Will Dodge comeback to NASCAR and other thoughts from fans are answered in this week's NASCAR Mailbag.
What are your thoughts that Toyota will race their luxury Lexus RC-F model that currently races in the IMSA series in Monster Cup since the Camaro and probably Mustang and Challenger (likely in 2019) will be racing in the top series? Maybe NASCAR could change the name to the "NASCAR v8 muscle champ car series!!! - Derek
Derek, It's very unlikely since Toyota just debuted its redesigned Camry this season, which it is very excited about and is performing quite well against its competition. It's roughly a year-long process for manufacturers to change car designs, so I wouldn't expect any changes anytime soon. – Jim Utter
With Barney Visser likely shuttering the 77 Toyota for 2018 due to a lack of sponsorship (but maintaining that he wants to bring back a second car) why didn't Toyota perhaps to step up to help somewhat to keep that car on track? When you look at Toyota, despite their speed as a manufacturer, they simply put don't have many teams compared to Ford and Chevrolet. How long before you see Furniture Row bring back the 77? (Perhaps in 2019 with Christopher Bell) Also, where do you see Toyota putting all of these young drivers they have if they have only 5 competitive cars on track? Thank as always! - Nick
Nick, Furniture Row Racing's current No. 77 team exists this season in large part thanks to assistance from Toyota, but that plan was put together sooner than expected with Toyota needing a home for Erik Jones. Now that Carl Edwards left NASCAR and Jones is moving back to JGR, there isn't necessarily anyone Toyota "needs" to make room for. TRD President David Wilson, however, has said he likes having six teams. Without a driver bringing some sponsorship, it is unlikely the 77 will remain open in 2018. In my opinion, the next logical candidate for the 77 at some point could be Christopher Bell (if another veteran doesn't leave JGR). – Jim Utter
I heard that Dodge is coming back to NASCAR? If so, is there a particular team that is currently working with them on the comeback and why did they leave Nascar before? - Ed
Hey Ed, Dodge never left. Mike Harmon and Timmy Hill wheeled Dodges around Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday in the Xfinity Series. But seriously, nothing has changed since the last time we addressed this. The persistent rumor has Richard Childress Racing fielding Dodges in 2019. I guess we’ll all find out together. - Lee Spencer
Do you think there will be another female in one of NASCAR’s Cup or Xfinity Series again anytime soon if Danica does return next year? If yes, who do you think it could be? - Kim
Hey Kim, Danica Patrick had solid sponsorship when she entered NASCAR in 2010. As the support dried up, so did her tenure at Stewart-Haas Racing. That being said, any driver — female or otherwise — had better bring a big checkbook if they hope to ascend NASCAR’s ranks. The last female driver who race in the Xfinity tour that had a solid shot was Johanna Long. She never had the necessary financial backing to afford a consistently competitive car. You mentioned Julia Landauer who enjoyed a better rookie season with the Toyota development program in 2016 before moving to Ford this season. Landauer, 25, finished fourth in the standings last year with seven top fives and 13 top 10s in 14 starts. This season, she’s had one top five and six top 10s in 11 starts. Although still relatively young for an aspiring racing, I fear Landauer has aged out with the current youth movement in NASCAR. Another prospect would be 20-year-old Natalie Decker of Eagle River, Wisconsin. Like Landauer, Decker aligned herself with a solid Toyota program — Venturini Motorsports. In a limited ARCA run, Decker has scored two top-10 finishes and has an average finish of 13.6 in five starts. - Lee Spencer
Doesn't NASCAR approve all team sponsorships? How can let Smithfield leave Richard Petty Motorsports? NASCAR is losing many of its most famous drivers each year - Dale Earnhardt Jr. most notably. Wouldn't losing the King give it another black eye? - Longtime fan David
David, NASCAR must approve sponsors before they enter the sport but they have no say over how long a sponsor stays with a particular team, driver or how big or how small their investment is. That issue is between the sponsor and the team only. Having Richard Petty Motorsports shut down would certainly not be a good thing for any involved, but it is unrealistic to think sponsors who make large financial investments will continue to stay where they are if they are not getting any performance in return. – Jim Utter
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