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Update: Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday?

  The Wall Street Journal wonders why Detroit isn't racing Muscle Cars, like this Mustang, in NASCAR yet. (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern

   While Chevy's Jimmie Johnson is hot on the track, up in Detroit things at General Motors are still in a state of flux....or maybe even confusion.
    The latest GM shakeup, just this week, involves reshuffling as many as 18 top executives and changes some key jobs that were set only a couple of months ago. 

   The new 'overhaul' follows Ford topping GM in sales for the first time since 1998. Ford has been aiming at increasing market share in the wake of the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy reorganization, and Ford's position may be heightened by the problems Toyota has been hit with.
   Key to Ford's sales gains has been the Fusion, which the company races in NASCAR and which the company markets head-to-head against the Toyota Camry. Fusion sales have doubled over the past year.
   What the GM shakeups might mean for Chevrolet's racing division is unclear.
    For example, Jim Campbell, introduced at Daytona as the new 'boss' of Chevrolet as 'general manager,' by outgoing Chevy boss Brent Dewar, is now only in charge of U.S. marketing for Chevrolet, with the sales part of that job going to Alan Batey, coming over from Australia.
   Another example: Mark Reuss has taken sole charge of North American sales, taking that role from Susan Docherty, who had just been promoted from sales to 'sales, marketing and service.'
Adding to some of the apparent confusion: Last year GM told 2,000 of its dealers would have to close down by this October. However Congress nixed that and insisted on an appeals 'court,'which 1100 dealers filed with. Now GM has decided to let 661 of those dealers stay open.

    Win on Sunday: Sell on Monday?

   Top 10 best-sellers for February 2010

   1. Ford F trucks                         32,895

   2. Honda Accord                       20,024

   3. Chevrolet Silverado trucks  19,822

   4. Toyota Corolla                      16,996

   5. Toyota Camry                       16,552

   6. Honda Civic                          16,471

   7. Ford Fusion                           16,459

   8. Nissan Altima                        16,198

   9. Ford Escape                           15,156

   10. Chevrolet Malibu                15,150


   Those new 'old' flat-blade rear spoilers are expected to debut in the Martinsville 500 March 28, but the real test will likely come during track testing at Talladega and Charlotte later this month.
  "The spoiler is obviously key on everyone's minds, and what that will change," Kevin Harvick, the Sprint Cup tour's points leader, says.
   "Our guys have been to the wind tunnel testing, not just with the spoiler, but anything to get more downforce in our cars," Kyle Busch said.
   "We've built our Martinsville car around that new spoiler, and if they don't come out with the new spoiler at Martinsville, we'll have to do some cutting," one crew chief says.
  "I'm looking forward to running the new spoiler," Greg Biffle says. "I've tested it at Texas World (a two-mile track similar to California and Michigan, only much faster), and it seems like it gives you more front grip and turns better. So we're all looking forward to the Charlotte test to see how the cars handle with it around other cars."
   "Until we get out there racing with the new spoiler, we just won't know," Jeff Burton says. "But the wing has, to me, made it a little easier to keep control when you're inside another car. I don't remember it being that easy with the old spoiler."
   That bump-and-grind half-mile, though, probably won't be as much of a challenge for the new aerodynamics that the bigger tracks bring.
   Cup teams say that the upcoming Talladega test in about 10 days will be a real challenge for NASCAR and the teams, with rear springs, restrictor plate sizes and other tweaks anticipated. NASCAR opened up the plate holes for the Daytona 500, and while that increased the closing rate between cars in the draft, drivers didn't seem to complain much. What plate size NASCAR will wind up with for the Talladega 500 April 25th is not yet set.
   Mark Martin on Talladega: "My expectation is that the plate will be bigger and the drag will be more with the spoiler... and the race will be much wilder than anything we've ever seen before. That should be good for the fans. Not so sure it is good for the color of our hair as drivers, but definitely should be good for the fans."
   While most teams are planning to run the Charlotte test March 22 and March 23, it is not clear how many teams will be at the Talladega test. At the moment it appears that some 15 drivers will be there, though NASCAR is trying to get as many as possible.
   Going up against the Winter Olympics, and a dandy hockey game, Fox' coverage of Sunday's Las Vegas 400 pulled a 4.2 overnight rating (in the top 50 U.S. markets), and that's down more than 20 percent from the 2009 race, which drew a 5.5 overnight rating (the 2009 Las Vegas 400 full national rating was 6.5). However Danica Patrick's Saturday Nationwide run at Las Vegas pulled 10 percent higher overnight ratings (with a 1.7) from the non-Danica 2009 event. This Sunday's Atlanta 500 could be the best stand-alone TV playing field for NASCAR so far; the numbers to consider: Atlanta's 5.6 (overall) and 4.7 overnight ratings in 2009.
    Meanwhile the new Ford engine program keeps slowly moving along. Slowly is the operative word. This track is a notorious engine killer, and Bill Elliott, in Len and Eddie Wood's car, will be the only driver running the new FR9, so how well he fares could be critical to the next step.
   The first major test for all the teams with the FR9 is expected to be in the Charlotte All-star race May 22.
   The FR9 debuted at Talladega last November, with Matt Kenseth and David Ragan. Kenseth had a shot to win until he needed an extra stop late for fuel; he finished 24th, and Ragan ended up 17th. Kasey Kahne, new to the Ford camp this season, won his 150-miler at Daytona with an FR9. Most teams used the FR9 for Daytona qualifying and the 150s but switched to the old 452 for the 500; Elliott (27th), Elliott Sadler (24th) and Kenseth (8th) ran the FR9 in the season opener.
   Those were restrictor plate motors.
   The only unrestricted FR9 was run in the Homestead finale, Ragan finishing 34th.


