The economic downturn has finally hit the top of the NASCAR pendulum, as two major announcements in one week may both have negative effects on NASCAR’s top organization.
The first one is that Kellogg’s and Carquest are unsure of their future in the Hendrick organization.
Kellogg’s has been a long time Hendrick sponsor, and is the current sponsor of Mark Martin’s #5 Chevrolet. While both Kellogg’s and Carquest are unsure of their future aboard the #5, car owner Rick Hendrick expects both to come back in 2010, at least in some capacity.
However, the sponsor search will still be on, as it doesn’t appear that either Kellogg’s or Carquest will be back as a primary sponsor. But the #5 won’t be the only car Hendrick goes sponsor searching for.
The Hendrick organization expects to be searching for sponsors for both Jeff Gordon’s #24, and Dale Earnhardt Jr’s #88. While it does not appear that either Dupont(Gordon’s sponsor) or Amp Energy Drink/National Guard(Earnhardt’s sponsors) will be leaving after 2009, Hendrick Motorsports is expected to be looking for more sponsors to help Dupont and Amp/National Guard shoulder the load for the 2010 season.
But while the sponsorship game should really only inconvenience Hendrick Motorsports, another announcement made this week could really hinder their performance.
General Motors has announced that they are cutting some support to its NASCAR teams, including Hendrick Motorsports.
There is no doubt this will really hurt them in the Race to the Chase, especially when you consider that the already struggling Earnhardt Jr., who sits 18th in points, will now have to attempt to race his way into the Chase with lack of support, and will have to beat fully-supported Toyotas and Fords to do it.
Dodge has already had support pulled, so drivers Dodge drivers Earnhardt is racing with, like Kasey Kahne, know how to cope with it.
8th place Mark Martin will also have to hold his ground in the Chase with lack of support. But his job should be easier than Earnhardt’s, as he is already in the top 12 in points.
And if GM continues to cease support through the Chase, it would effect Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who are both expected to be top contenders for the 2009 championship. Could this be the year a manufacturer other than Chevrolet wins the title?
It took awhile. But in this economy, it was inevitable. The economic downturn has finally hit the top of NASCAR’s pendulum.