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The Texas Notebook: Trucks facing more trouble....Truex to Gibbs? And will Penske jump to Toyota?

   By Mike Mulhern

   FORT WORTH, Texas
   There may be yet more bad news for NASCAR's beleaguered Truckers. New sponsor Camping World may be sidelined sometime this season, apparently a victim of the sluggish economy, and NASCAR executives are said to be looking around for a potential new Truck series sponsor.
    However the future of the Truck tour itself has been the topic of debate for several months now, and with the General Motors' situation there is speculation about the future of GM's own Truck teams.
    Elsewhere in the NASCAR garage, the future of Aric Almirola, the promising newcomer to the sport, may be linked to the future of Martin Truex Jr. at Chip Ganassi's. Almirola, without new sponsorship, will likely be out of a ride within the next week or so. And reports are that Truex' could then be considering a jump to Joe Gibbs' Toyota team, taking sponsor Bass Pro Shops too. Truex has been working the market for more than a year now, and the merger between Teresa Earnhardt's DEI and Ganassi -- which brought Ganassi from the Dodge camp into the GM-Chevy camp -- may thus be facing more trouble. If Truex were to leave, and become part of a new fourth Gibbs team, then Juan Pablo Montoya might be the lone driver left in the Ganassi camp.
   Meanwhile speculation mounts that some Dodge teams may be looking to bolt, depending on how the Washington-Detroit-Chrysler-Fiat talks go.
   Most prominent in the speculation is that Roger Penske, who is one of the nation's biggest Toyota dealers, may move Kurt Busch's Dodge team, which just won at Atlanta, into the Toyota camp. A Penske-Toyota-NASCAR scenario has been bandied about for several years.
    There was no immediate comment from officials at Chrysler, but Toyota racing boss Lee White said "Unless RP has resorted to secretly stealing our parts, there is not chance he's running anything remotely resembling a Toyota in the foreseeable future. It's just another of many false rumors."
    However, when asked what the response might be if Penske or anyone else wanted to change to racing Toyotas, White said "We are open for customers. And our parts are competitively priced."

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