NASCAR notes: Penske, Hendrick add automotive sponsors

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Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports have added new sponsors to their file for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Penske first. The organization has brought AutoTrader.com as a season-long associate and primary sponsor at the July 13 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford Fusion. Penske’s automotive organization and in recent years, the NASCAR team, has grown the business relationship.

“We are thrilled to welcome AutoTrader.com to Team Penske and into our NASCAR racing program,” Roger Penske said in a team release.  “AutoTrader.com is one of the most popular online solutions for buying and selling new and used vehicles. Over the last several years we have developed an outstanding partnership with them through Penske Automotive Group, our automotive dealership business. We believe that this racing relationship will help build additional value for the AutoTrader.com brand.”

Meanwhile at Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevy SS will have Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, also on board as a season-long associate and primary for one race. In this case, it will be at Sonoma on June 22. Kelley is an AutoTrader subsidiary.

“Kelley Blue Book’s sponsorship in NASCAR is the next step in communicating our brand strength and recognition as a vehicle valuation pioneer and leader for new-car shopping and research,” Steve Lind, vice president of operations for Kelley Blue Book, said in the Hendrick release. “By supporting successful race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports, coupled with NASCAR’s brand equity, we will reach even more consumers with our message—providing helpful, transparent information on KBB.com to help car shoppers make the best decision possible.”

And here’s the livery:

F1 2017 driver review: Nico Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Renault
Car No.: 27
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 43
Championship Position: 10th

Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.

With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.

Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.

When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.

But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.

Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.

Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.