BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) – Jeff Gordon says it’s a good thing that racers are a resilient group.

The cutbacks in support for NASCAR teams announced Friday by General Motors is only the latest in a series of economic blows for stock car racing in the crumbling economy.

But Gordon, a four-time Sprint Cup champion, said NASCAR’s teams will find ways to continue competing.

“The people that are here had to work really hard to get here,” Gordon said. “They’ve had to fight hard along the way. These individuals here in this garage are fighters. They’ll dig down deep to do whatever it takes to continue to race.

“And, also, it’s turned into a big business. And so you have to treat it as a big business. You have to make good, solid business decisions and so do others.”

Gordon, owner of a GM dealership and part owner of teammate Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet, said the biggest problem right now for everyone is the uncertainty.

“We’re going to be resourceful and we’re going to fight hard and do everything we can to stay out there and stay strong,” he said. “And we’re also going to be supporting GM; especially as a dealer, they’ve got some of the best products that I’ve ever seen. And our dealership is plugging away strong right now. We’ve got a huge car sales business that has done a fantastic job making up for some of the changes that are going on. And I’m pretty proud of that.”

Foreign territory

A Toyota will start from the pole in the shadow of America’s Motor City – again.

Brian Vickers put his No. 83 Camry at the front of the field for the second straight Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, about 75 miles from Detroit, the home of America’s Big Three automakers.

Asked what it means for the Japanese car company to steal more thunder from the economically embattled American companies, Vickers said, “It may mean a lot to them, it may not.

“Personally, I didn’t grow up in the Detroit generation – I grew up in a national and international generation.”

He noted that in today’s economy large companies do business all around the world.

“Toyota, in a lot of eyes, and to me with what I’ve learned about them, they are as much of an American car company as anyone,” he said.

“… The Toyota Camry is the only car in the sport right now that’s built in the U.S.”

Vickers is more concerned about turning his qualifying prowess into his first win for Red Bull Racing in his third season with the team.

As far as Toyota taking pride in this pole, he added, “I think a pole for them anywhere is special. I know it is for me.”

Spark plugs

Mark Martin was second to Denny Hamlin in the first Cup practice Saturday and led the second session, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., the defending race winner, improved from 18th in the opening practice to second in the final session. … Carl Edwards, who will start 29th on Sunday, has finished on the lead lap in all nine of his Michigan Cup races and is the only driver with more than one race here who has completed all possible laps. … Tony Stewart won from 28th in 2000, the deepest starting position for a Michigan winner. … Bill Elliott leads all drivers with 29 top-10 finishes (in 57 starts) at MIS, but his last one was a third-place finish in August 2001. … Only 44 drivers made qualifying attempts for the 43 starting spots in Sunday’s race, with Mike Skinner the only driver failing to make the field.


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