NASCAR: “Fresh From Florida” group re-ups with Richard Petty Motorsports

Leave a comment

Richard Petty Motorsports will once again have backing from the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Marketing Services’ “Fresh From Florida” campaign in 2015.

The Fresh From Florida colors will serve as primary sponsor on the No. 43 RPM Ford Fusion of Aric Almirola for two races next season: Atlanta Motor Speedway in March and Talladega Superspeedway in May.

Additionally, Fresh From Florida will have associate placement on the No. 43 at six other Sprint Cup tracks (Martinsville, Bristol, Richmond, Charlotte, Kentucky and Darlington) and support Almirola in both NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Daytona International Speedway (February and July).

“We saw great success with the ‘Fresh From Florida’ motorsports campaign last year after developing a complete media, retail, event marketing and motorsports event plan which impacted millions of consumers throughout Florida and the Southeast,” said Mike Hargrave, RPM’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

“This partnership proved fruitful for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by delivering a message regarding the superior quality of Florida products. Through this program, the vast motorsports fan base is better educated when purchasing fresh seafood, produce and other products produced in the state of Florida. We look forward to supporting and executing this program in 2015.”

RPM’s marketing arm will also assist Fresh From Florida with at-track relationships at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway, where it will serve as presenting sponsor for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The “Fresh From Florida” campaign has been partners with RPM since 2013. This past year, it was the primary sponsor for Almirola at Darlington, where he finished 24th.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

Leave a comment

Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994