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JOLIET, Ill. -- The struggles in the U.S. automobile sales market are trickling down to racing, with the latest blow coming to the Craftsman Truck Series. Dodge will not provide any financial support to any teams in the series in 2009, Dodge Motorsports senior manager Mike Delahanty said.
"We'll have no factory-funded teams," Delahanty told ESPN.com. "When times are tough, there are certain things that are lower on the priority list than others."

Delahanty said the manufacturer's involvement with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series is unaffected.

Dodge had been a powerhouse in the Truck Series earlier this decade, winning 46 of 99 races from 2001-04 and championships with drivers Bobby
Hamilton in 2004 and Ted Musgrave in 2005

In recent years Dodge has scaled back its involvement, with only Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia receiving money from the manufacturer this season. The team ran two trucks for the first 16 races of this season but parked one prior to Saturday's race at Gateway, as financial constraints forced the team to lay off 15 employees and scale back operations to one team.

Dodge informed the team that its factory support would end this season, and BHR-VA has talked to Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota about a switch for 2009.
There are only two full-time Dodges currently in the Truck Series, the BHR-VA No. 18, driven by Dennis Setzer, and the No. 08 of SS Racing/Greenlight Racing, driven by Jason White. The No. 08 has not received any financial assistance from Dodge this year. Other Dodge trucks have raced on a part-time basis without funding, and that could continue next year.

"There's a lot of Dodge trucks, engines and parts out there, [teams] may choose to run them," Delahanty said. "We just won't be writing the checks to any teams."

Unlike the new cars being used in Sprint Cup, which are identical and only recognized as Chevys, Dodges, Fords or Toyotas by decals, NASCAR trucks still differ slightly by manufacturer.

Dodge and its parent company, Chrysler, have had the sharpest downturn in sales lately among U.S. Big Three automakers, which collectively are in their worst sales slump in a decade. Sales in August compared to the previous year were down 35 percent, compared to 20 percent at General Motors and 26 percent at Ford. Honda eclipsed Chrysler as the nation's No. 4 auto seller, and Nissan is close behind.

In July, General Motors notified officials at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway that its contracts would not be renewed, part of an overall $10 billion cost-cutting program.
 

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From the powerhouse to the outhouse. A sad day for Dodge Motorsports fans :(
 

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I guess Chrysler will have to go bankrupt before they realize that you have to spend money to make money. Investment in Nascar is the best marketing tool that they could be involved in. If they think their truck sales are lagging now, just wait until there's NO presence in Nascar. I think that part of the reason Dodge truck sales are off so much more than Ford, GM, and Toyota is because they've all but pulled out of the Nascar Craftsmen Truck series already. Most Dodge guys and potential Dodge guys love Nascar and want some Dodge trucks on the track to cheer for at the races.
It's a sad day for us Dodge truck owners and I fear that it's just the beginning. Sprint Cup support will go away too, I'm afraid. If not next year, then soon. I've been through all this before in the mid-70s. When Richard Petty finally had to switch from Dodge to Chevy in mid-season 1977, I started buying Fords. I guess it's almost time to dust off my old Ford Racing jacket and see if it still fits!
 
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