NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said Sunday at Phoenix that the sanctioning body would welcome the participation of additional manufacturers in NASCAR's top three series.

France made his remarks against a backdrop of declining revenues for the United States' Big Three automakers - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - the announcement that Ford and Dodge will end their direct financial support for the Craftsman Truck Series and on-again, off-again merger talks between General Motors and Chrysler.

Toyota is the only foreign manufacturer competing in any of NASCAR's top three series, having made its Cup and Nationwide Series debuts last year, after entering the Craftsman Truck Series in 2004.

"We would be open to other manufacturers provided that they were to operate and approach the sport like Toyota and others have done," France said. "So that's number one.

"Number two, we have talked to other manufacturers. This is probably not the best time for them to put big bets down. ... And I would make a final point about the manufacturers. They play a very important role in lots of ways, in direct support to the teams, that's important; the branding and the heritage that they're part of the sport in a very unique way.

"But we're not also going to live or die if one manufacturer or another manufacturer has a pull-back or a pull-out. I hope it doesn't happen. We're working like mad to make sure it doesn't. And it wouldn't be our first choice by any stretch.

"But the sport is on very, very solid ground that transcends one manufacturer or another. And that's how you have to look at it. I think we have been as aggressive as anybody, even when we got criticism for looking at opening up to either foreign manufacturers or anyone else.

"But we're going to continue to do that because we think the manufacturing component has a very big important additive thing to this sport. And we're going to keep working with our partners even when they're in challenging times."
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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