GM bankruptcy creates ripple effect

Updated: June 17, 2009, 6:20 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- General Motors will reduce its financial support in the Sprint Cup series, officials from several Chevrolet teams confirmed on Wednesday.

Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart Haas Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Richard Childress Racing officials said they have been asked to participate in cutbacks by the U.S. auto manufacturer that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Officials did not say how large the cuts would be.

"We had very productive conversations this week with the folks at General Motors, and it's clear they are committed to racing and committed to our organization," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports in a statement. "They've asked us for some help, and we're going to give it to them.

"We're proud to be a Chevy team, and we will do our part to support the new GM both on and off the racetrack."

Tony Stewart, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and Sprint Cup point leader, echoed Hendrick's sentiments.

"We have been, and will continue to be, strong supporters of GM and its Chevrolet brand," he said. "These are tough times for our auto industry, and in light of what's happening to them and how it affects all the people who make a living building and selling cars and trucks, the sacrifices we'll have to make as a race team are pretty weak in comparison.

"We believe in the products GM has now and in the products they're building for the future. We're proud to carry the Chevy bowtie on the hoods of our racecars, and we support GM in this time of uncertainty because we know they'll be an even stronger company in the years to come."

Stewart said the cutbacks will force teams to review their budgets, but "it will not impact our preparation for the track or the return on investment we provide for our partners."

The cutbacks come a week after GM cut all support from its Nationwide Series and Truck Series teams.

GM is in the process of evaluating the cost effectiveness of several of its programs, including manufacturer support in motorsports. Officials met with several Sprint Cup teams owners on Wednesday.

"Chevrolet's [and GM's] involvement in racing is a sound business decision that translates directly into the sale of cars and trucks," said Steve Janisse, group manager of Chevrolet communications in a statement. "It is essential; however, that we continue to look at every penny we spend as General Motors takes the necessary steps to become a leaner company with a significantly stronger balance sheet. While Chevy Racing is talking to its business partners about ways to reduce cost and maximize the return on investment, it is our policy to not talk about the details of business relationships with our partners."

NASCAR chairman Brian France said last weekend in Michigan he is "confident [GM will] be in the sport for many, many years, because it works for them."

France also said NASCAR is in discussions with other foreign manufacturers that have factories in the U.S. about possibly joining the sport.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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