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Volume 21 No. 1
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Stewart-Haas adds Quicken Loans as co-primary sponsor

At a time when several NASCAR teams are contracting and marketing dollars are scarce, Stewart-Haas Racing landed a significant new sponsorship, signing Quicken Loans to a multiyear, co-primary deal.

The deal, which industry sources valued at more than $4 million a year, will make the Detroit-based online mortgage lender the primary sponsor for nine races in 2012 on driver Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet. The company will make its NASCAR debut this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway when Newman drives a car with a paint scheme promoting the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, a basketball game between the University of North Carolina and Michigan State that will be played on the USS Carl Vinson on Nov. 11.

Stewart-Haas’ relationship with the U.S. Army, which will sponsor 12 races on the No. 39 car in 2012, played a major role in Quicken’s decision to sign with the team, said Jay Farner, president of Quicken Loans. The company is one of the top five lenders to American veterans and military personnel. It has forged close ties with the Navy in recent years, and that played a role in its title sponsorship of the Carrier Classic.

Farner said the loyalty of NASCAR fans and the synergy between the sport and the company’s new mission statement, “Quicken Loans is engineered to amaze,” compelled the company to sign the sponsorship.

“It’s not a big stretch to get your mind around NASCAR as one of those things that’s engineered to amaze,” Farner said.

“That’s a nice tie-in. We believe if we build loyalty with the fans that when it comes time to buy a home, we’ll be their first choice. That’s what led us down this path.”

Quicken negotiated the deal independently and doesn’t plan to hire a marketing agency to assist with activation. It is already in conversations with Stewart-Haas Racing about marketing plans for 2012, and Farner said he expects the company to feature Newman in TV and radio advertising and develop a social media campaign that features special offers for fans.

Quicken was founded by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. In addition to sponsoring the No. 39 car and the Carrier Classic, it has the naming rights for Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Stewart-Haas Racing still has eight races left to fill on the No. 39 car for 2012. Brett Frood, the team’s executive vice president, said he is in serious conversations with companies and expects to fill that inventory before the end of the year.