Monday, October 20, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Ford To Remain In Cup, Back Away From Trucks

Ford Racing has extended its commitment to NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing for the next five years, signing an extension of its current contract with Roush-Fenway Racing. Jack Roush confirmed that deal this weekend, saying, "Ford has made us a commitment for five years going forward…that we feel is adequate to our needs." Roush currently fields five of Ford’s eight Sprint Cup Series teams, and has a close alliance with Yates Racing, which fields two others.

However, Roush also revealed that Ford will join Dodge in withdrawing its monetary support for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next season, in response to a downturn in sales and a sluggish economy. Director of Ford Racing Technology Brian Wolfe said the Detroit automaker will continue to provide some technical and engineering support to Truck Series teams, adding, "We remain positive about the performance of our teams and their dedication to the company during these challenging times."

Sources close to Roush Fenway Racing say the decision could result in the closure of at least two of the team’s three Truck Series teams. Roush currently fields Erik Darnell’s Northern Tool and Equipment #99, the #6 ConWay Freight Ford driven by rookie Colin Braun, and the #09 Zaxby’s Ford driven last weekend at Martinsville Speedway by Jamie McMurray. Ford also supports three other Truck Series entries for Circle Bar Racing (Rick Crawford and Brendan Gaughan) and the Wood Brothers (Jon Wood).

In other manufacturer news, Gillett Evernham Motorsports is now almost certain to jump from Dodge to Toyota next season.

Sirius Speedway first reported on that possibility more than a month ago, and there have been other published reports to that effect in recent weeks. But based on conversations in the NASCAR garage this weekend with sources close to both GEM and Dodge, it appears that a deal is imminent within the next few weeks, or even days.

Sirius Speedway has learned that the deal will hinge upon Gillett Evernham’s purchase of the Bill Davis Racing Sprint Cup Series team -- complete with its Toyota factory relationship – and would put Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson in Toyotas next season. Gillett Evernham has arguably been argueably most successful team of 2009, with Kahne winning a pair of point-counting events and the NASCAR Sprint All Star Race. GEM also plays a major role in Dodge’s engine development program.

Bill Davis Racing’s highly successful NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams will reportedly not be a part of the sale.

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