Nationwide expands NASCAR connection with Cup sponsorship for Stenhouse

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Nationwide Insurance has been the main sponsor of NASCAR’s “Triple-A” category, the Nationwide Series, since 2008 and has been involved in the sport for 15 years. But it had never taken the step of actually sponsoring a car in America’s most popular form of racing — until now.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company has inked a two-year agreement with Roush Fenway Racing to be a sponsor for the No. 17 Ford of Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the 2011 and 2012 NNS champion. Nationwide will be Stenhouse’s primary backer at three Cup races this year (Aug. 24 at Bristol, Sept. 7 at Richmond, and Oct. 20 at Talladega) and four more in 2014, and will also serve as an associate backer for the Mississippi native at all other Cup races.

“We built a solid relationship with Roush Fenway and two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and Nationwide Insurance member, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and we’re eager to carry that momentum forward and enhance our existing integrated NASCAR marketing platform,” said Nationwide chief marketing officer Matt Jauchius in a statement.

In addition, Nationwide indicated that it’s currently in talks with NASCAR to continue its sponsorship of the NNS. Their current deal runs through the 2014 season.

“We remain fully committed to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, its teams and drivers, our loyal partners and the rabid fans,” Jauchius continued. “Nationwide Insurance continues to have positive conversations with NASCAR regarding the Series entitlement renewal, which began in mid-March and are on-going. It’s a very detailed process and we expect it will take a while, but NASCAR is a great place to be for active sponsors, like us.”

Stenhouse is currently battling for Rookie of the Year honors in Sprint Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing driver and girlfriend Danica Patrick. Going into tonight’s race at Richmond International Raceway, Patrick holds a two-point edge, 86-84, even though Stenhouse is ahead of Patrick by seven places in the overall championship (Stenhouse in 18th, Patrick in 25th).

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.