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Will NASCAR have to rename it The Toyota Truck Tour, now that GM is joining Ford and Dodge and pulling out?

Young and promising Colin Braun: Perfect for NASCAR's Truck series, and Saturday's Michigan 200 winner. But the Truck Tour itself is in serious trouble (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   Now the ball is in Toyota's court – the fate of NASCAR's Truck series perhaps.
   Ford has pulled out, Dodge has pulled out, now General Motors is pulling out too.
   That leaves Toyota as the only car maker still actively supporting NASCAR Trucks.
   And Ford and Chevrolet officials both question if Toyota will be willing to keep spending money supporting its NASCAR Truck teams if it's the only player left on the field.
   Yes, Colin Braun won Saturday's Truck race here in a Jack Roush Ford.
   But Geoff Smith, who runs RoushFenway Racing, says that Roush's lone Truck team is being run at a deficit, because of Ford's pullout, and Smith said Sunday that Roush will not field a Truck next season.
   "The Truck series is really exciting racing," Smith says. "But there's not money coming into the Truck series for sponsorship, and the fan base for Trucks is so small compared to Cup.
   "And right now in the Truck series we're going through a transition from where it was all (Detroit) manufacturer-economic dominated, to where the manufacturers are withdrawing a significant portion of their economic sponsorship.
   "The revenue side of the Truck series is really disturbed right now, by the pullback from Ford and General Motors and Chrysler…and now we're waiting for the shoe to fall from Toyota.
   "When three out of four are pulling out, you'd think the fourth would pull back too.
   "We are only in the Truck series this year with one team because we'd made a sponsorship commitment to Conway Freight to run that program this year…but with the reduced economic support from Ford, we're having our shorts handed to us financially. So we just can't afford to participate any more next year.
   "Now General Motors is reducing its support too, we could have a Truck series with only one player and nobody competes against him.
    "This Truck series will either be the Toyota Series, if they stay in with their money, or it will be like SCCA Trans-Am when the manufacturers decided that venue wasn't where they needed to put their marketing dollars -- So when the factories pulled out, we pulled out…and the amateurs came in."

   Of course a big reason Toyota got into NASCAR at the Sprint Cup level was not to pump up Camry sales (long one of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S.) but to make its Tundra part of mainstream America – image.
   So, what do Tundra sales look like right now?
   Ford's F150 has remained the leader in truck sales: In 2007 (before the recession) Ford sold 690,000; in 2008 Ford sold 515,000.
   Chevy's Silverado (the marquee raced in NASCAR) sales in 2007 hit 618,000; in 2008 Silverado sales dipped to 465,000.
   Tundra sales in 2000 were 108,000. Toyota started racing NASCAR Trucks in 2004 and stepped up to Cup in 2007. In 2007 Tundra sales 196,000; in 2008 Tundra sales fell to 137,000.
    Is that enough marketing impact for Toyota to stay in NASCAR Trucks?
    And if Toyota too pulls out, what happens to the Truck series and its two dozen fairly solid teams?
   Wholesale pink slips?
    Or will NASCAR executives come up with a Plan B?

Ford's Colin Braun at Saturday's finish. But with the Truck series fading, what's next for young and upcoming NASCAR racers? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



truck series

the truck series might as well be dead. Low attendence at races will get even worse if toyota is the only manufacturer out there. The same if nas$car lets Honda and Mazda into sprint cup. American nas$car fanhs are sick and tied of seeing their sport being rules by foreign makes. If you don't think that has nothing to the low attendence, what are you smoking. I know toyota makes a great car, but this goes beyond that. Nationwide races have become a toyota fest. I watched maybe a fifth of. Watched baseball instead. And I'm a fan who has watched nas$car for close to 30 years. This and other issues are making nas$car just another option on the week-end as far as tv goes. Wake up nas$car.

Truck series

Just can the trucks and put more focus on the grand-am series.

NASCAR should step in..

NASCAR should step in and force the Mega-Cup teams (HMS, JGR, Roush, etc) to field at least two trucks with rookie non Sprint Cup drivers if they want to be in SC with all those teams. Make it a true driver development series.

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