- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

BROOKLYN, Mich. | General Motors has told NASCAR teams it is cutting back on its support in all of the sanctioning body’s professional series.

Among the teams already notified that they will lose funding are JR Motorsports, owned by Sprint Cup star Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick Inc., co-owned by Cup star Harvick and his wife, DeLana. JRM races in the second-tier Nationwide Series, while KHI has entries in Nationwide and the third-tier Camping World Truck Series.

Cuts are also expected in the top-tier Sprint Cup series.

Chevrolet spokesman Terry Rhadigan said Friday that GM, reorganizing through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, said cuts would be made soon.

“Our discussions are indeed NASCAR-wide,” he said.

Rhadigan would not say if one series would be affected more than others, nor would he say the size of the cuts or how much GM spends on NASCAR. The automaker, through its Chevrolet brand, provides cash and other support to teams, including engines and parts.

Rhadigan, however, said GM has no plans to withdraw Chevrolet from the stock car sport.

“Racing is still in Chevrolet’s DNA, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” he said.

Both JRM and KHI issued statements, acknowledging they must adjust their business models to address the funding cuts.

“We are fully capable of adjusting our business model to accommodate this change, and with the backing of Hendrick Motorsports, we will continue to lend our full support to Chevrolet,” Kelley Earnhardt, general manager of JR Motorsports and Earnhardt’s sister, said.

“The manufacturer support GM provides at the NASCAR Sprint Cup level is more critical in nature than in the Nationwide Series, and I hope Chevy is able to continue supporting that level, as the promotion of NASCAR works well for its demographics.”

Earnhardt Jr. said his Nationwide team is going to have to get creative to make up for the lost resources from GM.

“We’ll be able to do some unique programs with our sponsors and future partners to try to cover that expense,” he said. “I personally in no way feel like it’s changing my relationship or my perception toward Chevrolet and how I’ll work with them in the future.”

Vickers claims pole

Brian Vickers has won the pole for the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

It was the eighth pole of his Cup career and third of the season for the Red Bull Racing driver. Vickers posted a lap of 189.110 mph on the two-mile Michigan oval that will host Sunday’s race. Runner-up Kyle Busch wasn’t close at 188.536.

Three-time reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was third at 188.299, followed by David Reutimann at 188.137, Kurt Busch at 187.950 and AJ Allmendinger at 187.891.

Ragan gets extra help

Roush Fenway Racing is hoping to give David Ragan a boost, assigning the team’s engineering manager to work with the struggling NASCAR Sprint Cup driver’s team for the next five weeks.

Chris Andrews will work alongside crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who will continue to call the races from the pit box of the No. 6 UPS Ford.

“I made the decision on Chris’ special assignment for the next five weeks after consulting with Robbie Reiser, our general manager, and the other RFR crew chiefs,” team co-owner Jack Roush said. “We arrived at the consensus for Chris to assist Jimmy and David with the application of our engineering tools to help with pre-weekend preparation and tuning at the track.”

Ragan was one of the biggest surprises of the 2008 season when he finished 13th in the season points. In the first 14 races this season, Ragan has only one top-10 finish and is 31st in the standings.

From combined dispatches

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