NASCAR Not Letting Toyota Join Other Teams, Won't Let GEM Make Switch

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IOctober 27, 2008

The current rumor in the garage is that Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, founded by Ray Evernham when Dodge reentered the sport, may be switching to Toyota.

Well, if NASCAR gets their way, GEM will remain in Dodges. And, if it happens, don't expect there to be an "Evernham" in that title.

"I do have a percentage stake that Mr. Gillett and I could talk about but a lot of it depends on what his future is and where he's headed," Evernham said in a Sirius Speedway interview. "But that offer is on the table, yes, but not complete. It is just to make me a smaller partner. It was not the complete buyout."

Evernham also admits he's working more on the competition side of the team; he's left the business side to Gillett.

"To my knowledge, George is talking about several different things and to his credit, as I've said before, he's going to do what he believes it takes to win a championship," Evernham said. "And that's why he purchased the race team."

"Again, I'm removed from the business side. I try to help George with the competition stuff but George has made it very clear to me and to Dodge and to everybody else that he wants to win a championship. He's going to do what it takes."

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, however, NASCAR has told GEM that they won't allow the team to switch over to Toyotas for next year.  This could affect Bill Davis Racing, who was looking for a business partner for 2009, but may not have it if GEM stays with Dodge.

If GEM does make the switch to Toyota, Penske Racing is expected to be the Dodge engine provider for the Cup Series.  They already lease engines to Robby Gordon Racing.

Rumors also have Penske, who runs one of the biggest Toyota dealerships in the United States, may become a Toyota satellite team in two years, beginning in 2010.

The fate of Dodge itself is a huge unknown, with a merger between GM and Chrysler expected soon.

Several speculate that several teams, such as Bill Davis Racing, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Petty Enterprises, and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, will all have to merge. 

DEI only has one full time sponsor for their four cars, and CGRWFS has Target for their driverless No. 41, but only have nineteen races sponsored for Juan Pablo Montoya.  Bobby Labonte, driver of Petty's #43, is also in need of sponsorship.

Only 32 cars for next year's field are fully funded.

NASCAR, according to the Journal, has also apparently told Toyota to stop buying into top teams. No other details are known about that conversation, but I'm sure we'll learn more in the coming days.

Toyota signed Joe Gibbs Racing last season; the pairing has won ten races this year, and all three JGR cars made the Chase.

Dodge will already lose one car for the 2009 season. Petty Enterprises has announced that it will be running only two cars next year, leaving Kyle Petty out of a ride.  The manufacturer lost the No. 40 Dodge of Dario Franchitti earlier in the year due to lack of sponsorship.

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the coming days, with a possible GEM switch to Toyota, if NASCAR even allows them to make the switch.