The fact Chevrolet joined Chrysler and Ford in cutting support to racing programs in NASCAR's top three series is hardly surprising, given the stark reality of the economy as a whole, but such moves may hasten the arrival of more foreign carmakers.

"We have been talking to people for off and on for a long time," NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said before Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. "These are decisions in terms of the new manufacturers joining the sport that would take a long time to evaluate and actually enter.

"Of course, we're the preeminent place in North America for car manufacturers to build their business with an auto racing group. We remain that, and clearly there's some companies that are going to look at opportunities that may not have even been there in the past that could be presented in the future.

"We'll have our philosophical approach to that in terms of welcoming new companies in, as we did with Toyota. It is under a very clear set of circumstances that the manufacturers come to NASCAR to compete. And that will not change."

Though France declined to identify manufacturers that have had discussions with NASCAR, a logical entrant into the sport would be Honda, which competes head to head with its Japanese counterpart Toyota.

NASCAR also may be looking across the Atlantic as well as the Pacific, given that approximately 33 per cent of the world's annual production of passenger cars occurs in the European Union.

"I'm not going to name names," France said, "but we have companies that are interested in particular in developing the North American market as robust as they can. And you are well aware -- as we all are -- of the foreign manufacturers now producing cars here in America."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


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