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Volume 25 No. 196
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Sources: NASCAR Zeroes In On Three Brands As Potential Title Sponsors For Cup Series

NASCAR said that it is talking to "roughly a dozen candidates" to replace Sprint as its Cup Series title sponsor, but the governing body has "zeroed in on around three leading candidates and has swapped term sheets with at least one of them," according to sources cited by Adam Stern in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that companies "still in the hunt" include grocery chain Kroger, Yum! Brands, Coca-Cola, South Korea-based Samsung and China-based electronics brand Hisense. There has "been concern in some corners of the industry about how the search is not yet complete, but NASCAR’s top sales executive sounded confident a deal will get done." NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O'Connell said, "We’re in a really good place; we’re exactly where we thought we’d be time-wise." Sources said that NASCAR is "likely to end up with at least a four-year deal" in the $25-35M range in annual rights fees. Sprint’s original 10-year deal with NASCAR reportedly was worth $75M in "annual rights and activation fees combined" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/1 issue). 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: NASCAR Exec VP & CMO Steve Phelps on Friday said that an October announcement of a deal is the "most likely scenario." Phelps: "It will be a fourth quarter announcement." ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass noted Phelps "stressed not to confuse NASCAR not having a concrete feel of an announcement date with the search not going as planned." Phelps: "The brands are a mixture of those that are not in the sport right now and some that are in the sport. It's a good list and we're trying to determine what is the best for the sport overall." Pockrass noted NASCAR "doesn't expect a 10-year deal this time around." Phelps: "It probably will be a shorter deal. It is something that bodes from our standpoint and as well a brand standpoint. ... It will depend on the brand and it will depend on what we believe will be right for the sport" (ESPN.com, 7/29).