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Xfinity among four premier partners for NASCAR Cup Series in 2020

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Xfinity, Busch Beer, Coca-Cola and GEICO will serve as inaugural premier partners for the NASCAR Cup Series in 2020, the sanctioning body announced Thursday morning.

The new sponsorship model, which goes away from one company having its name solely tied to the Cup Series, includes premium assets for each premier partner to engage fans throughout the upcoming season. Premier partners will collectively own a presence connected to the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 race and All-Star Race. All four partners also will be prominently featured in multiple platforms across the sport, including integrations in broadcast, NASCAR digital and social channels, event entitlements, in-market promotions and at-track activations.

The contracts for all four companies were staggered three to five years to avoid them from all expiring at the same time. NASCAR also has stated that it’s goal is to have three to five premier partners. Even with these companies, it does not limit the categories teams can search for sponsors.

“This has been a monumental year for our sport, one highlighted by significant changes in our business model to ensure long-term viability and growth,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR President, in a statement. “As we begin this new chapter, we are joined by four incredible brands with deep-rooted histories across all levels of our sport. We are honored to have this elite group represent our NASCAR Cup Series for years to come.”

Said Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president and chief sales and operations officer, in a statement: “This new model will provide our premier partners with a heightened level of integration and visibility across all aspects of our sport. Each of these partners have demonstrated their commitment to our brand-loyal fan base and we are excited about how these brands will elevate the NASCAR Cup Series.”

Here is how each company’s involvement will be seen in 2020:

Xfinity

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered the sport with a landmark 10-year partner agreement in 2015, positioned as the title sponsor of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the “Official Entertainment Partner of NASCAR.” As a premier partner, Xfinity will maintain its Xfinity Series sponsorship. Xfinity also will sponsor the Championship 4 elimination race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Martinsville Speedway.

“The first five years of our partnership with NASCAR has exceeded our expectations and the season-long national platform has provided increased exposure for the Xfinity brand and allowed us to demonstrate how our products and services enhance the way race fans enjoy this great sport,” said Matt Lederer, vice president of brand partnerships, Comcast, in a statement. “Given the overwhelming fan reaction and how the industry has embraced the Xfinity brand, we’re thrilled to expand upon that commitment by becoming a premier partner of the NASCAR Cup Series, while also continuing to showcase the young stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series.”

Throughout the past five years, Xfinity has elevated the series’ “Where Names Are Made” theme, supported the introduction of an elimination-style playoffs, reenergized the Dash 4 Cash program, reimagined how champions are celebrated at Xfinity Champion’s Day at Universal Orlando Resort and has honored charitable efforts within the industry through its prestigious Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award platform. Xfinity continues to change the way fans access the sport through its Xfinity Stream app, Xfinity X1 video and Xfinity xFi internet.

One of the changes is that the champions in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series each will go to Universal Orlando Resort for Xfinity Champion’s Day in November. Previously, only the Xfinity Series champion went there. And, Xfinity Philadelphia Takeover in May will continue to be an integral part of the Xfinity NASCAR partnership, along with the other programs Xfinity does.

Busch Beer

Busch Beer returned as a NASCAR official partner in 2018. The deal provided the beer brand exclusive sponsorship of the Busch Pole Award, a position it will continue with throughout its premier partnership. Busch Beer also will sponsor a NASCAR Cup Series event in 2020.

 “We are continuing to evolve our presence in NASCAR because we have a significant connection to its fans and believe in the future of the sport,” said Nick Kelly, vice president partnerships, beer category and community, Anheuser-Busch, in a statement. “The premier partner position strengthens our deep-rooted history in the sport and will provide fans with even more opportunities to enjoy a crisp, cold Busch Beer on race day.”

Anheuser-Busch’s history in NASCAR dates back to 1978, when it sponsored the Busch Pole Award. Additionally, Busch Beer was the “Official Beer of NASCAR” from 1988-97. Beginning in 1998, Anheuser-Busch sponsored the Bud Pole Award through its Budweiser brand, which also became the “Official Beer of NASCAR” through 2007.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has been involved with stock car racing for 50 years and became a NASCAR official partner in 1998. As a premier partner, Coca-Cola will continue its sponsorship of both NASCAR Troops to the Track and NASCAR Salutes, the portion of the season focused on highlighting industry-wide appreciation of the U.S. Armed Forces. Coca-Cola will also continue to own race entitlements at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, Coca-Cola becomes the presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship trophy.

“Coca-Cola has a long history of successful collaboration with NASCAR and elevating our position to premier partner provides even more opportunity to connect fans to unforgettable experiences,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing, Coca-Cola North America, in a statement. “Further integrating our two brands affords Coca-Cola the opportunity to build on our winning formula and contribute to the growth of the sport in the years ahead.”

The agreement further enhances Coca-Cola’s position as the “Official Soft Drink of NASCAR.” A signature part of the brand’s marketing strategy is the Coca-Cola Racing Family – an exclusive group of top drivers representing Coca-Cola who are featured across company advertising, promotions and packaging.  

