When a lack of funding reduced NASCAR Truck Series contender Grant Enfinger to a part-time schedule this season, Marcus Lemonis took that personally.
Enfinger won four times in 2020 and advanced to the final four at Phoenix Raceway where he was poised to win until a late caution shuffled the dynamic and led to a Sheldon Creed victory and championship.
Instead of earning another shot at the title, Enfinger was forced to share his No. 98 ThorSport Racing Toyota with Christian Eckes in 2021.
Speaking of Creed, he largely races sponsorless trucks funded by grandfather Maurice Ortega, a California construction magnate.
There are numerous trucks with just partial funding in the Camping World Truck Series and Lemonis, its chief benefactor, has concocted a plan this weekend to change that at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hey @NASCAR_Trucks ..time running out … 15k for a wrapped truck.. the 15k turns into 25 with a top 10, 35 with a top 5 and 50 with a win instead of 15 …. IN or OUT ? #campingworldnascar pic.twitter.com/ISfzB8f54O
Enfinger was supposed to be off for a second consecutive race, but he’s back on Friday night behind the wheel of the Rohrbaugh Racing No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado with financial support from Camping World.
Don’t ever count em out… that’s what I say about every single @NASCAR_Trucks driver … pic.twitter.com/lIXysQ39Db
Lemonis extended a sponsorship gesture to the entire field, offering a base rate of $15,000 for any team that ran the Camping World colors on Friday night with the amount of funding incrementally increasing for finishes in the top-15, top-10 and top-5.
At least seven of the 40 teams on the entry list had no listed sponsor or were self-sponsored. Several teams have already accepted the challenge. If a truck with the Camping World colors wins the race, Lemonis said he would pay that team $50,000.
I’m in @marcuslemonis !! So excited to be running @CampingWorld colours this weekend @LVMotorSpeedway with @GMSRacingLLC ☝️ pic.twitter.com/qfPGnlVDXp
You ready to roll the dice in Vegas @marcuslemonis @CampingWorld pic.twitter.com/iX10yyVJWQ
Talking to @marcuslemonis at 1am and designing a @CampingWorld @NASCAR_Trucks was definitely a welcome reason to be up late 🙌🏼 thank you guys for all the awesome tweets. pic.twitter.com/6XJ8Lny1qI
A third of the field will have an identical Camping World paint scheme on Friday night.
It’s not a sustainable model, of course, and only highlights the struggles of securing sponsorship to compete at the third-highest level of the discipline.
It takes at least $1.5 million dollars to compete in the Truck Series and nearly $3 million to race for a championship. Lemonis, who is just short of a billionaire, has the capitol to keep this up — especially if it generates positive publicity for his companies.
$15,000 over 22 races is $33,000 and $50,000 for winning every race would amount to $1.1 million, so teams are still facing a large financial challenge to stay afloat.
NASCAR Cup Series star Brad Keselowski claimed losses of over a million dollars annually before shutting the doors on his Truck Series team in 2017. Kyle Busch Motorsports is still operating at a high level, but its high-profile team owner has accepted similar losses in the name of competition and fun.
In addition to the NASCAR purse this season, Lemonis has also offered numerous bonuses throughout the season.
When Ben Rhodes won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, it came with a $25,000 driver bonus and $25,000 team bonus to ThorSport.
The team leading the championship standings after the Kansas Speedway race in May will earn a $50,000 team bonus. The team leading the standings after the race at Knoxville Raceway in July will earn a $75,000 bonus.
Lemonis will pay the car that leads the most laps after the season with a $50,000 driver bonus and a $25,000 team bonus. The champion will receive and EV pickup truck and an electric Lordstown RV.
That’s in addition to a $100,000 fund for incremental bonuses or team needs throughout the season.
Meanwhile, Enfinger is still 14th in the championship standings after missing the second race of the season at the Daytona Road Course. He will be back in the ThorSport No. 98 at Atlanta. Even if Enfinger could secure the funding to complete the rest of the season, he would need a waiver from NASCAR to advance into the playoffs, should he become eligible on points or a race win.
Motorsports has always been a pay to play enterprise and Lemonis is offering a lifeline to those who need a little help reaching the finish line.
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