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Havoline returns as NASCAR sponsor in three-race deal with Ben Rhodes

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Havoline, the oil brand famous for sponsoring drivers like Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and Juan Pablo Montoya, is back in NASCAR this weekend as a team sponsor after an 11-year absence.

It will be a sponsor on Ben Rhodes‘ No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford for the next three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races, at Pocono Raceway, Eldora Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.

Havoline is subsidiary of the Chevron Corporation, an integrated energy and technology company. Other subsidiaries include the Texaco and Caltex brands.

Havoline has not been a primary sponsor for a team since 2008, when it sponsored Montoya at Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup and Xfinity Series.

It first was a major team sponsor in 1987 on the No. 28 car owned by Harry Ranier and driven by Allison. It then moved with Allison to Robert Yates Racing in 1989, where it remained until 2002.

August Cup race at Michigan to be called Consumers Energy 400

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The Aug. 12 Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway will be sponsored by Consumers Energy as part of a multi-year deal, the track announced Thursday.

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents.

The company takes over for Pure Michigan, which sponsored the race from 2011-17.

“We are excited to expand our collaborative relationship with Consumers Energy,” said track president Rick Brenner in a press release. “We strive to work with Michigan-based companies like Consumers Energy who continue to give back to the community. We are looking forward to working together to provide our guests an awesome experience each August for many years to come.”

Consumers Energy will also sponsor the inaugural MIS Charity Dinner on June 9 and the track’s 50 Years of Racing Exhibit in the fan plaza for both of the track’s race weekends.

The MIS Charity Dinner, which benefits the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Foundation Patient Immediate Needs Fund and the MIS Cares Fund, will feature a strolling dinner, dessert and drink stations, live and silent auctions, music, a photo booth and more. The event will also feature a question and answer session with Dale Inman, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood.

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NASCAR America: Kyle Petty on why replacing Lowe’s could be difficult for Jimmie Johnson


NASCAR’s trio of seven-time champions have built vast cache with the companies they represented.

Richard Petty became synonymous with STP. Dale Earnhardt’s connection to the black GM Goodwrench paint scheme was iconic. And Jimmie Johnson has become a fixture as the polished spokesman for Lowe’s the past 17 seasons.

That will change next year as Lowe’s announced Wednesday that the 2018 season will be its last as the primary sponsor of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet. With a Hendrick contract that runs through 2020, Johnson and the team now will be hunting significant sponsorship for the first time since his rookie season in 2002.

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On Wednesday’s NASCAR America (video above), analyst Kyle Petty explained why that might be difficult.

“That’s going to be tough I think,” Petty said. “Richard Petty was an STP driver. I can’t imagine Richard Petty ever being anything but STP. Even though Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove that Wranger car, I remember him as the Goodwrench guy. That’s his brand.

“Jimmie Johnson has tied his brand to Lowe’s. It is Jimmie Johnson, it is Lowe’s, it is Chad Knaus, it is Hendrick Motorsports. If I come in and sponsor the last couple of years of his career, am I just going to be the answer to a trivia question at some time? ‘Who sponsored Jimmie Johnson the last year of his career?’, that type of thing.”

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Johnson, 42, does offer a resume that includes 83 victories (tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth all time) and the record-tying seven titles. And a major selling point could be the history-making possibility of an eighth championship awaiting future sponsors.

But Petty said that success also could work against the search.

“When you’ve had success with a sponsor that they have had, when you’ve had the success of championships and race wins, and you’ve built that brand, it’s tough to rebrand yourself at 40, 41, 42, 43 as a driver,” Petty said. “I think Hendrick, even though (Johnson) is a seven-time champion, even though he can win races, it’s a little bit of a battle. It’s going to take the right company to come in and say, ‘I’ll take this project on.’ ”

NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto grateful for sponsors found via Twitter campaign

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After an eventful Tuesday on social media for Matt DiBenedetto, the GoFas Racing driver met with NASCAR America’s Marty Snider to discuss how effective a call for sponsor help turned out to be.

A video DiBenedetto recorded and posted on Twitter quickly resulted in pledges of $5,000 from fellow Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, as well as Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip. DiBenedetto told Snider another big name in the sport “silently” chipped in as well.

Late Wednesday, GoFas Racing announced the following supporters for the team this weekend: Zynga Poker, Enlisted Nine Fight Company, Pit Stops for Hope, Denny Hamlin (Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown), Kevin Harvick (KHI Management), and Darrell Waltrip (Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship).

“You never know the power of social media, man, it’s impressed me many times and probably never more than this one,” DiBenedetto said. “It was just an on the fly thing, we didn’t have any plan for it.”

The 26-year-old driver made clear that the team and his job were not in jeopardy, but that it’s very hard for a team to be unsponsored for any race.

“Obviously, a little more came out of it than anticipated,” DiBenedetto said. “It turned into an emotional day for me, to be honest.”

The second-year driver for GoFas Racing was awestruck by the support from Hamlin, Harvick and Waltrip.

“Those are people, dude, that I looked up to since I was a kid watching, those are some of my heroes,” DiBenedetto said. “For them to think that much of me and want me to be a big part of this sport, knowing I’m a young guy … I’m not kidding … I rode home in my truck like in silence because I was just floored.”

Watch the above video for more from DiBenedetto and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Valvoline, Hendrick Motorsports extend relationship through 2022

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Long-time NASCAR sponsor Valvoline has extended its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports in a five-year deal and expanded into a primary sponsor role.

The company will be a sponsor on Alex Bowman‘s No. 88 Chevrolet for two races in each year of the deal.

Valvoline will continue as an associate sponsor on all four Hendrick cars.

Valvoline was last a primary sponsor for Hendrick in 2015 when it was on the No. 88 in the Southern 500.

The company was a primary sponsor for Richard Childress Racing the last two seasons. It was on the No. 27 driven by Paul Menard in seven races.

The last time a car with Valvoline as a primary sponsor went to victory lane in the Cup Series was in the 2002 fall race at Rockingham. Johnny Benson won in the No. 10 Pontiac owned by Nelson Bowers.

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