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Thursday, July 5, 2007
Ginn trying to gain grip on team's explosive growth, sponsors

By Marty Smith
ESPN.com

In a matter of months Ginn Racing doubled its employee base from 100 to 200 people and added a third Nextel Cup Series team. Team officials admit they expanded too quickly, and as a result they are re-evaluating the company structure, CEO Jay Frye said Thursday.

"When you look at a list of [employee] names and say, 'What do these people do?' and no one can answer it, it's time to look at what you're doing and how you're doing it," Frye said.

Though the Nos. 13 and 14 teams seek sponsorship, Frye anticipates Ginn will remain a three-car team in the future. There has been speculation of late that the No. 13 team would soon be shut down; while Frye discounts that, he doesn't hide the need for financial backing.

"We have no intention to shut it down, but there comes a point that you have to get it funded," Frye said of the No. 13 team, driven by Joe Nemechek. "We're very close."

Back in January, Ginn Racing chose to add the third team on the promise that it had secured lock-tight business associations. Two of those deals ultimately fell apart, but having committed to the team, it seemed more viable to secure sponsorship by running the car than by letting it sit idle.

Nemechek performed well, qualifying for four of the first five events via time trials to establish the No. 13 in the top-35 in owners' points. That, in turn, guaranteed its position in the field each week via the NASCAR rule that states that all teams within the top-35 in owners' points are awarded a guaranteed position in each race.

But still no sponsorship.

"I keep hearing we're in trouble, but the fact is the business is still better than last year," Frye said. "It has to get fixed this year, though. No doubt.

"In reality, I'd rather be a strong two-car team than a three-car team without a sponsor. We can't do what we did this year -- in January we thought we were good."

They're also close to securing sponsorship for Sterling Marlin's No. 14, Frye said. The hope there, he said, is to find a sponsor to pick up the rest of 2007 and then extend the deal into the future.

"This company is a good place for sponsors to be," Frye said. "We're in the top-35 [in owners' points] and don't gouge people."

The U.S. Army will return as a full-time team sponsor for Ginn in 2008, Frye said.

Locating sponsorship has become a 24/7 commitment. In the past two weeks, Frye has seen his family for half a day. Total.

Frye told the story of exiting one plane, a redeye flight from Sonoma, Calif., at 6 a.m., and boarding another an hour later to go meet with potential sponsors.

"It's frustrating sometimes, but we owe it to our sponsors to be as efficient as possible," Frye said. "We've always been frugal. We got a little un-frugal, and it's time to evaluate our business. We've got to get it more shored up."

Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.