SBD/January 24, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Crazy 88s: Dale Jr. Still Without Primary Sponsor For 13 Sprint Cup Races



Earnhardt rejected the idea his sponsorship availability epitomized the sport's struggles
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. "needs a sponsor for 13 of the 38 Sprint Cup races this year," according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. That includes "two non-points events." PepsiCo reduced its involvement with Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevy in October, "leaving a sponsorship void that has yet to be filled." But Earnhardt "rejected the idea his sponsorship availability was a sign of the sport's continued struggles." Team Owner Rick Hendrick said, "You can take a short-term deal and fill the car up, or you can try to work with someone who is going to be a long-term situation and is going to be there for years to come." Gluck reports the National Guard is "increasing its involvement from 18 to 20 races." But PepsiCo is "only planning five Diet Dew-sponsored races in 2013" (USA TODAY, 1/24). Hendrick said, "I’m looking for the right deal, not any deal. If I wanted any deal, I would put 'Hendrick cars (.com)' on it. … I have no worries about that car having a full deal come the end of the year.” Hendrick said that he has "had companies interested in sponsoring Earnhardt for the entire season but that would conflict with the organization’s current sponsor contracts" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/24). SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass noted Earnhardt "doesn’t believe his shortage of sponsorship should be viewed as a critical setback for the sport and he is not worried about it considering the economic changes in the last four years." Earnhardt said, "Things are on a upswing, we just have a unique, limited amount of races to fill and those packages are not the most exciting propositions for corporate America to come in and do a little eight-race deal or something like that." He added, "You’ve got to find basically just the right guy that is interested in something that size and is willing to fit the price range that you’re looking for as a team. You can’t undersell compared to what you’re working with on the other races" (, 1/23).

SMOKE SIGNALS: Tony Stewart earlier this week noted he still has several sponsorship openings for his three Stewart-Haas Racing Sprint Cup cars, but's Marty Smith noted Stewart's approach to business has "evolved with time from one that concerned corporate partners to one that endears him to them." Stewart's assets include the Cup team that "represents nearly 30 corporate sponsors on the racetrack and in the marketplace, a four-team sprint car conglomerate that competes in the World of Outlaws and USAC, and a destination dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio." Stewart-Haas Racing Exec VP Brett Frood said, "No doubt Tony is a competitor and sometimes wears the emotions on his sleeve, but we have found that our partners support his passion and authenticity." Frood said that Stewart's focus on the grassroots segment "enables him to maintain a connection with both the boardroom suits and the workingman -- a core demographic for partners." Smith noted among Stewart's other business interests are "dirt racetracks in Macon, Ill., and Paducah, Ky.; Tony Stewart's Original, a line of food products that includes barbecue sauce, salsas and beef jerky; Custom Works remote-control cars; and True Speed Communication, a public relations and marketing firm." As team owner and driver, Stewart "must leverage his own brand with every partner who signs on to sponsor the organization." It is "time-consuming and taxing, but necessary." Frood said, "There's no doubt all of our partners here believe in Tony and are here in many ways because of Tony. He does appearances for every one of them. It creates a challenging lifestyle for him" (, 1/22).
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