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NASCAR: Live from Homestead

11/15/2013 - NASCAR

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Sponsor dollars still hard to come by

Rick Hendrick said that interest from potential sponsors "is picking up," but the economic climate remains challenging for owners such as himself seeking to fund championship-caliber teams. While the current Sprint Cup paradigm requires upward of $20 million to fund a team able to yearly compete for titles, like the one Hendrick fields for points leader Jimmie Johnson, finding funds from a single source is less common. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet is one of the few in the garage with a single full-time sponsor.

"I feel like the interest is picking up," Hendrick said. "We're getting more people that we're talking to. The good news is the folks that we have are renewing. That's good. When the economy was at its worst, it looked like the whole financial crisis was affecting the world, we were worried."

Hendrick said his team renewed its sponsorship with Axalta for Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet on Thursday night and the company has "huge plans." In addition, Hendrick said CEOs from Farmer's, which sponsors Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet, visited the team in Phoenix and the chairman of Lowe's will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday as Johnson attempts to win a sixth championship with the company.

Fellow owners Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress concurred, noting a high level of recommitments from existing sponsors.

-- Brant James

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Helton: NASCAR did the right thing

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR president Mike Helton said series executives remain "confident in what we did" in reacting to the outcome-manipulation scandal that marred the final race of the regular season at Richmond International Raceway.

Following the lead of chairman Brian France, the series imposed a series of sanctions on Michael Waltrip Racing that effectively removed its driver, Martin Truex Jr., from the Chase, allowing Ryan Newman in and later inserting Jeff Gordon -- the aggrieved party in a late-race manipulation -- as a 13th championship-eligible contestant. The series then enacted a series of rules attempting to curtail the behavior in the future, including codifying that drivers attempt "100 percent" to advance their positions.

"It's an issue that we have to continue to monitor as well as the industry," Helton said, "but I think for some time the incident itself and our reaction to it and the industry's reaction to it, whether it's through the fans or sponsors or what have you, creates such a huge awareness around it that I think teams will actually for some time be more careful -- which is the purpose of penalties anyway, is to eliminate it from happening again."

Helton added, however, that the sanctioning body is "experienced enough" to remain diligent in monitoring the teams. The restrictions placed on teams entering the Chase opener in Chicago included eliminating digital radios for spotters and limiting one spotter per car on the observation stand during races.

-- Brant James

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