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GM cuts extend to Sprint Cup teams

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2009

General Motors' decision to reduce funding in NASCAR's top-flight Sprint Cup Series means there's a lot of refiguring being done in some race teams' ledgers.

But then it's back to racing.

“While this cutback will force us to review our budget,” said Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner/driver Tony Stewart, “it will not impact our preparation for the track or the return on investment we provide to our partners.

“We're racers and racers find a way to make things work.”

GM, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, made a tour Wednesday of its flagship Chevrolet-driving Sprint Cup organizations, including Kannapolis' Stewart-Hass, Concord's Hendrick Motorsports, Welcome's Richard Childress Racing and Concord's Earnhart-Ganassi Racing. The message was the same as it was last week to GM's Nationwide and truck teams: Because of GM's crippling financial problems, it is scaling back its commitment to NASCAR.

By how much, GM isn't saying.

“Chevrolet's involvement in racing is a sound business decision that translates directly into the sale of cars and trucks,” a GM spokesman said in a statement Wednesday. “It is essential, however, that we continue to look at every penny we spend as General Motors takes the necessary steps to become a leaner company with a significantly stronger balance sheet. While Chevy Racing is talking to its business partners about ways to reduce cost and maximize the return on investment, it is our policy to not talk about the details of business relationships with our partners.”

A top Sprint Cup team's budget reportedly is in the $20million-$25million range per year.

“We had very productive conversations this week with the folks at General Motors, and it's clear they are committed to racing and committed to our organization,” said Hendrick owner Rick Hendrick. “They've asked us for some help, and we're going to give it to them. We're proud to be a Chevy team, and we will do our part to support the new GM both on and off the race track.”

NASCAR President Brian France said last week he's confident GM will remain in the sport and that NASCAR will do whatever it can to help its teams, tracks and sponsors get through the tough economic times.

“The question is, with falling revenues in every sports league, what are you going to do to help to figure out the way forward?” France said. “For us, we have a huge interest in the sponsorship model. We're more dependent on it than anyone else. So we're affected.”

He said NASCAR will look to new companies, new technologies and, particularly, to the growing green industry to help build the sport.

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