Poor economy will continue to wear on NASCAR teams

Even during a tight points race, the economy and its impact on NASCAR remains a key issue with the start of next season a little more than four months away.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France, speaking to reporters this past weekend at Kansas Speedway, said the economy "will continue to have some impact on us."

Questions remain about how many cars some teams will field next season. Roush Fenway Racing has four cars but lacks sponsorship and could cut back to three cars at some point.

Richard Childress Racing, a four-car operation this year, is set with only three cars for next year at this point with Clint Bowyer moving to Michael Waltrip Racing, which will expand to three cars next season. Also, Stewart-Haas Racing will add a third car to run Danica Patrick in select races. But whether the team will field that car for the entire season with another driver will be based upon sponsorship.

Also, officials with Red Bull Racing continue to search for new ownership as Red Bull is set to move on after this season, leaving the status of its two teams in limbo.

France remains confident that if some teams don't field as many cars, other teams will take those spots.

"We often see in the off-season teams that were thinking about moving up but did not want to because there wasn't availability, they couldn't make the event, couldn't make the top 35 or whatever else, [move up]," France said. "I hope everybody comes back, and everybody gets what they need to compete, but if the economy is difficult, it does allow opportunities for others, and that's, I guess, the only silver lining in it."

The economy also affects NASCAR's other series. Turner Motorsports, which fields Nationwide and Camping World truck teams, recently issued a statement that it has notified employees that it might downsize if it can't acquire enough sponsorship. Kevin Harvick Inc., which fields Nationwide and truck teams, already announced it would merge its Nationwide teams with Richard Childress Racing and sell its truck teams. Roanoke.com

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