NASCAR Chevy teams brace for cuts from General Motors
SONOMA, Calif. -- General Motors' reduced support of NASCAR teams amid the giant automaker's bankruptcy reorganization was a major topic of discussion in the garage Friday ahead of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway.
"We’re going to have to make cuts like everybody in the sport or any business" to cope with GM's cuts, said Richard Childress, whose stock-car racing team has four drivers who pilot GM Chevrolets in the Cup series: Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears.
Other Chevrolet drivers include reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports.
"Everybody is seeing times we never dreamed we would see," Childress said, while declining to provide details of GM's reductions. But he vowed that the cuts were "not going to affect our performance."
Corporate sponsors provide most of the financial support for a NASCAR stock car, whose annual budget can reach $20 million or more for the top-tier teams in the Sprint Cup Series. The auto manufacturer's support might be as little as 10% of the budget, but it's still a major source of funding at a time when sponsors have been hard to secure in the weak U.S. economy.
Two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, whose Stewart-Haas Racing team also races Chevrolets, said "we'll make it through the year" but that "we'll look at all the numbers and figure out what we have to do."
"It's a hard situation for them," Stewart said of GM. "You could see it in their eyes when they came to the shop. That's not a meeting they wanted to have [and] they didn't want to have to tell us that we're going to have to take a cut. But tat the same time we understand why."
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Dale Earnhardt Jr. steers his Chevrolet through a practice lap Friday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., ahead of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR