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Volume 23 No. 8
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Hendrick close to filling sponsorship inventory with Chinese solar company Trina Solar

Hendrick Motorsports is close to finalizing a nine-race primary sponsorship with Trina Solar, a Chinese solar panel manufacturer, for its No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup entry.

The deal will see Trina appear alongside Farmers Insurance on Kasey Kahne’s car at nine races this season.
Financial terms of the agreement weren’t available, but a deal of this size with a premier NASCAR team typically would be worth more than $5 million a year.

Trina Solar executives could not be reached before deadline. Hendrick Motorsports was unavailable for comment.

Trina Solar is new to NASCAR but not motorsports. In 2010, the company signed as an official sponsor of the Lotus Renault Formula One team. It provides solar panels for the Renault paddock and hospitality facilities at races, and has branding on the side of the team’s F1 car. It signed the F1 deal in hopes of raising its brand awareness and increasing adoption of solar energy use worldwide.

Trina is the world’s fifth-largest solar panel maker. The publicly traded company has a market capitalization of $551.7 million and generated just over $2 billion in revenue in 2011. It reported a loss of $37.8 million last year and has lost 69 percent of its market value over the last year.

The Trina-Hendrick agreement is a win for both the team and NASCAR. It fills all of the remaining open inventory at Hendrick Motorsports and allows the team to retain a few paint schemes on the No. 5 car for Hendrick Automotive, the dealership chain also owned by Rick Hendrick. It also puts another green sponsor into NASCAR at a time when the sport is making a concerted push to add partners with businesses devoted to sustainability.

The deal is the first in the solar category for a Sprint Cup team, and NASCAR doesn’t have an official solar partner.

The Charlotte-based agency Sports Marketing Consultants led by Andrew Campagnone worked on the deal.