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Speculation about more fallout from GM's bankruptcy runs rampant in Sonoma's NASCAR garage

Is there a Toyota in Richard Petty's future? (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)

   By Mike Mulhern

   SONOMA, Calif.
   The hot scoop latest on the General Motors-NASCAR and the Chrysler-NASCAR situations:
   -- Speculation is increasing that Dodge driver Kasey Kahne, who runs for Richard Petty, could switch to a Toyota by the July 11th Sprint Cup race at Chicago. Petty has said that Chrysler has cut its payments to his four-car operation, and apparently Petty has only enough engine parts for one of the new Dodge NASCAR engines. Petty's business partner, George Gillett, tried last season to make a deal with Toyota. Gillett, who apparently has other sports business problems, related to his ownership of the Liverpool (England) soccer team, just made the decision to sell his Montreal Canadiens, for an estimated $550 million, which may put the rest of his sports empire back on more solid footing. There is no immediate comment from Toyota officials.
   -- There is also speculation that Chevy team owner Richard Childress may have to cut back to a two-car operation next season, if the Shell and Jack Daniels sponsorships are not renewed. Childress says he intends to have four Cup teams again next year, but conceded sponsorship issues remain to be resolved. Shell-sponsored Kevin Harvick is 26th in the Cup standings and winless since the Daytona 500 2007; Jack Daniels-sponsored Casey Mears is 21st in the standings and winless since joining Childress last year.
   -- Childress, through the Winston-Salem law firm Womble, Carlyle, has filed legal papers over what he says is GM's non-payment of a bill of $2,538,750. Childress insists he's not suing GM over its failure to make that payment due June 15th. That bill would apparently be a scheduled quarterly payment, part of a $10 million a year Chevrolet sponsorship for Childress' four-team operation.
   The specifics, as delineated in a legal filing by Womble, Carlyle:  "RCR Enterprises, LLC and its affiliates (collectively “RCR”), by and through their undersigned counsel, hereby submits this limited objection (the “Objection”) to the Notice of (I) Debtors’ Intent to Assume and Assign Certain Executory Contracts, Unexpired Leases of
Personal Property, and Unexpired Leases of Nonresidential Real Property and (II) Cure Costs Related Thereto (the “Notice”), served upon RCR by the above-captioned debtors and debtors-in-possession (collectively, the “Debtors”) pursuant to this Court’s Bidding Procedures Order
[Docket No. 274].
   "…the Debtors served the Notice on RCR, indicating that the Debtors intend to assume and assign their executory contract with RCR (the
“Contract”). In addition, on their Contract Website, the Debtors represent that the cure amount needed to assume and assign the Contract is $0 (the “Cure Amount”). Although no amount is currently owed under the Contract, a payment by the Debtors to RCR in the amount of
$2,538,750 is due under the Contract on June 15, 2009."
   -- There have been numerous legal 'objections' filed by GM's creditors over the past few days, to try to get in line, so to speak, for whatever money the bankruptcy court is willing to eventually dole out. But the key GM legal document everyone is awaiting is the list of GM's "critical vendors," which is a listing of those companies and people that will likely be first in line to get paid from the U.S. government bailout fund. It is unclear which, if any, NASCAR people will be on that list.
   -- One top Cup driver, who asked not to be named, said GM executives themselves appear uncertain about just what is really going on in this bankruptcy and what might happen next: "A couple of weeks ago, they told us 'Everything is fine, everything will be okay. But now they're saying 'We just don't know.'"
   -- In other news, Toyota appears ready to withdraw its financial support of NASCAR Truck and Nationwide teams, though continuing engineering support, in the wake of General Motors' decision to join Ford and Chrysler in withdrawing all but engineering support for those two NASCAR tours. There has been no specific comment on that yet from Toyota executives.
   -- Ford's debut of its new NASCAR engine has been delayed yet again. It was anticipated that Jamie McMurray would run the first version of that motor at Daytona July 4th. It is unclear if the delays are related to general foundry issues in Michigan lately which have dried up supplies of blocks and cylinder heads.
   -- Detroit's NASCAR people are talking with NASCAR officials about a new 'spec' engine ('crate' engine) program for the Truck and Nationwide series, which could be supplied by a 'consortium' of engineers from the four NASCAR car makers, Toyota, Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet. However NASCAR executives have so far shown little interest in such a program. According to one Detroit executive, such a 'spec' engine program could provide competitive Truck and Nationwide engines to a team for perhaps as little as $600,000 for the season.
   -- With former AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. being named GM's new chairman, NASCAR people are hoping that AT&T's long running support of NASCAR (currently as one of the sport's top TV advertisers), including sponsorship of the Richard Childress-Jeff Burton team, may be a positive in Whitacre's analysis of the value of NASCAR racing to GM.

I figured the government

I figured the government takeover of GM and Chrysler would not be good, but it's going worse than even I expected with the racing programs of both suddenly weaker than before (other than, of course, Hendrick Motorsports, which has always seemed to be about the only team GM ever supported to win). I'm now expected Honda to step into Winston Cup and possibly BGN and the Trucks to basically replace both GM and Chrysler. I expect Petty Motorsports to be running Toyotas; hopefully Toyota will give them the backing to win that Chrysler never did.

When (not if) the Detroit 3

When (not if) the Detroit 3 drop completely out of NASCAR you can kiss that series goodbye. There is no way it will continue to draw support with a bunch of Hondas and Toyotas out ther

Pretty soon there will all

Pretty soon there will all foreign cars in the series. This is the perfect storm for them. Honda is itchin to get in, soon BMW, MB, Nissan, Hyundai will try knockin on the door. NASCAR is HUGE!
I don't know.....whatever I guess. As long as I can see these guys continue to race.
Toyota has done well through Gibbs and as of late, Red Bull not to exclude the #00 but with Kasey doing well RIGHT NOW, why throw him in a Toyota?? Not now when KK is 3 points out! Let one of the other RPM guys start running it and get the bugs out. What does RPM know about Toyotas....look MWR and how long it took them!
In the top 12 are 6 Chevys, 3 Fords, 2 Toyotas (Gibbs) and 1 Dodge (Penske). On the bubble 2 Chevys, 2 Toyotas and 1 Dodge (#9).
The #2 and #9 are the best Dodges out there.
They toss KK in a Toyota now and kiss 2009 goodbye which maybe will be good so he'll leave for Stewart-Hass for 2010!!
As for Kahne (my #1 driver) I expect him to defect. Dodge has really screwed the team with multiple changes to where when they get it dialed in, another change. Last year was unbearable! Evernham jumping ship didn't help. The only constant variable has been Kenny Francis!
I really hope to see him get in with Stewart-Haas. Stewart brought him in NASCAR and I think he'd do great with that team! And you know being Hendrick based they'll stay Chevy as long as possible.

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