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  Will the fallout from the latest GM shakeup lead Chevrolet execs to take pace car decals off the new Camaro and let it race head-to-head with Ford's Mustang and Dodge's Charger? (Photo: GM)

I don't mean to sound so

I don't mean to sound so cynical but do you work for GM? I mean you seem to know all the going on in the corporate world! Who is hired or fired what GM executives said this or that etc!

Look the main thing I know is the rating such as TV and attendance in Nascar could be mirroring GM problems off the racetrack!

The race at Las Vegas and the past seasons have been nothing but a GM commercial! Fans are getting tired of it!

If that was any other brand of car that dominated like Jimmie Johnson's Chevy all you could hear from the Fox announcers would be we need to 'EVEN IT UP"! But when a Chevy team dominates its because of "hard work or the Chevy teams", or 'QUALITY OF TEAMS" and all this bull! I dont drink the koolade in this propaganda! I would love to see Johnson and Chad switch brands and see how good they are! Really Johnson is just beating other Chevy teams; he would have a much much harder time with anyother brand under Nascar's favoritism!

Think about it, Nascar has all these Chassis dynos,test center etc, cars with the COT are supposed to be more alike,plus with more competition than ever, Toyota, Dodge, and Ford,results are more one-sided than ever!

I dont hate Chevy teams; they have great cars and teams!, but it's Nascar's fault period for not getting a handle on this problem, no matter on how they dismiss this! Car fans are leaving this sport in droves, until aprox the mid-90s car fans were about 50% of the paying gate!

Nascar used to have something for every fan, Driver Fan and Car Fans. until something changes you will see more declines, and its not just the economy!

The Detroit angle to NASCAR

The Detroit angle to NASCAR is something I've been pounding on for years. after all nascar began as strictly stock. lately i've been curious about nascar's commitment to detroit; detroit has long been committed to nascar, in part because this sport is a high-profile 10-month seven-days-a-week marketing campaign that is well worth the $100 M or so each car maker pumps into it. NASCAR, i feel, should be letting detroit have more input on the race car design lines, which it is, to an extent in the new nationwide car. but that new thing should have been out on the track at daytona three weeks ago....not debuting in the middle of the summer, and then without the camaro component vs mustangs and chargers. the business side of this sport has always intrigued me ( http://bit.ly/beldRi ). and part of the point of this particular piece is that Ford's
Alan Mulally looks to have things running pretty darned smoothly up in Dearborn, while across Detroit, whoever is running GM just keeps reshuffling the deck. Now I'm not quite sure how all that translates down here.....
but you're right that one team dominating the game doesn't make for much fun.....

Mike, Check out these new

Check out these new bodies for the ASA Super Late Model Series:


Don't know if GM had any input on the Camaro design, but it's going to be on the track regardless. The Nationwide versions don't look near as much like the real cars as the late models do.

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