Facing two hurdles to navigate with Danica Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet – finding a new primary sponsor and extending the driver’s contract – Stewart-Haas Racing is optimistic about completing both concurrently.
“It’s a huge focus of ours on a daily basis,” SHR executive vice president Brett Frood told NBC Sports in a Wednesday interview. “We have a team working on it. From a timing standpoint, we’d like to have something done by the end of the summer in unison with her and a partner and feel confident we’ll be able to get that done.”
GoDaddy announced in April that it would end its longtime sponsorship of Patrick’s cars after the 2015 season (likely remaining in a personal services deal with the driver). Patrick, who is in her third full-time season of Sprint Cup, also is in the final year of her deal at SHR, which she joined in 2012 in moving full time from IndyCar to NASCAR.
Frood said SHR had been “engaged in several conversations” with prospective sponsors.
“We feel very good where we are on that diligence and on that targeting,” he said.
It’s unlikely, though, that either deal would be done independently. NASCAR contracts with drivers and sponsors tend to coincide in terms of at least three years.
“It’s a sport that will always continue to have an intrinsic link between partnership and sustainability,” Frood said. “So I think that association is paramount to all the constituents and vital here. We’re definitlely looking for a strong corporate partner for Danica, but I don’t think that’s different from any other driver in the sport. We need to piece those together at the same time. We’re looking to do it in parallel.”
During a news conference last month, Patrick said her agent and advisers were working with the SHR marketing department to align with a new brand.
“I think we’ve been able to be a little selective” in past sponsor hunts, Patrick said. “I don’t think it’s so easy as to just say a company and go get them and have everything you want. It’s more about becoming part of the process with the marketing and the branding and making it all work and being a little bit selective. But yeah, it’s a tougher environment than it’s ever been, so you also have to be open-minded.”