HFR undecided about following Gibbs Racing to Toyota

Updated: August 31, 2007, 9:11 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

FONTANA, Calif. -- Philippe Lopez, the general manager for Hall of Fame Racing and the No. 96 Chevrolet driven by Tony Raines, said the team has not made a decision about whether it will follow Joe Gibbs Racing to Toyota.

Hall of Fame Racing is a one-car team co-owned by former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. The team has a partnership with JGR, which supplies engines, chassis and bodies to Hall of Fame Racing in a lease agreement.

The No. 96 employees also work closely with the JGR engineers on research and development. If Hall of Fame Racing wants to continue its relationship with Gibbs, it will have to switch to Toyota.

"I know everyone thinks this is a done deal, but it's not an automatic for us," Lopez said. "We are a separate team and we'll have to cut our own deal with Toyota. As of now, we haven't really talked to them. We've been in limbo."

Lopez said HFR is in the second year of a three-year contract with JGR.

"That contract really doesn't exist now because it says they supply us with Chevrolet parts," Lopez said. "J.D. Gibbs [president of JGR] said he wants us to continue our association with them, but nothing is decided."

Lopez said it's possible their team could stay with Chevrolet.

"The most important things to us is to be associated with a major power," Lopez said. "If we stay with General Motors, we would need to try to align ourselves with Hendrick Motorsports or RCR [Richard Childress Racing]. If we go to Toyota, we would make a new deal with Gibbs."

Lopez is confident JGR will make Toyota a winner.

"There's no doubt in my mind," Lopez said. "Believe me, they would not make a huge decision like this without knowing they could be competitive."

But the move by JGR has caused some problems for Hall of Fame Racing.

"It has put us in a bit of a disadvantage," Lopez said. "We were hoping to go to a two-car team, but we can't negotiate with sponsors when we don't know who our manufacturer will be next year. And we definitely can't talk to drivers."

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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