SBJ/20080714/This Week's News

Title search: 2 series in the hunt

The races for title sponsorships on two motorsports properties, NASCAR’s truck series and the IndyCar Series, are heating up.

Kobalt Tools, a Lowe’s brand, has emerged as the leading candidate to sponsor the truck series, industry sources say. Craftsman has been the title sponsor since the series was launched in 1995, but the Sears brand will not renew after its deal with NASCAR runs out this year.

NASCAR is believed to be selling the truck title rights in the mid-to-high seven-figure range annually, with an advertising commitment on Speed, the broadcast home of the series, at close to seven figures. Stanley Tools and NAPA also have been involved in discussions with NASCAR.

Kobalt Tools, a Lowe’s brand, has emerged
as the leading candidate to replace Craftsman
as sponsor of NASCAR’s truck series.

Kobalt Tools’ presence in NASCAR has previously been tied to Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson, whose primary sponsor is Lowe’s. If NASCAR and Kobalt Tools eventually reach an agreement, the deal could have many tentacles.

In addition to the title sponsorship, the deal likely would include status for Kobalt as the official tool of NASCAR, replacing Craftsman. Lowe’s, represented by GMR Marketing, also could be moving into the official home improvement store category that currently is occupied by Home Depot, whose deal with NASCAR runs out this year.

Ron DeFeo, spokesman for Home Depot, said the retailer has not made any decisions on its future in NASCAR. Home Depot could be without Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart after this season; Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing announced last week that they would split after the 2008 season.

Stewart is buying into Haas CNC Racing as a driver/owner, with Office Depot as a primary sponsor for his new ride. Old Spice is a leading contender to be the other sponsor in a co-primary model.

Brian Corcoran, NASCAR’s managing director of corporate marketing, is point person for the truck title rights.

Sources say the IRL has been talking with
Subway and Kodak about a title deal.

Meanwhile, the Indy Racing League, which has been without a title sponsor on its headline IndyCar Series since 2002, has been in discussions with at least two prospective sponsors, Kodak and Subway, industry sources say, and a third candidate has emerged in the last month.

The IndyCar title is thought to go for the mid-to-high seven figures annually.

Kodak serves as an associate sponsor at Penske Racing for both its NASCAR and IndyCar teams. Its motorsports sponsorships, including an official status deal with NASCAR, expire at the end of this season and the company has said it is working with Octagon to evaluate its future course.

Subway, whose motorsports ties are with Stewart on the NASCAR side, had its marketing officials at the Indianapolis 500 and talks have progressed from there. Just Marketing International, which represents the IRL, also counts Subway as a client. Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division, and Greg Gruning, vice president of sales, have been spearheading the IRL’s sales efforts along with Just Marketing.

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