Truck series champion Ultra Motorsports closes doors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pioneer Jim Smith has folded his Ultra Motorsports team after wrapping up his first championship last November.
A team spokesman cited a disagreement with Ford over the level of its financial support as the reason the elite team, which won the 2005 title behind driver Ted Musgrave, was forced to shut down.
Smith, one of the men credited with starting the truck series in 1995 and owner of Ultra Wheel Co. in Fullerton, Calif., was not available for comment.
Ford Racing Technology spokesman Greg Specht, performance operations manager issued a statement Monday, saying the car company was surprised and disappointed to hear about Ultra's closing.
"We understood they were having some sponsorship difficulties, but we were prepared to support them based on the agreement that we were working out with Jim Smith," Specht said. "Contrary to published reports, we were planning to support their efforts as a manufacturer.
"When we first started speaking with Jim last year, the plan was for them to have a two-truck operation, and we were prepared to support that level of operation. When it became clear that there would be only one truck for this year, we did propose to cut that support back proportionally to help them with a one-truck operation. Our support for the Ultra Motorsports program was going to be equal to our other factory-backed teams in the series."
Specht stressed that Ford is not a team sponsor.
"We provide manufacturer support in ways that a traditional sponsor would not, and we were very willing to provide that support for this year," he said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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