US retail giant Kmart has 'suspended' its sponsorship of Travis Carter's two car NASCAR Winston Cup outfit he co-owns with CART team boss Carl Haas in the wake of its recent claim for bankruptcy protection.

Just days before the start of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season and Travis Carter faces the prospect of taking two virtually unsponsored cars to the Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening Bud Shootout and the spectacle that is the Daytona 500.

After filing for bankruptcy protection in mid-January, US retailers Kmart have, according to company officials, "suspended" their sponsorship of the No.26 and No.66 Ford Taurus' set to be driven by Joe Nemechek and Todd Bodine in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season.

However the company have stated that they have not ended their relationship with the Carter/Carl Haas owned outfit as Carter recently announced that the firm had already paid their first sponsorship instalment cheque of the year. Whether that cheque was cashed or not remains another matter.

Unless Carter and Kmart can clear the air surrounding the future of the team, which depends on Kmart money, before Daytona, it is likely that both Nemechek and Bodine will run with no primary logos in the Bud Shootout (Bodine), Gatorade 125 qualifiers and the '500.

Should Kmart fail to survive their current worries, the collapse of their sponsorship relations with Carter would be a crippling blow for the veteran team owner who has run cars in NASCAR's top series since 1989. Last season Carter's drivers Jimmy Spencer and Bodine finished16th and 29th respectively in the final Winston Cup standings with five pole positions and five top five finishes between them.