{mosimage}NASCAR races for three consecutive Saturday nights in May, beginning this weekend in Richmond, Va., when Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400. 

Always an exciting place to watch a race, Richmond International Raceway produces some of the best racing anywhere. Measuring three-quarters of a mile in length, the track is short enough for the drivers to do plenty of beating and banging, yet wide enough for drivers to race different paths all the way around. The result is a short track with superspeedway characteristics. Schedule the race on a Saturday night and you’ve got all the ingredients for some of the best action of the season.

Jeff Burton continues to do what he has to do to stay on top of the point standings. His three top-five finishes and six top 10’s, along with his win at Bristol have all the other competitors looking up at the wiley veteran. The fact that he is squeaky clean and has the best-looking wife of any driver makes Burton a great choice to stay in the lead.

Kyle Busch continues to impress everyone with his start this season. He has won in each of the top NASCAR series. In 21 races, Busch has six wins, 12 top-five finishes and has led an incredible 1,100 laps. And it is just the first of May, folks. A couple of weeks ago, Kyle was within a few points of becoming the first driver in history to lead all three series at the same time. The kicker in all this? The kid is only 22 years old. Could he be the next boy wonder?

The national economic woes that all of us are facing continue to take their toll on team sponsorship. Both of the Fords at Yates Racing are unsponsored. And that’s with both drivers solidly in the top 25 in points. These are teams that are guaranteed to race every week. And yet no one has been found to pony up any dollars to put their logo on a 200 mph billboard. 

Another team struggling to find sponsorship is the #01 of DEI driver Regan Smith. Armed with only an associate sponsorship, the fourth team here has made things work. They are in the top 35 in points, albeit barely. 

So what gives? With a team sponsorship price tag in the range of $10 - $15 million per season, there is only a small pool of companies that can afford to stroke that kind of check. Throw in the dreaded “R” word č the recession that our economy is facing č and it forces many companies to stretch all the dollars that are available to spend. 

Granted, NASCAR fans are the most loyal in all of sports. But some people believe that the air is slowly seeping out of the NASCAR balloon. The recent unification of open-wheel racing could have an effect on the sponsorship pool. And if Danica Patrick wins Indianapolis, watch out. The entire space-time continuum as we know it could skew. Bottom line, if NASCAR does not do something to control costs, then the pool for sponsors will get even smaller.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, then check out the ARCA race at Rockingham Speedway. The first race at The Rock in almost four years will have the richest purse in ARCA history and feature a historical name, the Carolina 500. This was the name of the first race ever run at Rockingham in the early 1960s.

Not too familiar with ARCA? Well, remember all those cars that used to run in NASCAR? They will be running on Sunday, May 4. Kenny Shrader will be running, along with Joey Logano of Joe Gibbs Racing and Bobby Hamilton, Jr. Call (910) 205-8800 for tickets.

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