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.’’

Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell led a race-high 120 laps to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. It’s his second career Xfinity win.

Bell beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Noah Gragson, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Click here for the race results.

Points

Elliott Sadler continues to lead the point standings through eight races. He has a 29-point lead over Bell.

Completing the top five is Tyler Reddick (-31 points), Daniel Hemric (-38) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell fended off teammate Noah Gragson to break through and win his first Xfinity race of the year Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bell led the final 79 laps around the .75-mile track to score his second career win. He had finished in the top five in four of the first seven races this season.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Had to work for it. My teammate was really good and I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for last couple of weeks and it’s really shown.”

Gragson placed second in his first career Xfinity start. He bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty early in the race.

He hounded Bell for much of the last 15 laps, but could never pull even with him.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gragson told FS1 of his first series start at the short track. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I kept it in my memory bank until the end and I told me team, ‘I got something, when it’s time to go tell me when.’ About 18 to go, I told them, ‘Can’t wait any longer, I don’t have any more patience.”

Gragson, who drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, led 10 laps.

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

With his third-place finish, Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Bell, Sadler, Tifft and Cindric will be eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Talladega.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Elliott Sadler, first stage win of season

MORE: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric earned his first career top five after starting from the rear for an unapproved adjustment … Matt Tifft earned his fourth career top five … Ryan Truex placed seventh to give Kaulig Racing its fourth top 10 of the year. It earned five last year … Jeremy Clements placed eighth, earning his first top 10 since he won at Road America in August.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After winning Stage 1, Daniel Hemric lost his right front tire with three laps to go in Stage 2, but made it to the end. He finished 29th, four laps down … Justin Allgaier spun after ramming into the back of Spencer Gallagher with 86 laps to go. Chase Briscoe was also received damage in the incident. Allgaier finished 14th. Briscoe placed 26th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “My wife’s already spent it.” – Elliott Sadler to FS1 after winning the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 28 on Fox.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.