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Wood Brothers playoff run could be worth $1 million to another Cup team

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JOLIET, Illinois — Car owner Archie St. Hilaire is nine weeks away from what could be a $1 million payout after winning the equivalent of the NASCAR lottery.

When Ryan Blaney won at Pocono in June to make the playoffs, it wasn’t just the Wood Brothers who celebrated. Although Matt DiBenedetto finished 32nd for St. Hilaire’s team that day, St. Hilaire says he was “hooting and hollering’’ when Blaney held off Kevin Harvick to win.

A victory for the Wood Brothers also was a victory for St. Hilaire’s team.

Go Fas Racing benefits because it leased its charter to the Wood Brothers before the season — something teams can do once in a five-year period.

The decision to lease the charter before this season was easy for St. Hilaire. Any team that finishes in the bottom three among charter teams for three consecutive years can lose its charter to NASCAR. Last year, Go Fas Racing finished in the bottom three among charter teams.

“I think NASCAR is pretty serious of the bottom three and you’re out,’’ St. Hilaire told NBC Sports at Chicagoland Speedway. “The marketability of one being in the bottom three two years in a row probably decreases. The first year, you’re the negotiator and the second year, they’re the negotiator and you’re trying to bail out to not be in the bottom three.’’

When St. Hilaire partnered with the Wood Brothers, he admits he thought about the extra money he could receive if the Wood Brothers made the playoffs.

Charters fund Cup teams in four different ways. There’s money for entering each event, race purse, points fund and historical performance.

St. Hilaire says his team received less than $100,000 last year from the historical category. He says that total could be close to $1 million based on how well Blaney does in the playoffs. Blaney is 10th after the first of three races in the opening round. The top 12 advance to the second round.

“I’m rooting for them,’’ St. Hilaire said of Blaney and the Wood Brothers.

For a team with about a budget of about $5.5 million, adding $1 million could increase the budget by nearly 20 percent.

“That’s all funds that we’ll use to race in the future and make us a better team,’’ said St. Hilaire, whose team ranks 33rd in the owner standings heading into Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The better Blaney does in the playoffs, the more valuable the charter becomes.

St. Hilaire, though, must decide what to do with the charter when it is returned after this season. He could keep it and take the money. Or he could sell the charter since it is worth more with the increase in the historical category.

There are a few teams that could be candidates for charters. The Wood Brothers won’t have one for next season after returning their charter to Go Fas Racing. Also, Team Penske will expand to a third car for Blaney and could use a charter. Already, JTG Daugherty has purchased a charter for the No. 37 of Chris Buescher for next season after leasing a charter from Roush Fenway Racing this year.

Should St. Hilaire sell his charter, he’ll lease one like he did this season. After leasing his charter to the Wood Brothers, St Hilaire leased a charter from Richard Petty Motorsports.

There could be many other options for St. Hilarie to lease charters next year.

“I just don’t see that being too hard to find,’’ St. Hilaire said. “We’re talking to about four people. They’re available.’’

He also said he would consider acquiring two charters to run a second team provided a driver can bring funding to the team.

Whatever St. Hilaire does with the charter, he knows what he wants to do with the expected extra money.

“We don’t even have an engineering package,’’ St. Hilaire said. “We’re checking old-fashioned tire temps, spring rates. Matt does a great job. (Crew chief Gene Nead) does a great job. That would be our next step, to get engineering help.’’

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Roush Fenway Racing swaps pit crews

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JOLIET, Illinois  Roush Fenway Racing will swap pit crews this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, giving playoff contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a new pit crew.

Stenhouse will get teammate Trevor Bayne‘s pit crew and Bayne will get Stenhouse’s pit crew.

Stenhouse’s pit crew this weekend will be: Front tire changer Ryan Jacobson, front tire carrier Allen Troutman, rear tire changer Chris Shuman, rear tire carrier Justin Edgell, jackman Mike Brown and gas man Josh Pech. Stenhouse is making his first playoff appearance.

Bayne’s pit crew will be: Front tire changer Mike Lingerfelt, front tire carrier Kevin Richardson, rear tire changer Justin Fielder, rear tire carrier Brad Sutton, jackman Shawn Mickelson and gas man Kevin Wing.

Roush Fenway Racing is the second Cup organization to exchange pit crews to help a playoff contender. Joe Gibbs Racing made a similar move earlier this week. Title contender Kyle Busch is swapping pit crews with Daniel Suarez, who is not in the playoffs.

Fifth Third Bank rewews multiyear sponsorship deal with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Roush Fenway Racing will retain Fifth Third Bank’s primary sponsorship of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s No. 17 Ford in a multiyear deal.

Fifth Third Bank has sponsored five races annually with Stenhouse since the 2014 season. It joined the team in 2012.

In a news conference announcing the deal Sunday afternoon at Darlington Raceway before the Southern 500, Tom Heiks, group regional president for Fifth Third Bank, said Stenhouse’s two victories this season weren’t a factor in its decision.

