Leader says Dodge committed to sport

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BROOKLYN, Mich. --- Dodge president and CEO Mike Accavitti reaffirmed the manufacturer's commitment to NASCAR on Sunday. He also made it clear that the brand's involvement in the sport will remain on a smaller scale than some of its competitors.

Dodge backs two multicar teams, Penske Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports. But there is speculation that the Petty team will switch to a different manufacturer next season, and no guarantee Dodge would replace them with a new team.

"We're not a big organization," Accavitti said. "We haven't really been. We need to start acting like the organization that we are. We're nimble and we're smaller than the other guys. And we feel like if we focus our resources on fewer teams, that we can produce better results."

Accavitti said Dodge tried backing more teams in the past, but it spread their resources too thin. At its current level of support, Dodge has two drivers -- Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne -- in solid contention to make the Chase for the Championship.

Accavitti also confirmed reports payments Dodge owed to the Petty team were delayed. But he attributed the issue to procedural issues related to Chrysler's bankruptcy and said it has been resolved.

PRICE DROP: On the same day that he announced plans to lower 2010 ticket prices for every seat at Michigan International Speedway, track president Roger Curtis said he is not in favor of imposing a 6 percent tax on tickets to sporting and entertainment events in Michigan.

Curtis made his comments Sunday in response to media reports that Gov. Jennifer Granholm is considering an entertainment tax as one of several options to eliminate part of the $2.8 billion shortfall in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

"That would be frustrating no doubt, particularly for us," Curtis said. "I know they say we have to tax services in this state.

"Well, we're certainly not a product. I don't even think we're a service. We sell memories. I know I sound like a Hallmark card here, but seriously, when people walk away from this place there's no service here. They walk away with a memory.

"Man, if big brother is going to start taxing your brain, we're all in trouble."

During his news conference, Curtis said the track is extending its fan appreciation program by reducing the price of seats between 5 percent and 63 percent for its two NASCAR weekends in 2010.

Lenny Santiago , a spokesman for International Speedway Corp., which owns the track, said ISC is reviewing its 2010 ticket pricing at its other tracks across the U.S.

KENSETH'S SPONSOR : Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith doesn't expect tough economic times to prevent the team from completing its search for companies to sponsor Matt Kenseth beginning next season.

"The premier assets in the sport, and Matt Kenseth is one of them -- Jimmie Johnson is another one of them up for renewal, for example -- really haven't had to discount on account of the economy," Smith said. "That's because the sponsors are expecting the best performance at the top level, and nobody wants to have the effort diluted."

With longtime sponsor DeWalt leaving Kenseth's car at the end of the season, Crown Royal will take over a half-season's worth of sponsoring Kenseth's car. Smith said the team has two other deals lined up but still has space to sell.


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