The tides of change reached the shores of motorsports this week as Anheuser-Busch announced that Budweiser will no longer serve as the official beer of the Anheuser-Busch series and that its thirty years of support for Kenny Bernstein Racing’s NHRA team has been put on the blocks. According to Anheuser-Busch this ends a historic association that over-takes STP’s 28 year sponsorship of NASCAR’s Richard “The King” Petty as the longest run between a racer and a sponsor.
Anheuser-Busch hasn’t announced who they’re going to throw their sponsorship behind for 2009. They may go with Kasey Kahne, who they sponsored in 2008, after the departure of Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Hendricks Motorsports at the end of 2007. But they estimate they only received around 12 million in benefits due to this arrangement, less than fifty percent of the exposure value they received using Dale Earnhardt Jr., so they might be looking around for someone they figure is a little more high-profile to help them return a little more value for their dollar.
Kasey Kahne is probably crossing his fingers and planning on Budweiser continuing their relationship, it’s hard to find sponsors in the current economic climate and I’m sure the last thing we wants to do is find a new sponsor for 2009. Budweiser on the other hand, is probably wishing Richard or Dale were still available, instead of being otherwise occupied.
The racing world is mourning the death today of two-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion, Scott Kalitta, after a fatal accident during the Lucas Oil NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in New Jersey claimed his life on Saturday afternoon. At the tender age of just 46, Scott leaves behind his wife, Kathy, and his two sons, Corey and Colin.
Kalitta’s car caught on fire after making the pass, and then his engine exploded as he neared the finish line. The car then blasted through the shutdown area at high speeds and then car eventually burst into shreds. The incident is the second fatality in the NHRA Funny Cars in just two years, the first coming when Eric Medlen died during testing in 2007. Our condolences to the Kalitta family.
Kevin Harvick has already – at the ripe young age of 33 – established himself not only as one of NASCAR’s most competitive drivers, but also as a successful car owner in both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series with his company, Kevin Harvick, Inc. Now, it appears that he and wife, DeLana, are pursuing yet another business venture in the NHRA Drag-Racing Series.
It’s been reported that the Harvick’s have reached out to NHRA veteran driver, Bob Vandergriff Jr, to team up and form Harvick-Vandergriff Motorsports, with a driver and sponsors still unannounced for a 2009 debut.
Both drivers view this as a wonderful opportunity to lure in sponsors in a cross-promotional sense between the NHRA and all three of NASCAR’s top series’, allowing them to get the best of both worlds through the same program. Although nothing was officially announced regarding Richard Childress Racing, it sounds as though RCR may be interested in a certain degree of involvement in this venture as well.
“It’s my belief that NHRA could provide a great marketplace for us to grow our business by providing unmatched opportunities for interested sponsors,” Harvick said. “We view this as something that would be a natural extension of our current Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series programs. Bob’s a proven leader and innovator, and DeLana and I are happy to be here as his guests. The future looks very exciting.”
2/6 – Old Spice has renewed their sponsorship deal with Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Read More.
2/6 – NASCAR has announced that racing legend Junior Johnson will drive the pace car at this year’s Daytona 500. Read More.
2/6 – NASCAR has also announced that the 24 Daytona 500 champions that are still alive will all Grand Marshall this year’s race. Read More.
2/6 – Freightliner Trucks will be the primary sponsor on the DEI no. 8 Chevy this year in the Nationwide Series. Read More.
2/7 – The 73-year-old James Hylton had previously announced that he would enter his name for the Daytona 500 to run alongside Carl Long for E&M Motorsports, but those plans fell through and Hylton is not on the Daytona entry list. Read More.
2/7 – NASCAR President Mike Helton has stated that NASCAR does not plan on placing an age restriction requirement for the Sprint Cup Series anytime soon, and should any rule pertaining to such come into effect in the future, plenty of advance notice will be given. Read More.
2/7 – A recent media poll released on Thursday has Jeff Gordon slated to win his fifth Cup Championship this season with the final points standings closely resembling that of last year. Read More.
2/7 – TRG Motorsports has signed Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners as the primary sponsor for the no. 7 truck of Andy Lally at Daytona on Friday. Read More.
2/7 – It’s been reported that NASCAR could possibly be interested in purchasing the NHRA Series following 2008. Read More.
2/7 – Yates Racing has finally signed the first primary sponsor for either of their Sprint Cup teams this season. Freecreditreport.com will sponsor the no. 38 Ford of David Gilliland through the first 7 races of the season. Read More.
2/8 – Kurt Busch has drawn the pole position for this year’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona on Saturday. Read More.
2/8 – Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon will sponsor the no. 70 Chevy Impala of Jeremy Mayfield this year at the Daytona 500. Read More.
2/8 – Elliott Sadler has launched his new driver website at www.elliottsadler.com. Read More.
2/8 – The Miller Lite Brewing Co. has wagered $25,000 in Las Vegas that the no. 2 Miller Lite car driven by Kurt Busch will finish ahead of the no. 9 Budweiser car of Kasey Kahne in the points standings this year with the proceeds to be donated to the Kurt Busch Foundation. The current line at the Palms’ has Busch favored to finish 8 spots ahead of Kahne by season’s end. Read More.
2/8 – Coke Zero has taken the new role of Title Sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series’ July race at Daytona. The race has historically been known as the “Pepsi 400”, but PepsiCo. has decided to focus their NASCAR sponsorship funds to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Read More.
I was flipping around the channels in a panic trying to find the race yesterday when I stumbled on the race on TNT. I thought their overall coverage was average at best with Kyle Petty being the highlight, and Marc Fein being the lowlight IMHO. Fein knows basketball, but he struggled as the anchor for the race and at times seemed to be completely lost as to what was going on.
And kudos to Kyle Petty for predicting exactly what the 24-team was going to do. I think Petty will bring some insight to their broadcast team, and he also has the respect of the current drivers, as well as those that he grew up around as a kid. His interview with David Pearson was pretty good, I have to admit, and I’m not a real fan of NASCAR’s constant zeal to hang on to its past.
Let me digress for a moment. I’m a long-time of NHRA (professional drag racing for the uninitiated), and if there’ s one thing the NHRA could learn from NASCAR, it’s how to market and promote those that came before today’s current crop of drivers. Don Garlits is probably the most famous drag racer NHRA has ever had, but you’d never know it because Garlits and Wally Parks (the NHRA comish for a long time) had a falling out years ago and never resolved their differences. Instead, Garlits travels around and makes appearances at these “nostalgia” drag racers where he makes a few bucks. Very sad indeed.