Questions, answers about Monster Energy’s partnership with NASCAR

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NASCAR announced Thursday that Monster Energy will become the entitlement sponsor of the sport’s premier series but many questions remain.

Here’s a look at what was said at Thursday’s press conference in Las Vegas and the questions that remain.

HOW LONG WILL MONSTER ENERGY BE THE SERIES SPONSOR?

No such details were given. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said that it was a multi-year agreement “with some options. We never get into the specifics of contracts.’’

WHAT WILL THE SERIES BE CALLED?

That detail was also not revealed. France said: “We are working on the exact composite logo … and we’ll be back shortly on that. It won’t be long. We’ve got some real good options on that.’’

WHAT ELSE IS INVOLVED IN THIS AGREEMENT?

Monster Energy will be the sponsor of the All-Star Race in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway and be the official energy drink of NASCAR.

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT MONSTER ENERGY’S SPONSORSHIP OF Kurt Busch’S CAR?

It won’t. Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy, said: “Kurt, you are still going to drive.’’

WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT STARTING IN 2017?

Expect to have fun. The word fun was used 10 times in the 25-minute press conference, including nine times by France.

“They’re a fun brand that’s going to interact with our core fans in kind of a cool, neat way actually, and we’ve seen some of the plans, and they’ll get bigger and more robust as we go along,’’ France said.

“But we’re very confident that this is the right partner for us, and we’re looking forward to having some fun with it.  By the way, we’re in the fun business. We’re racing cars. We’re crowning champions. This is where people come to have fun, right?’’

WHY IS MONSTER ENERGY THE RIGHT FIT FOR THE SPORT?

“Motorsports is their DNA,’’ France said of Monster Energy. “When you walk through their lobby in California, you see that. You see the motorcycles and NASCAR memorabilia and all kinds of things, and that’s who they are, so they understand motorsports. They understand NASCAR. They understand how to reach across and excite our core audience and help us deliver on a new audience, and that was very exciting for us.’’

SO HOW WILL NASCAR HELP GROW ITS FAN BASE?

It will go after young fans.

“They get at a millennial audience in a different way clearly than we’ve ever been associated with, particularly at this level, and they know what they’re doing,’’ France said. 

OK, BUT WHAT ABOUT NASCAR’S OLDER FANS? HOW WILL MONSTER REACH THEM?

Through young fans.

“Young people set trends in fashion, and then older people adapt, and I don’t want to say old,’’ said Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy. “Fashion is set by a small group of influencers. The challenge is to make your product relevant to that group and then have them influence the others. If we’ve been successful in the past, we’ve followed that model.

“I think we have a lot of drinkers in the current NASCAR fan base. I think we can make the sport more interesting to some younger consumers, as well.’’

MISS SPRINT CUP IS GONE. WILL SHE BE REPLACED?

Yes. Monster Energy’s girls were at the announcement and will be visible moving forward.

“We also want to bring some good shows and entertainment for NASCAR fans, so they can interact with our brand and understand what our culture is all about, so when they leave the racetrack on Sunday they’ve had an experience,’’ said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing for Monster Energy. “Of course they will have met the fabulous Monster Energy girls.  We’re going to have a lot of fun at NASCAR, both in the parking lot and inside the oval.’’

HOW DOES THIS NEW AGREEMENT DIFFER FROM OTHERS WITH REPORTS IT WOULD BE FOR A SHORTER TIME PERIOD AND LESS MONEY? WILL THERE BE ADJUSTMENTS THE SPORT WILL HAVE TO MAKE?

“No, it’s a different kind of agreement for sure in that it’s got activation in different ways and media in different ways,’’ France said. “But we’re quite pleased with the agreement, and no, there will be no changes at all. As a matter of fact, I think you’re going to see some additional activation, additional things that will occur, so this is a more, not less, in that regard.’’

SO HOW WILL MONSTER ENERGY MARKET NASCAR?

“We do market in a non‑traditional way, we do count on our athletes and our endorsers and to a certain extent our fans to do our marketing,’’ Hall said. “One component that our primary competitor utilizes that we haven’t is media. They routinely buy traditional television and traditional media, and we never have.  We have never created a commercial or an ad. 

“We’ve done different things that we’ve been successful getting a lot of eyeballs on, but I think looking at this opportunity and this close partnership to where our names are linked so synonymously, we’re thinking that this for us is a way to do traditional media, the reach of the connection and the partnership is going to be unique for us because our names will be closely associated, and every time you say NASCAR, we hope we’re going to say Monster Energy.’’

