East or West racing, there's no support there. You go to your local track Friday or Saturday, a guy has a Chevy, a Dodge, a Ford or whatever, and nobody is footing his bill. He chooses which manufacturer he wants to race in the series, and that's what he does. Hendrick Motorsports is going to be racing cars, whether they have any support or what the level might be. I'm pretty confident of that."

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Ford is still on life support and really has not changed its business model in decades, I would not look to them as a shining light for the future either.

With the way things are headed the government will likely try very hard to run Ford into the ground to increase the power grab that they have recently made in the industry.

It is a sad state of affairs in American business today, that the government that cant run anything competently has siezed control of major parts of the American economy.

Hope and Change, pretty soon all that is left is Hope.

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Sure does, but from what I read there the vehicle is equipped with a special blast cage to protect it occupants.

that'll be a nice change for the poor sods in iraq who have to armor their humvees themselves...

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