Toyota's spending creating unfair advantage in NASCAR?

Thayne HallyburtonCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2008

Toyota has brought about a lot of change in the NASCAR garages. Just ask Jack Rousch.

"They've spent maybe more money and spent it in areas that other teams haven't, and with that they've gotten the result that you might get from working harder and expending more resources," Roush said. "There is a limit to what you can reasonably afford to spend, given the traditional level of sponsorship and the traditional level of support that comes from the manufacturers, and the traditional level of support that comes from the decal sponsors on the car."

"If Toyota is upsetting that, if they're spending more money, which I'm given to believe they are, then they've got an advantage. But it's not unfair, because if we wanted to spend or could spend that much money, we could do the same thing," explained Roush.

This is where I disagree with Jack Roush. It is an unfair advantage, as they have more money than anyone to spend. I think Roush is not being candid enough here because he knows there is no one in the garage that can spend money like Toyota. Heck, he probably has more money in his bank account than his manufacturer (Ford) does.

Gone are the single car teams with small sponsors. It takes major money, a major sponsor, or both to compete in NASCAR's upper echelon. Big name team owners such as Jack Roush and Ray Evernham had to look for outside partners to keep paying the bills.

For Rousch it was the Fenway group who own the Boston Red Sox and for Evernham it was George Gillette who also owns the Montreal Canadians and perenial European Football powerhouses, Arsenal.

The power that Toyota is putting out has been attributed to the amount of money that they have spent of late on engine development. Claims of more than a 20 horsepower advantage are out there. I think the number is probably around 8-12 horsepower, otherwise Toyota would be killing everyone, but that is a substantial number.

This past weekend's Kyle Busch Toyota-powered win, has brought the argument of whether or not Toyota is good for the sport to the forefront.

With America's economic downswing and major sponsors being harder and harder to find, the future for NASCAR is not as bright as it once was. Toyota is just adding to this financial pressure, so much so, that former Winston cup champion owners, Moirgan McClure Motorsports, who used to field the most feared cars in the sport have had to close their doors.

This is just one of many names.

Other teams are seeking mergers to keep their heads above water. Rousch and Robert Yates Racing have joined forces in the motor department and GINN Racing basically folded and molded into Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, but it was called a merger at the time.

In the end, Toyota's spending will do nothing but hurt the sport that has become America's real pastime.