Qualifying For NASCAR's Chase Brings Numerous Sponsorship, Bonus Opportunities
NASCAR by "retroactively adding" Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon to its 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup "gave both drivers a shot at winning the championship, gave their teams the valuable news media exposure boost that comes with qualifying for the Chase -- and a potential swing of several million dollars in incentives and bonus money," according to Chris Jenkins of USA TODAY. Team Owner Rick Hendrick said, "You don't want a sponsor to feel like they got robbed, and NASCAR's in a tough spot." Making the Chase for some teams is "thought to trigger seven-figure bonuses from sponsors -- and give some drivers a chance to reach performance bonuses in their contracts with teams." It is a "sign of how important making the Chase has become to team sponsors." On the "other end of the spectrum is Michael Waltrip Racing." Driver Martin Truex' primary sponsor NAPA is "reviewing its relationship with the team," while Clint Bowyer's primary sponsor 5-Hour Energy on Twitter wrote that it was "addressing its situation internally." The "potential loss of one, or even two, major sponsors would be a significant blow to a team that recently committed to give" driver Brian Vickers a full-time ride in the No. 55 Toyota next season. NASCAR officials "didn't announce their decision to include Gordon in the Chase until Friday, depriving Gordon and the No. 24 team of a week's worth of news media exposure and Chase-related merchandise sales" (USA TODAY, 9/16).