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Economic strain leads to shake-ups in NASCAR

The world economy has been in the grip of the Great Recession for quite some time, but recently it has started to slowly improve. On Thursday, April 17, Swan Racing announced that they are currently in the process of reviewing their current situation and the ability to continue to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This puts the burgeoning careers of Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt in jeopardy, and may just be the tip of the iceberg for NASCAR.

Drivers Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt may have to find new rides before next weekend.
Drivers Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt may have to find new rides before next weekend.Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

"The team has been unable to secure the kind of sponsorship required to effectively operate the team," said a team spokesperson. "As a result, the team management is exploring every available option. We hope to be in position to provide a detailed update in the near future.”

The need for increased sponsor support in every form of motorsports has recently been strained, and more than a few race teams have been forced to close shop. . 2013 NASCAR Nationwide champion Sam Hornish Jr. was forced to find another ride for the 2014 season after his funding at Penske Racing dried up. NASCAR Camping World Truck driver Jeb Burton faced a similar hurdle, where his team was shuttered only weeks before the season opening race in Daytona.

NASCAR may have seen the brunt of these sponsor issues, but they are hardly the only series with issues. The newly formed TUDOR United Sportscar Series has had several teams who are currently reevaluating their plans for this year. ARCA hopeful Josh "White Lightning" White was unable to find enough sponsorship to secure his ride for the 2014 season, and hopes to resume his racing career in 2015.

"Its tough to get anything close to what you require as a team to be effective on the track in today's time but it is even harder finding those that takes the chance on partnering with you for that year. I am struggling this year to even get by at home, phones have been cut off, my website is down, and I am working at Subway, and I am getting a second job," stated White. "The days of having job security in motorsports is over until the economy continues to recover, and these companies start to have a bigger budget. That is when more companies will decide to invest in more advertising and sponsorship venues in all industries, not just motorsports. The days of seeing NASCAR drivers work a job outside of motorsports just to make a living is here. However, things are getting better, and I am still dedicated to what I do and I am committed to the sport of auto racing and I am still looking for sponsors in hopes of a deal. Hopefully if not 2014, maybe 2015 will bless us with a great season and I can continue my racing career."

It will be interesting to see if the corporations step up to the plate to help fund these teams, and if the recent issues of some of the name teams will bring the problems of big money sponsorship to the forefront.