Sprint to end title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Cup Series after 2016 (VIDEO)

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NASCAR must now search for a new title sponsor of its top national series.

Communications giant Sprint, which has backed what’s currently known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2004, has announced that it will not renew its title sponsorship following the end of the current agreement that concludes following the 2016 season.

In the opening of its press release on the subject, Sprint cited “a need to focus more directly on its core business properties.” The company’s vice president of marketing, Steve Gaffney, had this to say:

“We are proud of our association with NASCAR’s top series but have made the decision not to extend our sponsorship beyond the next two years. As we look to the future, Sprint is focused on investing in maintaining a competitive edge and providing consumers with the best value in wireless.

“Sprint has long benefited from the unprecedented level of brand integration available in NASCAR, and the passionate fan base that is the most loyal in sports. Without question, the NASCAR sponsorship property has been a valuable investment for us and will be for our successor.”

“We genuinely appreciate the fans, teams, drivers, tracks and media who have been so supportive and welcoming to us during these many race seasons. We look forward to our remaining time as sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series and eventually assisting with the transition to NASCAR’s next title partner.”

NASCAR has also released its own statement through its senior vice president and chief communications officer, Brett Jewkes:

“NASCAR and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties. We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner. In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint’s partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons.”

The Sprint partnership dates back to 2004, when Nextel Communications signed a 10-year deal to replace the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s Winston cigarettes brand as title sponsor of NASCAR’s top division.

What became the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series turned into the current Sprint Cup Series in 2008 as a result of Nextel and Sprint’s merger. At the end of the original 10-year contract, Sprint chose to extend the agreement for an additional three years through 2016.

But Sprint has undergone recent changes at the top with a new CEO installed this past summer in billionaire entrepreneur Marcelo Claure.

And with the company reportedly having lost money since 2007 and battling to stop customers from going to rivals such as Verizon (title sponsor of the IndyCar Series), AT&T, and T-Mobile, it would appear that supporting the most popular form of racing in the U.S. is no longer as important a priority for them as it once was.

Meanwhile, NASCAR will again look to seek out a major series sponsor after what has been a busy – and successful – year for them on that front.

In May, NASCAR scored a seven-year extension with Camping World for its Truck Series. A few months later in September, Comcast’s XFINITY broadband/TV/phone service signed up for a 10-year deal (2015-2024) to replace Nationwide Insurance as chief backer of what was known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 2008-2014.

Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, whose NBC and NBC Sports Network will begin broadcasting NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events next summer in a concurrent, 10-year agreement.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.