SBD/February 5, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Paint By Numbers: DuPont Rebranding Means Changes For Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Sponsorship

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Gordon will drive his first race in the rebranded Axalta car on April 13
DuPont's car-paint unit "has been rebranded as Axalta Coating Systems" and will sponsor NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon for 14 Sprint Cup races this season, according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. This will "undoubtedly mean some adjustment for fans used to the DuPont car." Axalta's "first race on the car" will be the April 13 Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The "only other race announced for the car so far" is the Nov. 17 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. DuPont's coating business was sold last year for $4.9B to the Carlyle Group, which "holds a portfolio of business that includes Hertz Rental Car and Dunkin' Donuts" (USATODAY.com, 2/4). YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Bromberg reported the DuPont-Axalta "changeover will be official in the second quarter of the year -- after the company's first scheduled race." Other brands under the now Axalta label "will fill Axalta's races until the change" is complete (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/4). SB NATION's Jordan Bianchi noted Gordon raced with DuPont as his primary sponsor during last season's finale at HMS, "where the two celebrated their 20th anniversary together with a special commemorative paint scheme" (SBNATION.com, 2/4).

INTIMIDATION FACTOR: USA TODAY's Gluck & Ryan note no one has driven the No. 3 car in the Sprint Cup Series since Dale Earnhardt's death in February '01, but Team Owner Richard Childress estimates fan support as roughly "85 (percent) positive" for the return of the No. 3. Childress' grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, last year "won with the number in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series." Childress: "I hadn’t really had any plans of putting the 3 back in Cup, but it’s kind of re-energized a lot of the fans." Gluck & Ryan write there was a "groundswell of support" to retire the number in the wake of Earnhardt’s death on the last lap of the '01 Daytona 500. Instead, NASCAR, which "assigns and controls the car numbers, has allowed Childress to retain the right to field it again." Dale Earnhardt Jr. "has supported the idea" (USATODAY.com, 2/5).
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