As word spread through Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., on Friday (June 12) that General Motors Corp. will pull its support from the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck series and reevaluate as soon as this week where its Sprint Cup dollars would go, drivers were quick to respond, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m not sure what the cutbacks mean, and what it is going to mean for the sport,” said defending Cup champion and Hendrick Motorsorts ace Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. “It’s obviously a tough time for GM. It’s a tough time for our country. One thing that I do know is that racing sells cars. And hopefully we can do that for Chevrolet and for GM and go out and win on Sunday and sell on Monday.”
Ryan Newman, who drives the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing, said, “I don’t know the entire financial situation on any of the Big Three (manufacturers). The bottom line is we’re here to support all of them, and whatever we can do as drivers, team owners and sponsors to help the economy, to help GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota is what we need to do.”
According to a report on NASCAR.com, Kevin Harvick’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck teams will lose GM support, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide outfit, JR Motorsports, also is a victim of the budget cuts.
“We will try to do the best we can to cover the void that will create,” Earnhardt said. “Chevrolet is going through some very challenging times.”
Greg Biffle, who runs the No. 16 3M Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, thinks teams can survive cutbacks and continue to compete.
“As we probably know, there have already been cutbacks from the support of those auto manufacturers,” said Biffle, who built his own cars early in his career. “And what people have to get through their head is that we are going to be racing cars with or without that support. The amount of support provided us is important, but we can continue to race without that support. It just means cutting back on technology or testing or whatever else.”
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter spoke to the Free Press on Friday’s reports.
“It’s no secret GM is going through serious restructuring,” Hunter said. “How it will affect NASCAR we don’t know. I would expect you’ll still see Chevys on the racetrack. In the short term, we don’t expect it to have serious effects. In the long term, NASCAR doesn’t have answers to that.”