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Woody: Nashville Team Smokin’ – For Now

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, June 5 2010

The news could be bad for the Nationwide Series car owned by Gary Baker. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Nashville – Is a promising season for Baker Curb Racing about to go up in smoke?

Maybe that’s not the correct term, since it’s “smokeless” that’s the issue.

A federal ban on smokeless tobacco advertising by sports teams goes into effect June 22 and will cost the Nashville-based team its Red Man Tobacco sponsor.

“We knew that ax was potentially hanging over our necks when Red Man came aboard,” said Baker, who along with partner Mike Curb will field the No. 27 and No. 43 cars in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race at Nashville Superspeedway.

“The ax fell in mid-March when President Obama signed an executive order extending the advertising ban on smoking products to include smokeless products.”

Two races are left – Nashville and Kentucky – before the ban goes into effect. Baker said he is “hopeful and optimistic” that another sponsor can be brought aboard by then.

He said the timing couldn’t have been worse for the team – formerly known as Brewco Motorsports – that’s chasing its first win since moving to Nashville three years ago.

“If this had hit us at the end of the season I’m confident that we could find another sponsor,” he said, “but coming in mid-season like this makes it a lot harder. I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire and hopefully they’ll work out.”

The sponsorship setback is especially frustrating because the team has been doing so well this season. Driver Greg Biffle has been in position to win two or three races and is 8th in the standings.

“We’re fielding cars that are capable of winning races,” Baker said. “We’re that close. People who told us we couldn’t race out of Nashville were wrong. It’s doubly frustrating to work so hard, be so close, and then have to be distracted by something like this (sponsor loss).”

Biffle, who planned to drive only a partial schedule this season, will be replaced Saturday by Scott Wimmer. Scott Lagasse will drive the team’s second car in the 7 p.m., ESPN2-televised race. Lagasse is Lagasse 16th  in the standings.

Two of the series’ most dominate drivers – Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick – are skipping the Nashville race to concentrate on their Sprint Cup efforts at Pocono. That offers an opportunity for other drivers to make a move. Baker said his drivers are in that mix.

“Nashville is always an important race for our team and this one is no different,” he said. “There’d be nothing better than having a win on our resume when we sit down to talk to a potential sponsor.”

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, June 5 2010
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