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NASCAR is an economic indicator

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

If there is one sport I thought was strong financially, it was NASCAR. It has a loyal following and television ratings are consistently strong.

But even NASCAR has been hit by this recession, and it may have an impact on local driver Chad McCumbee.

This season he is racing for SS Green Light Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and through three races he is fifth in points.

SS Green Light Racing is an experienced NASCAR team. According to its Web site, since the first race of 2001, the team has more than 450 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, including 199 straight events.

“The team has soldiered on with limited resources, using dozens of drivers, mostly running mid-pack, receiving minimal media exposure,” it says in a release.

But at the end of 2008, co-owners Ken Smith and Dotter decided to retool the team. Rather than running two full-time trucks, they decided to run a partial schedule with one truck, using their available resources for 12 races, rather than spreading their limited funding over a full season.

They also decided to hire McCumbee to be their driver for the No. 07 truck. McCumbee, 24, has run part-time in the Sprint Cup series for Petty Enterprises the last two seasons. Of course, he also is well known for portraying a young Dale Earnhardt Jr. in “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story.”

Smith and Dotter’s plan is working about as well as they had hoped. McCumbee has finished third at California and sixth at Atlanta.

The next race is the Kroger 250 Saturday at Martinsville, Va., a short track. It was not a race the SS Green Light team had on its original schedule.

“However, the team has a very solid short-track truck race-ready for the trip to the famous Virginia short track,” it said in its release. “The team needs additional support to cover the expenses involved in competing in the (race).”

Any other year, and this team—or any other NASCAR team—would be hopeful of finding a sponsor. But this year, it may be wishful thinking.

Smith tells potential sponsors, “SS Green Light Racing is a full-service motorsports marketing organization, not just a name going around a track. We work together with potential partners and then develop the best solution to maximize the most for their marketing dollars.”

Dotter wants to continue what may be a special season.

“I can’t say enough about where we are as a team,” he said. “The guys have done a great job both at the track and the shop. Chad brings so much to us. If we find a marketing partner for Martinsville and Dover (May 29), we can keep him in the hunt for the 2009 NCWTS points championship.”

“Originally,” McCumbee said, “Martinsville wasn’t on our list. We are really looking for funding right now to get us there. I think we have something to sell right now.

“This is a veteran team, and these guys have really turned this program around. We just need a little more support to get to Martinsville and keep this thing going.”

This column went to press before an announcement was made about whether McCumbee will be racing at Martinsville. I suppose if he and his team see their shadow during the afternoon race at Martinsville, maybe that will mean the recession will end in six months. If not, if the truck remains locked in a garage at team headquarters in Mooresville, count on six more months of bad news for NASCAR and the rest of us.

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.