Brazilian energy drink TNT will back Indianapolis 500 champion and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan in a multi-year agreement, the team announced today.
Kanaan has maintained a partnership for several seasons with the drink, which currently serves as one of the top-selling brands of its kind in his home country.
The new pact comes more than one month after Kanaan announced during the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend that he would drive a fourth Ganassi car starting in 2014 with main sponsorship from NTT Data. TNT will be associated with that car, the No. 8 Chevrolet.
“TNT first came on-board with me at the end of 2010 and they were the first ones to tell me I would stay in the IndyCar Series when I had no sponsor and no team to race,” Kanaan said in a statement.
“So, I’m more than excited to have them join Chip Ganassi Racing for this new chapter of my career. I’m looking forward to a strong season with them at Chip Ganassi Racing.”
The energy drink brand is also hopeful that Kanaan’s exploits with Ganassi will lead to growth for its business here in the States.
“I’m excited about the continued relationship with Tony, the opportunity to be associated to such a successful team like Chip Ganassi Racing, and what the future holds for TNT Energy Drink in the IndyCar Series and in the U.S. market,” said Douglas Costa, marketing director for TNT’s parent company, Grupo Petropolis.
Petropolis is Brazil’s largest beverage company and owns the Itaipava beer brand, which has also been associated with Kanaan in recent times.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.