GEICO

GEICO’s involvement in NASCAR spans more than a decade and the company became the “Official Insurance Provider of NASCAR” earlier this year. As one of the most fully integrated brands in the sport, GEICO will enhance its existing assets through its Premier Partnership and become the presenting partner of a season phase.

“Our affiliation with NASCAR has been successful over the past decade and expanding our role to Premier Partner was the next logical step,” said Bill Brower, assistant vice president of marketing for GEICO. “Our expanded presence will allow us to further engage the most brand-loyal fans in sports, bolster our effective marketing platform and play a prominent role in the sport in the years ahead.”

In addition to GEICO’s team partnership with Germain Racing and Ty Dillon, the brand’s involvement in NASCAR includes highly visible assets such as the GEICO Restart Zone, its race entitlement at Talladega Superspeedway and campground sponsorships.

Germain Racing, GEICO extend relationship through 2020

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Germain Racing has extended its relationship with long-time sponsor GEICO through 2020, the team announced Friday.

The insurance provider sponsors the No. 13 Chevrolet driven by Ty Dillon. Dillon is entering his second full-time season driving for Germain Racing in the Cup Series.

GEICO has been a partner of Germain Racing since 2008 when it competed in the Xfinity Series.

“We have been honored to represent GEICO for the last decade,”Germain Racing owner, Bob Germain, Jr, said in a press release. “That is, in and of itself, a huge accomplishment and we appreciate their belief in our organization. We are excited to continue improving our team’s performance, and GEICO’s loyalty and support are the keys to any success we achieve. Carrying the GEICO name and the Gecko on the hood of our race car and on the chest of our uniforms is a source of pride and we are committed to representing them well.”
Ty Dillon will start 23rd in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Silly Season heats up with more driver moves

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Tuesday brought the news that Danica Patrick won’t be back with Stewart-Haas Racing after this season and that Aric Almirola also won’t return to Richard Petty Motorsports for 2018.

Neither driver announced their plans for next season. Other drivers who have not announced 2018 plans include Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch, Brickyard 400 winner Kasey Kahne and former champion Matt Kenseth.

Here’s a look at where Silly Season stands as the Cup playoff are set to begin Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

ANNOUNCED RIDES FOR 2018

Erik Jones will drive the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing Matt Kenseth (announcement made July 11)

Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. (announcement made July 20)

Brad Keselowski agrees to contract extension to drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske (announcement made July 25

Ryan Blaney moves to Team Penske to drive the No. 12 car and signs a multi-year contract extension (announcement made July 26)

Paul Menard moves to Wood Brothers Racing to drive the No. 21 car (announcement made July 26)

William Byron will drive the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Kasey Kahne (announcement made Aug. 9)

Matt DiBenedetto will remain with Go Fas Racing in the team’s No. 32 car (announcement made Aug. 12)

Chris Buescher signs a multi-year contract to remain at JTG Daugherty and drive the No. 37 car. (announcement made Aug. 18)

Ty Dillon signs a multi-year contract to remain at Germain Racing and drive the No. 13 car. Sponsor Geico also extends its deal with the team (announcement made Sept. 5)

OPEN/POSSIBLY OPEN RIDES

— No. 10: Danica Patrick is out after this season at Stewart-Haas Racing. No replacement has been announced. 

— No. 27: Richard Childress Racing states it will announce plans for a third Cup team at a later date with Paul Menard joining the Wood Brothers for next season.

— No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing declined to pick up the option on Kurt Busch’s contract for next year on Aug. 1. Even so, the team tweeted that it expected Busch back with sponsor Monster Energy for next year. Busch told reporters Aug. 5 at Watkins Glen that “there are a couple of offers already, so we’ll see how things work out.’’  

— No. 43: Richard Petty Motorsports announced Sept. 12 that Aric Almirola will not return to the team. Smithfield also is not returning. Smithfield and Richard Petty Motorsports exchanged terse statements about their parting. RPM is selling Darrell Wallace Jr. to prospective sponsors.  

— No. 77: With Erik Jones returning to JGR, team owner Barney Visser is looking to fill that seat. The first concern, though, is sponsorship. Visser told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Aug. 9: “We’ve got no sponsorship right now for the 77,” for next season. “So we’ve got to find something. We don’t want to give up that car, but if we don’t get sponsorship, we’ll have to.” Sponsor 5-Hour Energy has an option to return. The company can’t go to any other Cup team with Monster Energy as series sponsor.

AVAILABLE DRIVERS

Matt Kenseth: Out of the No. 20 after this season. Doesn’t have anything announced for next year at this point. At Bristol, Kenseth was asked about his plans for 2018. He said: “I’ll be honest with you … I’m not worried about (2018) even really one percent anymore to be honest with you. I’m just not concerned about it.’’  

Kurt Busch: With Stewart-Haas Racing declining to pick up his option for next year, Busch is a free agent. Even with Stewart-Haas Racing’s action, there’s still a good chance Busch signs a deal to remain with the organization.

