The Home Depot’s time as a primary sponsor in NASCAR are numbered according to a report from the Sports Business Journal.
The SBJ’s Tripp Mickle relays word from sources that the home improvement chain will leave the sport entirely when its contract with Joe Gibbs Racing runs out at the end of this season.
Home Depot currently serves as a main co-sponsor with Dollar General on the No. 20 JGR Toyota of former Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth.
Dollar General, however, has become the bigger backer of the two and is running as the No. 20’s primary sponsor for the bulk of the races this season. In those events, Home Depot’s branding and orange color has usually been relegated to the car’s rear bumper.
Home Depot has been part of the JGR portfolio since 1999, when it signed on to back Tony Stewart when he drove the No. 20 car. Stewart took Home Depot to two of his three Sprint Cup championships (2002, 2005) before leaving JGR following the 2008 season.
The company then ran with Joey Logano from 2009-2012, followed by Kenseth starting in 2013.
However, Dollar General announced last December it would increase its primary sponsorship of Kenseth’s No. 20 to a total of 27 races in 2014, up from 17 in 2013; Home Depot had been slated to run 21 races in that role prior to this particular decision.
Now, with the SBJ report comes obvious questions. It would appear that Dollar General now has an opening to turn its involvement with the No. 20 into a season-long sponsorship – but will they choose to do so?
Then there’s the matter of how this will impact JGR’s possible plans for expanding to a four-car operation for 2015. Sonoma winner Carl Edwards has been linked to joining the team in that scenario, but he has stayed quiet on that subject.
Team president J.D. Gibbs said this past weekend that a final decision on JGR’s expansion won’t come until at least September. He also confirmed that M&M’s would remain on the team’s No. 18 car for Kyle Busch next year.
Notes from the last week or so in the busy, wild world of sports car racing:
- Flying Lizard Motorsports benefitted from late-race issues that hit the Ryno Racing Team, where the right rear stub axle broke on its Ginetta G57 LMP3. The Lizard’s No. 45 Audi R8 LMS of Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Mike Hedlund and Dion von Moltke delivered a flawless drive en route to the win, the car’s second straight. More here from Sportscar365.
- Rebellion Racing confirmed a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup entry. Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Sebastien Buemi will be an all-star lineup in the team’s Oreca 07 at the 51st running of the 24 Hours of Daytona, January 26-29, and at the Roar, January 6-9.
- Grasser Racing Team will run a two-car Lamborghini Huracán GT3 effort at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Rolf Ineichen (Switzerland), Christian Engelhart (Germany), Mirko Bortolotti (Italy) and Ezequil Companc (Argentina) will be in one car, with Ineichen and Engelhart the first two drivers listed for the second car.
- Former Fall-Line Motorsports team manager Michael Harvey has been named Director of Race Operations for VISIT FLORIDA Racing, which is a great get for the Troy Flis-owned team. Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens are the team’s full-season drivers for the No. 90 Riley-Gibson car.
- IMSA has confirmed a couple things on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – which is linked here.
- Mercedes-AMG will build a GT4. More here from Sportscar365.
- Two Porsche announcements in PWC. Patrick Long will be back with Wright Motorsports in its No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Jon Fogarty will be back in a Porsche, following a surprise switch by the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing from McLaren this year.
In this video produced by the Road Racing Drivers Club SAFEisFAST initiative, we take a look behind the scenes at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ unsung heroes: the Holmatro Safety Team.
You’ve heard about their heroic efforts over the years, particularly with saving James Hinchcliffe’s life last year in Indianapolis.
But how do they do what they do? This video explains it.
The partnership between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin will continue into 2017, Red Bull confirmed on Tuesday.
Branding on the Red Bull Formula 1 chassis will continue, while bigger news has come in terms of the AM-RB 001 hypercar.
Red Bull and Aston Martin announced that all 150 road-going cars of the 175 cars built (the other 25 are track-only specials) have been sold and customer deliveries will begin in early 2019.
An AM-RB 001 prototype is expected to run for the first time by the end of this season.
“We first conceived our Innovation Partnership with Aston Martin in the realization that it could be truly pioneering,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team principal.
“In blending our distinct but unique skills under a shared creative vision, we have already seen tangible development to both of our brands and businesses. The extraordinary success of the AM RB-001 is testament to the expert and collaborative spirit in which it was forged, and extending our relationship with Aston Martin through 2017 was a simple and pleasing decision.”
Aston Martin President and CEO Andy Palmer added, “By bringing together the talents of Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin, AM-RB 001 is destined to become the defining hypercar of this decade and a hugely desirable investment for collectors and enthusiasts.
“Our relationship with Red Bull Racing has done for Aston Martin exactly what we expected it to do,” he continued. “It is helping us to continue to build our brand across the globe. Partnerships like this are good for business both in terms of technical innovation and brand awareness, so we are pleased to continue into 2017.”
The FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue has shifted dates, moving from its originally scheduled March 24-25 date to April 1-2 still at Autodromo di Nazionale, Monza.
The reasoning is that His Holiness Pope Francis will be making an official visit to Monza on those dates. Naturally, organizational, security and logistical preferences will follow for that.
The European Le Mans Series continues as planned on March 28 and 29 with its preseason test.
For fans of clashes, two more have been created on account of this date shift. The FIA Formula E Championship race at Mexico and Blancpain GT Series season opener at Misano fall on the same weekend as the Prologue.
The full revised calendar (for the moment, and for the last time, we hope) is below.