Xfinity crew chief Chris Gabehart penalized $5,000 for loose lug nut at Indy

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NASCAR has issued one penalty resulting from last weekend’s races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Chris Gabehart, crew chief for the No. 20 Xfinity Series car of Joe Gibbs Racing, was fined $5,000 on Wednesday.

Gabehart was penalized for violating Sections 10.4 and 10.9 of the NASCAR Rule Book covering Tires and Wheels: Lug nut(s) not properly installed at the conclusion of the Lilly Diabetes 250.

There were no other penalties related to last weekend’s Xfinity or NASCAR Cup races in Indianapolis or the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.

Richard Childress Racing to announce plans for a third Cup team ‘at a later date’

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With Paul Menard and his family’s home improvement chain sponsorship on the move to Wood Brothers Racing for 2018, Richard Childress Racing has a major funding gap to address.

Menards has adorned the No. 27 Chevrolet for RCR for seven consecutive Cup seasons and is among the last full-season sponsors in NASCAR’s premier series. It assuredly is the most lucrative of RCR’s sponsorships.

Though the team is committed to fielding Chevys for Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon next season, the impending departure of Menard leaves questions about whether RCR will remain a three-car team in 2018.

In a statement Wednesday morning, team chairman and CEO Richard Childress said the team “will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

Here’s the full statement from Childress:

Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.

Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.

We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.

 

Paul Menard will move to the Wood Brothers for 2018 season

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Paul Menard will join Wood Brothers Racing next season, the team announced Wednesday. He will replace Ryan Blaney, who will move after this season to run a third Cup car for Team Penske.

Menards will sponsor the car in 22 races. Additional sponsorship, including plans for long-time partner Motorcraft/Quick Lane, will be announced later. The technical alliance between Team Penske and the Wood Brothers will continue.

“It’s fantastic to have the ability to continue to race in the highest level of motorsports full-time and something we look forward to doing with Paul for years to come,” said co-owner Eddie Wood in a statement. “I know this will allow us to continue to perform as an organization and will give Paul a great opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Paul is not only a great driver with a lot of experience in the Cup Series, but he’s great with partners, which is a big part of what we do these days. We are looking forward to finishing out this season with Ryan (Blaney), going for more wins and maybe even a championship, and continuing that with Paul in 2018.”

Said Menard: “I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic No. 21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do. I’m looking forward to working with the team, working with Roush Yates, Ford Performance and Team Penske to see what we can do. Ryan (Blaney) has done a fantastic job and is a constant threat to run up front. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and keep the momentum going into 2018 and beyond.”

Also, Menard will run a handful of Xfinity races for Team Penske next year.

Menard had been with Richard Childress Racing since 2011, scoring his lone Cup victory — the 2011 Brickyard 400 — with the organization.

Menard’s best finish in the points with the organization was 14th in 2015. He is 23rd in the points with no wins, two top fives and three top-10 finishes this season.

The move marks the fourth organization the 36-year-old Menard has raced full-time for in his Cup career. He drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc. from 2007-08, Yates Racing from 2009-10 and Childress since.

Car owner Richard Childress issued a statement:

“Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.
“Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.
“We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

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Ryan Blaney to join Team Penske in 2018

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Ryan Blaney will move to Team Penske and drive a third Cup car for that organization, the team announced Wednesday.

Blaney will drive the No. 12 Ford in 2018 and has signed a multi-year contract extension.

“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” said team owner Roger Penske.  “We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

MORE: Paul Menard to take over Wood Brothers ride in 2018

Blaney, who won at Pocono in June, is 12th in the standings. He has seven top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” said Blaney, a third-generation driver from High Point, North Carolina, in a statement. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today without Roger (Penske), Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me. I’m thrilled knowing that Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) are long-term teammates for me at Team Penske and Paul (Menard) will have input with our team now that he’s with the Wood Brothers organization. Hopefully we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

The 23-year-old Blaney first signed with Team Penske in 2012. He has raced for Wood Brothers Racing, which is aligned with Team Penske, since 2015. He ran about half the 2015 season and has done the full season the past two years for the organization.

This marks the first time since 2010 that Team Penske has fielded three full-time entries. It did so that season with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr.

With adding a third car, Team Penske will need to acquire a charter for that car.

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