Kasey Kahne: The 2017 Brickyard 400 winner is available after Hendrick Motorsports announced it had released him from the final year of his contract. Rick Hendrick said Aug. 9 that he’s working to help Kahne land a ride for next season and hinted it could be through an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. 

Danica Patrick: She will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing after this season. Patrick has not announced any plans for next season. She’s not looking for a ride in the Xfinity Series. “Cup only,’’ she said.  

Aric Almirola: Won’t return to Richard Petty Motorsports, team announced Sept. 12.

GMS Racing/Spencer Gallagher: GMS Racing confirmed on Aug. 30 that it will not have a full-time Cup entry in 2018. The organization, which fields teams in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, had looked into moving to Cup.

Darrell Wallace Jr.: Richard Petty Motorsports is selling Wallace to prospective sponsors for the No. 43 car for next season. He gained interest from RPM after driving in four races for the team while Aric Almirola was injured. Wallace said Aug. 4 that he’s focused on finding a ride for next year with so few options left for this year.

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Germain Racing signs multi-year extension with Ty Dillon, GEICO

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Germain Racing announced Tuesday it has signed multi-year contract extension with rookie driver Ty Dillon and long-time sponsor GEICO insurance.

The announcement comes with 11 races left in Dillon’s rookie campaign in the No. 13 Chevrolet.

GEICO has been a sponsor of Germain Racing since 2008 in the Xfinity Series. The team and sponsor moved up to the Cup level part-time in 2009 and full-time in 2010 with Max Papis and then Casey Mears. Mears drove for Germain Racing until last season.

The team will continue to be part of a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Dillon, a grandson of Childress, drives part-time for RCR in the Xfinity Series.

“Being able to partner with GEICO all these years has been a source of great pride for our race team and for me personally,” said team owner Bob Germain, Jr. in a press release. “They’re an incredible company and they support our sport in so many different ways. We’re very fortunate to be the team that gets to represent GEICO on the race track. I appreciate their support and I look forward to working with them in the years to come. Ty Dillon has given us some very exciting races in his rookie season. We have extended Ty’s contract, and look forward to crew chief Bootie Barker and Ty leading the team to more success. They will be supported by all of the same great team members who have helped build Germain Racing.”

Through 25 races Dillon is 24th in the point standings. Without any top five or top-10 finishes, Dillon’s best result is 13th twice, in May at Talladega and Sunday in the Southern 500. He has an average finish of 20.5 and has led 40 laps, including 27 at Dover in June.

Dillon is third in the rookie standings behind Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez.

“GEICO is an amazing sponsorship partner and a great supporter of NASCAR as a whole,” Dillon said in a press release. “I love having the chance to represent them and be a part of their widespread footprint in the sport, along with their long-standing relationship with Germain Racing. We’ve experienced success together during my rookie season and I’m excited for what the future holds for our No. 13 GEICO team,”

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Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger involved in 18-car crash with 20 to go in Geico 500

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A large multicar crash occurred with 20 laps left in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

AJ Almmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet, which started the wreck via contact with Chase Elliott, rolled upside down. The crash involved 18 cars.
Allmendinger walked away from the wreck, which forced the race to be red-flagged for 26 minutes and 51 seconds.

The crash began exiting Turn 2 when Allmendinger was drafting with Elliott, whose No. 24 Chevrolet was loose when Allmendinger hit the left-rear bumper.

Elliott turned toward the wall and briefly went airborne.
The accident involved Elliott, Allmendinger, Logano, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, David Ragan, Corey LaJoieBrad KeselowskiGray GauldingMatt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Trevor BayneMichael McDowellAustin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Cole Whitt and Matt DiBenedetto.

Elliott and Jones were eliminated from the race by NASCAR after they continued to drive after the red flag was displayed.

“Just battling for the lead, (Kyle Busch) and (Elliott) were kind of leading the two packs,” Allmendinger told Fox. “(Harvick) was just on me. Once I got to Chase, I got loose. I barely tapped him, and I tried to get off him, but it was too late.”

Chase Elliott: “I don’t know that it was really his fault, per se. I think he had a big run, and he kind of got to my bumper and happened to be in a bad spot, kind of coming up off the corner. Was a skewed a little bit to my left rear. When that happens, it just unloads the cars.”

Austin Dillon: “I just saw somebody come across the field there, and started checking up. I got kind of pushed back into it. It’s just Talladega. It’s part of it. We’re three-wide trying to get as much position as we can.”

Joey Logano: “I don’t really know what happened, but I saw (Elliott) tank slapping down the backstretch. I was hoping he was going to go to the left and go toward the inside, but he came up top.”

Danica Patrick: “NASCAR is always making more and more efforts to make the cars safe, so I’m fine. Definitely wasn’t as big as last years’, that was really, really bad. It’s kind of a bummer to be part of an accident and not even be at the core of the accident. I thought somebody clipped me from behind, but it looks like I came down in front of somebody else. I couldn’t see anything, but my spotter just kept saying ‘go low, go low.’ It’s hard to trust them sometimes, but they can see more than I can right now. I was gradually coming low and obviously, he didn’t see me.”