By Steve Mickey
Fans of the Sprint Cup Series are some of the most loyal of any sport and sometimes you may be surprised just where their loyalty lies. The bulk of the fans will pick a driver and stick with him until he retires while others will pick a driver according to the team that he drives for and there is also a large group of fans that support a driver because of the manufacturer logo on his car.
Manufacturers love the exposure that the Sprint Cup Series provides and they are willing to spend the money to make sure that one of their teams makes it way to victory lane on race day. The old saying, “Win on Sunday, Sale on Monday” is still the basis of why Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota spend millions of dollars each season to make sure their teams are competitive when the green flag waves.
Just like the organizations that fields teams in the sport that are constantly looking to add a talented driver to their roster, manufacturers are also always looking for talented teams to add to their lineup of teams. Drivers are looking for the opportunity to make more money and be with a team that can give them better equipment. Multi-team operations are looking for ways to increase their performance and that is where the support that a manufacturer can supply comes into play.
The support that a manufacturer can provide can come in many different forms. Manufacturers can provide teams with technical support that may include everything from engineers to help with research and development to wind tunnel time and computer simulations. Support can also come in the form of parts and equipment that will save the teams both time and money.
Now the level of support that the different organizations receive from a manufacturer will vary and as you would expect it is a case of the rich getting richer as the more successful the organization the more backing it will receive. Hendrick Motorsports sits atop the Chevrolet manufacturers followed by Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. Joe Gibbs Racing is the flag bearer for Toyota followed at a distance by Michael Waltrip Racing.
Jack Roush Racing has always been at the lead for Ford but recent struggles by that organization has Penske Racing carrying the colors for the Blue Oval.
Teams will change manufacturers if the price is right and if it offers the opportunity to improve the product that it puts on the track. Joe Gibbs Racing was the last big operation to switch manufacturers as it left Chevrolet a couple of years ago to go to Toyota because as long as they stayed with Chevrolet they would be third behind Hendrick and Childress as far as support.
The latest team that is being wooed by another manufacturer is Furniture Row Racing with its driver Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row is a one team operation based in Denver, Colorado and presently enjoys a technical relationship with Richard Childress Racing that provides the team both chassis and engines. The relationship has been great for Truex Jr. as he is the latest driver to make the Chase with a trip to victory lane.
Furniture Row was approached by Toyota before the beginning of this season to make the move but decided to stay with Chevrolet and Childress. Toyota has once again begun discussions with Furniture Row to campaign its Camry in 2016. While Gibbs has already put three of its four drivers in the Chase this season, Waltrip’s Toyotas have become non-competitive on race day leaving Toyota searching for more teams to add for next season.
Truex Jr. and Furniture Row have proved that they can win and Toyota knows in order for it to see a return in their huge investment, they have to see a Camry in victory lane because the results of Sunday show up in the dealerships on Monday.
Event: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Track: Sonoma Raceway (1.99 mile Road Course with 10 turns)
Date: June 28, 3:00 P.M.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Defending Champion: Carl Edwards