Beth Lunkenheimer · Friday April 10, 2009
As the Camping World Truck Series takes its longest break of the season, sponsorship woes continue to plague the series. When the economy started taking a downturn, I never imagined how serious an impact it would have on NASCAR, and more importantly the Truck Series.
No team owner or driver is immune to the difficulties in finding a sponsor. Shane Sieg, driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports, went to Martinsville Speedway without a sponsor aboard the truck, but a solid second place showing in qualifying gave Woodward Pools, based out of Waycross, Georgia, enough incentive to put their name on his No. 15 truck.
Martinsville marked the final race that Shane Sieg was signed to drive for owner Billy Ballew pending a sponsorship deal. So far there has been no word on whether the team has been able to score a sponsor to allow Sieg to continue racing.
Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 30 for Germain Racing, started the season unsure of whether the team would be able to field his truck for every race. In his unsponsored No. 30, Bodine won the season opener at Daytona and finished second to Kyle Busch in California. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t enough to score a sponsor for the remainder of the Truck Series season.
On the way to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bodine managed to pick up Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery as a primary sponsor for just one race, a race in which he finished third Following that, Bodine was left to hope the team would be able to find a company logo to put on the hood of his No. 30.
In fact, Bodine needed it because the team had planned to skip the trip to Martinsville if they couldn’t find a sponsor to help them out. Lucky for him, Bodine’s good friend Sonny Whelen agreed to put Whelen Engineering Company on the No. 30 for the Kroger 250. Currently, there is no word on who will be aboard the No. 30 at Kansas in two weeks, but the announcements have come pretty close to race weekend previously.
Terry Cook is another driver worried about whether he’ll make his next start in the series at Kansas Speedway in a couple weeks. HT Motorsports agreed to field the No. 25 Toyota for the first four races of the season if they were unable to land a company to plaster across their truck
That time is running out since the Kroger 250 at Martinsville marked the fourth race of the season. The time leading up to the next series race at Kansas is critical in determining whether Terry Cook will be a part of the field when it takes the green flag. The good thing for Cook is that he has scored two top 10 finishes so far this season and sits seventh in points.
Perhaps the most notable driver having trouble landing a sponsorship is defending champion Johnny Benson. The newest driver in the Red Horse Racing stable started the season with K&N Air Filters on his No. 1 Toyota at Daytona International Speedway, but that was just a one race deal.
Since then, Benson has driven a blank truck at California, Atlanta and Martinsville. Last weekend, word came out that Red Horse Racing had found a company willing to sponsor the No. 1 truck, but they hit a little snag. Steve Kaminski with The Grand Rapids Press reported that the team was told if they had the rumored sponsor, a gun manufacturer, television would avoid covering them on the track. Our own Jeff Meyer got to the bottom of this in his Voices From the Heartland column yesterday.
On the other end of the spectrum, Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Ricky Carmichael doesn’t seem to be having much trouble finding a company to back him. He brought Monster Energy Drink to sponsor his Kevin Harvick, Inc. fielded truck for 15 of the 25 scheduled races. At the beginning of the season, the team had planned to just run those 15 races to gain experience.
But team owner Kevin Harvick was so impressed with Carmichael’s performance, he set out to gather sponsors for the remaining races of the season. The first of those races was at Martinsville Speedway; Carmichael drove the No. 4 Chevrolet, sponsored by Oakley to a 29th place finish. There has been no word on who will sponsor that truck for the remaining races.
Despite the teams struggling to find companies, all four fields this season have boasted a full starting grid. With the costs of running a race team each weekend, there is only so long a team is going to be able to stay afloat before they are forced to start missing races or close their doors, and no team is immune.
It’s sad to think some of the drivers that have become an important part of the Camping World Truck Series could be sitting on the sidelines before the end of the season. And more importantly, if something doesn’t start to happen soon, the series entry lists could shrink to a point that would permanently damage, if not destroy, the best racing in NASCAR.
Did You Know
- Kevin Harvick, Inc. owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick and their driver Ron Hornaday, Jr. visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this week? The United States Army presented the Harvicks and Hornaday with the Freedom Team Salute commendations in recognition of the support they show the soldiers.
- FoxSports.com reported last weekend that NASCAR had started looking for a replacement for Camping World? Camping World’s Diana Ardelean denied that report and clarified they remain committed to the Truck Series and are actually looking for a sponsor to replace them for NASCAR’s East and West Series.
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