SBD/Issue 202/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Nationwide Series Faces Tough Economic Times, Uncertain Future

Less Than Half Of Nationwide
Series' Garage Fully Funded
Tough economic times have forced NASCAR Nationwide Series teams to "cut back on the luxuries that not long ago had them challenging the Sprint Cup garage for glitz," according to ESPN.com's David Newton, who wrote under the header, "Nationwide Series At A Crossroads." Less than "half the garage is fully funded, and some argue fewer than half the teams show up expecting to actually compete." The picture is "not pretty, with manufacturers pulling financial support and full sponsors seemingly impossible to secure." Many "expect things to worsen next season when NASCAR introduces the Nationwide version of the Car of Tomorrow, likely in restrictor-plate races and on road courses." Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) VP & GM Ty Norris, whose team runs a Nationwide team on a part-time basis, said, "I want to believe the series is going to be healthy. It's got a pretty bad flu right now, but I believe it can recover." NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France "doesn't believe the doom and gloom is nearly as bad as it appears." France: "Sponsorship could be better, of course, but it is OK." Kevin Harvick Inc. co-Owner DeLana Harvick: "Honestly, this has been a good gut check for a lot of people in this sport. Sometimes things can get out of control as with anything. We're just trying to race more efficiently now." Newton noted that means "making cuts, from the numbers of employees to new uniforms." Norris "estimates it takes an average about $15[M] -- minus driver salary -- to run a cup organization with three cars, compared" to $6-7M to run a "typical Nationwide deal." However, many stand-alone teams "operate on a much lower budget" because sponsors are withdrawing support. Driver Jason Keller "expects more Nationwide sponsors to move to Cup." Keller said sponsors have "got to get their moneymakers taken care of, and their moneymakers are on the Cup side." Keller: "It used to be they had an overabundance of sponsors. An organization like Roush was, 'OK, we'll put Carl Edwards in the Nationwide Series and let you run for a championship.' Those deals are coming harder and harder to come by." Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said the Nationwide Series is "never going to be a place to make money. It's going to be a place to get your next mechanic or crew chief" (ESPN.com, 7/8).

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