Gillett Evernham scales back Nationwide program

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STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Gillett Evernham Motorsports will layoff about 65 employees in several departments as part of scaling back its Nationwide Series program next season.

The No. 9 Dodge will run a partial schedule in the second-tier NASCAR series in 2009. The team will continue to field at least three Sprint Cup Series teams - for Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson - and is in talks with Petty Enterprises to merge with that organization and house its famed No. 43.

"We are a Sprint Cup team first and foremost, and winning in that series needs to be our primary focus," CEO Tom Reddin said in a statement Wednesday. "The Nationwide Series is a fantastic series ... (but) we will remained focused on putting all of our effort behind the Cup program in 2009."

GEM lost sponsor Unilever to JR Motorsports at the end of the season and doesn't have enough sponsorship in place to run the full Nationwide schedule.

Some of the layoffs came from the engine department, which is being reorganized to align with the number of customers who lease motors from GEM.

The engine department supplied Petty Enterprises and Robby Gordon Motorsports last season, but Gordon is moving to Toyota in 2009.