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Longtime sponsor OneMain will leave Elliott Sadler, NASCAR after 2016 season

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Only 16 races into his first year with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, Elliott Sadler felt as if his No. 1 Chevrolet team already was meeting every expectation.

“If you had a list of boxes you had to check for a season, especially for your sponsor, we feel like we have checked every box,” said Sadler, who is ranked second in points with 13 top 10s and a playoff-securing victory at Talladega Superspeedway. “It’s been a great season. We’ve won. We’ve been a part of the championship chase. We’re running good enough to be on TV and in contention to make something good happen every week. So from a competitive standpoint, it’s been awesome.”

From a business standpoint, though, the news wasn’t so good. The night before the July 1 race at Daytona International Speedway, Sadler received a call that longtime primary sponsor OneMain wouldn’t return for 2017.

For the Emporia, Virginia, driver, whose cars have carried the company’s colors for more than five years, the news came as a shocking blow – particularly given his results this season and JRM’s reputation as an Xfinity Series mainstay known for its innovative approach to digital platforms, such as its podcasting network.

OneMain was sold last year by Citigroup to Springleaf Holdings, and it isn’t unusual for companies to abandon NASCAR sponsorships after management changes. Dollar General, which named a new CEO last year, announced earlier this season it would be leaving the Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup ride of Matt Kenseth because of a shift in marketing priorities.

OneMain didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

“I think they want to go in a different direction than what racing is,” Sadler said. “They didn’t share a lot with me other than that part of it.”

His team’s focus now shifts toward trying to win the inaugural Xfinity Series’ inaugural Chase for the Championship, which will begin in late September with Sadler firmly in the 12-driver field for the seven-race playoff.

Sadler, who has been friends with JRM co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. for over two decades, dating back to their days of racing Late Models together, hopes a championship would shore up his prospects for staying put. The 41-year-old, who made his first Xfinity start in 1995, believes this season has shown he is competitive enough to keep racing.

“The future is 100 percent uncertain with all this happening, but if I could get a blank sheet of paper and write down a wish list, it’d be to still race with JR Motorsports moving forward,” Sadler said. “It’s a great company, and off the track, they offer stuff no other team has with social media and digital consumption. Dale and I have been friends since we were teenagers, and that has made the season so special.

“We kind of looked each other in the eyes last year and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to win races with each other?’ We’ve done that. That’s what made the phone call so hard to take, but I’ve got to look at the flip side of it. There’s so many positives going on with this year, it was definitely sad to get that phone call, but man, we’ve got unfinished business. We’ve got to do a lot of little things to get where we need to win the championship. But we’re close where we need to be.”

In a statement, JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller said the team wants to maintain three Chevys again next season. JRM also fields the No. 7 for Justin Allgaier and a No. 88 that is split between several drivers.

“Obviously we were disappointed to hear that OneMain will end its longtime NASCAR presence but understand their reasons and respect their decision,” she said. “We’ve enjoyed their partnership – they’ve been nothing but class – and will continue to work hard to win a championship with our No. 1 team and Elliott Sadler.

“As for JR Motorsports, our goal for 2017 is to continue to run three full-time teams in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Hopefully we can do that. This is a business, and sponsorship drives the business.  We’re already working hard to secure the funding we need to race three teams. I like what JR Motorsports has to offer. We’re as competitive as we’ve ever been, and we deliver value far beyond the track.”

That also has been a plus for Sadler, an affable driver whose knack as a corporate spokesman attuned to keeping sponsors satisfied has helped him race full-time in Xfinity since 2011 after a 1999-2010 stint in Sprint Cup.

CitiFinancial initially backed an Xfinity car for Sadler at Robert Yates Racing in 2005, beginning a relationship that grew into his current sponsorship deal. OneMain has followed Sadler to five teams in the past six seasons. He held the sponsorship with Kevin Harvick Inc. in 2011, Richard Childress Racing in 2012, Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013-14 and Roush Fenway Racing last season.

“It’s the way of the world sometimes,” Sadler said about the sponsor’s departure. “I’ve got so many calls and text messages from friends I’ve made over the years with OneMain that it’s pretty special to hear from everybody. But it was definitely hard when I was told of the news.”

With Xfinity drivers increasingly needing to have sponsor ties in order to land rides, Sadler said there is urgency to post results that will attract new business partners.

“The business model has definitely changed in our sport,” he said. “The drivers with the sponsors have a better chance of getting a full-time ride. We understand that. That’s what makes it so key to me these last 17 races. We have to run good and try to win races and end everything as good as we possibly can end it. We’ve got to go with a full head of steam here to November.

“We want to win that championship. The news coming out to me kind of put it in perspective. We’ve got to show up ready to race each week to keep our name in the middle of it, so we’re going to do it.”

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter