- May 14, 2006
Toyota's NASCAR presence has other teams sweating
Toyota, currently running roughshod over other automakers in the showrooms, will be hitting NASCAR next year with the goal of doing the same thing to its competition on the track. Word around the pits is that this is causing sleepless nights for other teams, but not for reasons one would think. The concern here isn't the lap times, but simple economics - if Toyota subsidizes its Nextel Cup teams as it does for its teams in the Craftsman Truck series, the support that a big-ticket sponsor has to offer up could be cut in half from the current yearly value of $16M or so. Yanking several million dollars out from under the currently-established teams would be a catastrophic event with the potential of completing shaking up the pecking order. The first bit of evidence in support of this theory is the recent decision by UPS to defect to Michael Waltrip's Toyota team; a decision that certainly could have been fueled by the promise of a greatly-reduced sponsorship bill.
If indeed Toyota offers significant financial support to its teams - which it currently claims is not in the budget - it is unlikely that other manufacturers will step up and start cutting their own checks (as it is, rumors are already flying that one of the Big 3 is already looking to pull out of the Nextel Cup).
[Source: USA Today]