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

17 Comments

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.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.