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Target withdrawing sponsorship from Chip Ganassi Racing after this season

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Retail giant Target will end its sponsorship of Chip Ganassi Racing in NASCAR after this season.

The Sport Business Journal first reported Target’s departure from the sport.

The announcement comes with 16 races left in the Cup season and with Kyle Larson and his No. 42 Chevrolet second in the points standings.

The move follows Target exit from sponsoring Ganassi in IndyCar after last season. The company is transitioning its support to soccer ventures.

Target provided the following statement on its decision.

“We are enormously proud of how Chip and the entire Ganassi Racing team have represented the Target brand throughout our partnership. Together, we’ve seen tremendous success in NASCAR over the past 16 seasons, both on and off the track.

As we looked to evolve our sports marketing program, soccer provided Target with a unique opportunity to reach our guests in new places, and at all levels of the sport. Through partnerships with Major League Soccer, Minnesota United FC, US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Target has been able to create meaningful connections with players, fans and families, no matter how they participate in the sport. We will continue to build on these and other soccer investments in 2018 and beyond.

Over the past season, Target has worked closely with Chip Ganassi Racing on this transition. We have incredible respect for Chip and the talented team he has assembled, and are confident they will continue to see great success for years to come.”

Ganassi’s partnership with Target began in 1989. Target has sponsored Ganassi cars in the NASCAR Cup Series since a once-race deal in 2001. Its first race was with Sterling Marlin on Aug. 25, 2001 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Target became a full-time primary sponsor beginning in 2002 with Jimmy Spencer.

The team issued the following statement from Ganassi:

“I have had an unbelievable relationship with Target for 28 years and I have to thank them for their long-time support. It has been so much more than a team-sponsor relationship. They have their finger prints on so much of what Chip Ganassi Racing has become. I have had numerous mentors and developed great friendships over the years at Target and fully expect many of those to continue but this news simply closes one chapter of our race team and also begins a new one. Kyle Larson is a once in a generation talent, he and the No. 42 Chevrolet will still be on the track for a long time, the only difference is that they will have different colors.”

Target eased into its departure this season by reducing the number of races it was the primary sponsor of Larson’s car. Credit One Bank took over races and has sponsored Larson in five races this year and Jamie McMurray in one.

NASCAR provided the following statistics on corporate sponsorship in the sport.

  • The number of Fortune 500 companies partnering with NASCAR has increased again in 2017, according to a recent analysis.
  • In 2017, more than one in four (28 percent) Fortune 500 companies continue to invest in NASCAR (139) – a seven percent increase year-over-year.
  • Nearly half of Fortune 100 companies invest in NASCAR – an increase of 11 percent year-over-year.
  • The number of Fortune 500 companies investing in NASCAR has either grown or sustained year-over-year since 2012.
  • The number of Fortune 500 companies investing in NASCAR has increased 29 percent since 2008.
  • Also, Fifth Third Bank is seeing a four-to-one return on their investment from their motorsports program, exceeding their original three-to-one ROI goal since the program was implemented in 2012.

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NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace on qualifying: ‘It’s our job to cheat the system’

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Much of the talk in NASCAR this week has been around the controversial final round of Cup qualifying at Auto Club Speedway, which saw no drivers make a qualifying run after they left pit road too late to make a lap.

Bubba Wallace didn’t advance to the final round, but he’s been in a similar situation. In 2014 at Michigan, Wallace was in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at ACS’ sister track. Qualifying for that event ended with only one truck, driven by Ryan Blaney, reaching the start-finish line in time to make a lap.

“It’s our job to cheat the system,” Wallace said on NASCAR America presents Motormouths. “In today’s world, with the package and how it works out, if you’re the front car, you’re the tow. You’re the tow truck. You’re towing everybody else behind you. You’re at a disadvantage. No one wants to be at a disadvantage.

“So we’re going to cheat the system until they do something about it. Then we’re going to find a new way to cheat the new system.”

Watch the above video to see Wallace discuss more about how he fared during the West Coast Swing.

Updated entry lists for Cup, Truck at Martinsville

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Here are the entry lists for this weekend’s races.

Cup – STP 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-six cars are entered for the sixth Cup race of the year. D.J. Kennington is listed in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports entry.

Jeb Burton is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 Ford.

Click here for the entry list.

Gander Outdoors Truck – Martinsville 250 (2 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered. Those also entered in the Cup race are Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain. Bubba Wallace is entered in AM Racing’s No. 22 truck.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America Motormouths at 5 p.m. ET with Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America presents Motormouths airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Kyle Petty and they’ll be joined by special guest Bubba Wallace.

Fans will have the chance to call into the show to ask questions.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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