He may no longer be involved in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains as big a draw as ever for the sport’s sponsors.
Today, pain/headache relief company Goody’s (title sponsor of today’s Eliminator Round opener) announced a three-year sponsorship deal (2015-2017) with Earnhardt that involves being a primary backer for one race annually in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
For 2015, Goody’s will be on Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports XFINITY Series car at Texas Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt’s been a Goody’s spokesman for several years, but this will be the first time he’s ever driven a Goody’s-sponsored car.
“It’s great when you can bring in a partner that starts off as a personal service agreement, they get an understanding of how our company works and get a good experience from that and want to grow that into sponsorship of a race car — it helps us a ton,” Earnhardt said this morning at Martinsville per NASCAR.com.
“Anytime we can get a sponsor grown from a personal service agreement to where they’re on the quarter panel of a car is a success for us. We’re in the business of racing cars and trying to fund a race team, so them becoming a part of that process is really important for us.”
Goody’s has had a longtime presence in NASCAR as seven-time Winston (now Sprint) Cup champion Richard Petty has been a spokesman for the brand since the late 1970s. Earnhardt took up a similar role for Goody’s alongside “The King” in 2013.
The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.
The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.
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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.
He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.
“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”
It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).