NASCAR chairman Brian France is adamant his family-owned business ebbs and flows with the economy, and points out that a little over a year ago, he was being questioned about an overly saturated market of heavily funded race teams in the premier Sprint Cup Series.
"Too many cars, too many well-funded teams — they're going to be disappointed when they go home (fail to qualify). What are you going to do? Are you going to expand the field? Tell me what you are going to do," France said.
Not everyone is as confident that things will be OK.
Many are adamant the rich are getting richer, while everyone else is getting left behind.
Team owner Richard Childress has signed Caterpillar and General Mills as sponsors for next season, and he's expected to land UPS, as well. The moves leave Bill Davis Racing, Petty Enterprises and Michael Waltrip Racing scrambling to find financing. It's doubtful those teams will get anything close to the $20 million or more in annual funding that the best teams attract.
Based on recent contract announcements, it seems only 24 cars have full sponsorship in place for the 2009 season. Some have massive budgets, others settle for what they can get. In the meantime, many companies are finding that to stay in NASCAR, they must do so at a reduced price.
That's not likely to change as the competition gap grows. Through 18 races, cars from just six different organizations have won all the events, led by Joe Gibbs Racing's seven wins.
But in maintaining the status quo during this economic crisis, NASCAR risks Ganassi being just the first owner to kill a race team.
And that's not OK for anyone. - tennessean.com