“We enjoy seeing Ricky do well and seeing the team do well,” Heiks said. “We spend a lot of time with these guys and know how hard they work (and) how tenacious they are. These guys deliver success, but but they always are there for us.”

Team president Steve Newmark said Roush Fenway had been able to renew eight or nine companies whose contracts were up in the past two years.

“You try to align with partners that stick with you through ups and down,” Newmark said. “This is validation of that, though you’re always hungry for more. The sport works for a lot of our partners because of the NASCAR fan base.”

Here’s the release from the team: 

CINCINNATI – Fifth Third Bank (NASDAQ: FITB) has renewed its relationship with Roush Fenway Racing as primary sponsor on the No. 17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford with driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in a multiyear deal.

“I’m so appreciative to continue racing with Fifth Third Bank on the car. It’s great to have partners who believe in the sport and are committed long-term to supporting the business of racing,” said Stenhouse.

Fifth Third Bank came onboard with Roush Fenway Racing in 2012 and has served as a primary sponsor on the No. 17 Ford for the past six seasons.

“We’re excited to extend our relationship with Roush Fenway Racing and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.,” said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer for Fifth Third Bank. “To hear Ricky exclaim our tagline, ‘that’s Banking a Fifth Third Better, boys’ when he captured his first victory this season was incredible. We’re banking on another successful run with him behind the wheel.”

Stenhouse captured his first two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins while sporting the Fifth Third colors during the 2017 season. He will make his 173rd career Monster Energy Cup Series start at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on September 3, where the No. 17 Fifth Third Ford will feature a throwback paint scheme inspired by a Darrell Waltrip 1997 paint scheme.

“The Roush team has been an outstanding partner for the past six seasons, and this goes beyond the race track. With their help, we’ve become the preferred bank of the motorsports industry, providing strategic financial advice and services to teams, tracks, drivers, suppliers and corporate sponsors,” remarked Tom Heiks, Group Regional President for Fifth Third Bank.

The Bank is actively involved within the racing industry, serving on the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) board, sponsoring the NCMA Industry Tribute Awards Banquet and exhibiting at the Performance Racing Industry Tradeshow. Fifth Third also supports numerous motorsports charities including the NASCAR Foundation, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, Speedway Children’s Charities, B.R.A.K.E.S. and Motor Racing Outreach.

“It’s a privilege to continue our relationship with Fifth Third Bank,” said Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing. “There are few sponsors in NASCAR who have as deep of an understanding of the industry and whose primary objective is to serve the wellbeing of businesses and individuals in the sport.”

In addition to its partnership with Roush Fenway Racing, Fifth Third Bank is the Official Bank of Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona 500, and a partner with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the IndyCar series.

Throwback Southern 500 paint schemes revealed for Trevor Bayne, Jeffrey Earnhardt

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Although Monster Energy Cup Series teams are not racing this weekend, they’re still busy preparing for the Sept. 3 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Roush Fenway Racing and Circle Sport with The Motorsports Group have each announced throwback schemes, adding to the many that have been announced.

Trevor Bayne‘s No. 6 AdvoCare Ford will mirror the paint scheme run during Roush Fenway Racing’s first two seasons with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin. The scheme, originally featuring Stroh Light, was on the car when Martin won the organization’s first victory in 1989 at North Carolina Motor Speedway.

“It is such an honor to run this paint scheme in Darlington,” said Bayne in a statement. “It’s really special to be driving a car that is honoring the beginning of Roush Fenway Racing. This organization has meant so much to me and my career as a driver and it means a lot to me to be the one who has the privilege of returning this scheme to the track in Darlington.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s No. 33 hulu Chevrolet will feature a throwback look to Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s Busch Series Lowes Food car in 1989.

 

SunnyD extends sponsorship deal with Roush Fenway Racing

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SunnyD has extended its contract with Roush Fenway Racing to sponsor Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s team through the 2019 season, the organization announced Tuesday.

SunnyD will add races as primary sponsor each season, although how many was not announced.

The company has been the primary sponsor of Stenhouse’s car in three races this season – Atlanta, spring Bristol and Indianapolis. SunnyD will next sponsor Stenhouse in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We’ve had a great time partnering with SunnyD the last two years,” Stenhouse in a statement from the team. “It’s one of the coolest paint schemes on the track, and we’ve had a lot of fun promoting their classic brand. I’m excited that we have extended our relationship, and I can’t wait to see how much fun we can have with SunnyD in victory lane.”

“We are very excited to announce that we tore up the old contract and signed a new one that extends for another season and adds additional races with Ricky and Roush Fenway,” said Henk Hartong, Chairman of Harvest Hill Beverage Company, owners of the SunnyD brand, in a statement. “I’m very proud of our relationship with Jack Roush, Steve Newmark and the entire Roush Fenway team. It is something that we wanted to lock in for the foreseeable future. Ricky is one of the rising young stars in NASCAR and we have seen great response to the program from the passionate NASCAR fans.  We are pleased to bolster our association with him and Roush Fenway.”

Stenhouse has two wins this year and will be in next month’s playoffs.

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