NASCAR: Nationwide Insurance expanding support for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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This morning, Nationwide Insurance has announced that it has expanded its pact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports, and will become the 88 team’s majority sponsor from 2015-2017.

NWI will now serve as primary sponsor for Earnhardt in 21 Sprint Cup races during each of the next three seasons.

Back in May, NWI was announced to be in that role for 12 races in 2015, and then 13 races in both the 2016 and 2017 campaigns.

“We’re thrilled to be deepening our partnership with the Hendrick Motorsports team,” said NWI’s chief marketing officer, Matt Jauchius, in an HMS release. “We look forward to seeing Nationwide on the No. 88 for NASCAR’s biggest races over the next three seasons.”

NWI is getting an early start on its backing of NASCAR’s most popular driver this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, where Earnhardt is previewing his blue and white NWI paint scheme for 2015.

“That Nationwide has already elected to grow the sponsorship sends a clear message about the opportunities they see and how well our teams are working together,” HMS owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement.

“It’s quickly become a strong relationship, and we’re committed to building on that foundation and delivering results in every facet of the program.”

Earnhardt himself called NWI’s decision “extremely gratifying” and added that “having this kind of support and seeing so many positive things happening around the team feels really good.”

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool