NASCAR Notes: Taking Care Of Business
By Dave Grayson
IT’S MILLER TIME AGAIN.
Penske Racing announced multi-year extensions of its partnerships with driver Brad Keselowski and long-time sponsor MillerCoors, two key elements of the organization’ s 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. “The extensions of our agreements with both Brad Keselowski and MillerCoors puts our team in a real position of strength moving forward,” said Roger Penske. “This is an important day as these agreements will allow Penske Racing to invest significantly in our people and our technology, two critical areas to a successful race team.”
This new agreement extends a partnership between Penske Racing and MillerCoors that spans more than 30 years, one of the longest and strongest sponsor-team relationships in all of sports. The trio of Penske, Keselowski and MillerCoors will be together through the 2017 season.
MEANWHILE IN MIKEY LAND.
Michael Waltrip Racing,(MWR), is still in the midst of rebounding from the penalties levied against them by NASCAR following the September 7th race at the Richmond International Raceway. Determining that actions by MWR influenced the finish of the race and the line up for the 2013 Chase For The Sprint Cup, NASCAR fined the organization a hefty $300,000. Officials also docked MWR’s three teams 50 driver’s and 50 owner’s points each. Ty Norris, MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager and spotter for the #55 team, was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR. Additionally, all three of the MWR crew chiefs were place on probation until December 31st. The loss of the 50 driver’s points levied against Martin Truex Jr and the #56 team eliminated them from making the Chase line up. The next big blow came when NAPA Auto Parts, a MWR sponsor from the very beginning, announced they would not be returning as the primary sponsor for the #56 team.
The loss of NAPA is a huge financial blow, estimated to be worth $15 million. It’s going to be extremely difficult to replace a full time sponsor this late in the year. The future of the team, as well as Truex’s future is now a rather large question mark. MWR reportedly informed Truex that they would not stand in his way if he found another Sprint Cup opportunity despite the fact there are still two years remaining on his driver’s contract.
During a September 20th press conference, Michael Waltrip said that RK Motors, a classic muscle car operation owned by Rob Kauffman, could be providing sponsorship for Truex and the #56 team in 2014. Kauffman is considerably more than a business man in the classic car business. He is, in fact, the principal financial investor, and co-owner, in MWR since its inception dating back to 2007.
A resident of London-England, Kauffman recently arrived in Charlotte-North Carolina after learning of the problems stemming from the Richmond race. He plans to remain there until the current MWR crisis is completely resolved. During the course of a recent interview with the “Motor Racing Network”, he referred to the prospect of his RK Motors sponsoring the #56 team on a full time basis as being “a relatively low probability.” Kauffman also said “I’m generally not a quitter, I’m not a miracle worker, but I am going to do my level best to power through this.”
At a time when MWR truly needed some good news, it came from Five Hour Energy drink, the primary sponsor for Clint Bowyer’s #15 MWR team, who said they had decided to remain with Waltrip and company. In a September 27th official statement, the company said “ While our original plan was to announce the status of our sponsorship at the end of the year, this time frame left many concerned about their future. There are scores of passionate fans, numerous charitable organizations, and hundreds of hard-working MWR employees and their families who are directly impacted by 5-hour ENERGY s NASCAR sponsorship. After several internal discussions and meetings with MWR, we are prepared to announce our decision ahead of schedule. 5-hour ENERGY will be back as a sponsor of MWR and Clint Bowyer for 2014. We look forward to another great year of competitive racing. Go 15!”
A (QUICKEN) LOAN FOR RYAN NEWMAN.
2013 Chase contending driver Ryan Newman is completing his tenure as the driver of Stewart-Haas Racing’s #39 Chevrolet while, at the same time, is also busy with plans to join his new 2014 team at Richard Childress Racing. Newman was very pleased to recently learn that one of his SHR primary sponsors will be joining him at RCR next year.
That was the subject of a September 25th press release which stated: “Detroit-based Quicken Loans
, the nation’s largest online home lender and country’s third largest mortgage originator, announced it will join Richard Childress Racing (RCR) for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and serve as the primary sponsor of Ryan Newman’s #31 Chevrolet SS for 12 races and associate sponsor for all remaining races.”
“The move continues a strong partnership between Quicken Loans and Newman, whom they first sponsored in 2012. “Ryan has shown that he is not only an incredible race car driver, but also someone with great integrity and class,” said Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken Loans. “The way Ryan has handled some very tough situations this year, while also continuing to ignore the noise and perform at a high-level, made our decision to stick with him a no-brainer. He embodies what we stand for each and every day.”
AN EXPANSION IN THE FAMILY.
Leavine Family Racing (LFR) announced that it has expanded its role within NASCAR competition. The third-year, Concord, N.C.-based organization with headquarters in Tyler, Texas will field a single-car NASCAR Nationwide Series team out of its Concord shop in addition to its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program. The team will continue to further its relationship with Ford Racing and enter the #95 Ford Mustang in the Nationwide Series. Leavine Family Racing is finalizing its driver for the 2014 season, and currently will enter two of the 2013 season’s Nationwide Series final four races, beginning at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 11. Reed Sorenson will drive the #95 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Michael McDowell will be behind the wheel at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 2.
CASEY MEARS TO RECEIVE A NEW BOWTIE.
#13-Germain Racing is changing manufacturers once again. Ending a two-year relationship with Ford, team owner Bob Germain informed Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates Engines, that his company will be moving to General Motors for 2014. “We value Germain Racing as a customer, and we hate to see them leave, ” Yates said. ” We wish them well.” Germain is expected to form an engine and technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing similar to the relationship Furniture Row Racing.
APPARENTLY SOMEONE WAS WATCHING THAT EXTREMELY POLITE DOVER RACE.
ESPN’ s live telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 29, earned a 2.4 U.S. household rating, averaging 3,968,864 viewers, according to Nielsen Media. The ratings and viewership were up nine and 11%, respectively, over last year s race, which earned a 2.2 U.S. household rating and averaged 3,581,380 viewers.
ESPN s live telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Dover on Saturday, Sept. 28, earned a 1.1 U.S. household rating, averaging 1,640,763 viewers. The rating and viewership were up 22 and 33 percent, respectively, from last year s race, which earned a 0.9 rating and averaged 1,229,916 viewers.
Saying they’re “going in a different direction,” ESPN announced that veteran motorsports television announcer Marty Reid is no longer with the network. Reid joined ESPN in 1982. His resume includes calling races during live television coverage of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and truck series as well as the Indy Car and NHRA series. Alan Bestwick will call the action for the remainder of the network’s Nationwide Series races this season.