NASCAR Returns to at Track Racing
NASCAR Press Release:
NASCAR is scheduled to make its return to racing on Sunday, May 17, at Darlington Raceway with a NASCAR Cup Series race that will serve as the first of seven races over an 11-day span at two different race tracks throughout May, the sanctioning body announced Thursday.
The race at the historic South Carolina track will be held without fans in attendance and is slated to be NASCAR’s first on-track action in more than two months as the sport and world in general have been on pause during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The May 17 race is a 400-miler, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, live on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. It also is the first of three races at the track, including a second Cup Series race held midweek under the lights three days later.
The May schedule also includes the crown jewel Coca-Cola 600 in its traditional Memorial Day Weekend home for the 60th consecutive season, plus midweek races in prime time.
Below are the races announced Thursday:
“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track.”
NASCAR officials have collaborated with public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal officials to create a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of competitors and surrounding communities at the above events. All races will be strictly tailored, in every way, to follow specific guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Event procedures will be significantly modified in accordance with CDC, OSHA and state and local government recommendations — including hosting one-day shows at the above tracks, which are all within driving distance of North Carolina race shops to minimize travel and time spent in a community.
There will be no practice sessions for any event, and qualifying will only be held for the Coca-Cola 600.
Other adjustments include mandating the use of protective equipment, health screenings for all individuals before entering the facility and maintaining social distancing protocols throughout the event.
Of note, the May 17 race — and then the May 20 Cup Series race at Darlington — will not replace the scheduled Southern 500 on Labor Day Weekend, the opener of the NASCAR Playoffs. NASCAR intends to keep its 10-race postseason format and tracks involved unchanged, but the situation remains fluid.
No dates beyond May 27 have been announced, but NASCAR officials have said on multiple occasions that the sanctioning body intends to run a full 36-race NASCAR Cup Series slate in 2020.
Additional schedule updates specific to tracks that have had races postponed, and are not part of this new May schedule, will be revealed at a later date.
NASCAR’s most recent race of the 2020 season saw Joey Logano win his second event of the year at Phoenix Raceway on March 8, the fourth race weekend of the season.
The series was slated to visit Atlanta Motor Speedway the following weekend, but worldwide impact from the novel coronavirus led to NASCAR postponing the Atlanta weekend and the ensuing race weekend, scheduled to be at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In response to public health officials’ advice regarding the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States and abroad, ensuing races scheduled for Texas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Dover International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway later were postponed as well.
Official Press Release:
NASCAR and iRacing announced today the formation of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, an exhibition esports series featuring many of the sports most talented and popular drivers. The simulation-style showcase will include a cross-section of competitors from the NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™ and a group of NASCAR dignitaries.
The multi-week series will kick off Sunday, March 22 at 1:30 p.m. ET on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. The remaining race and broadcast details will be announced at a later date.
“Until we have cars back on track, the entire NASCAR community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day,” said Ben Kennedy, vice president, racing development, NASCAR. “Our long-time partners at iRacing offer an incredible product and we are excited to see how many of our best drivers will stack up in the virtual domain of competitive racing.”
NASCAR postponed events through May 3, prioritizing the health and safety of fans, the industry and race communities. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will provide much-needed racing entertainment for sports fans on the premier motorsports racing simulation platform, often used by NASCAR drivers to prepare for race events.
The exhibition series will feature some of the best NASCAR drivers including:
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• Kyle Busch
• Denny Hamlin
• Clint Bowyer
• Kyle Larson
• Christopher Bell
NASCAR and iRacing have an unprecedented history in the esports space, currently in the 11th season of the longest-running officially sanctioned esports racing series, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series™. The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series features 40 of the best sim racers in the world competing for more than $300,000, one of the richest payouts in esports racing competition. The elite series features NASCAR and professional esports teams, including those established by NASCAR Cup Series drivers William Byron, Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon.
The world leader in the online racing simulation and gaming market, iRacing was founded in 2004 by Dave Kaemmer and John Henry. Kaemmer was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including “Grand Prix Legends” and NASCAR 2003.” Henry is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club, as well as co-owner of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing.
iRacing.com has developed dozens of formal partnerships in the motorsport industry to help create the most authentic racing simulation in the world including with NASCAR, IndyCar, International Speedway Corporation, Speedway Motorsports, IMSA, World of Outlaws, Mazda Motorsports, McLaren Racing, Williams F1, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen, the Skip Barber Racing School and General Motors.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR®) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series and three international series.
The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
For more information visit http://www.NASCAR.com and http://www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to today’s media teleconference here with NASCAR president Steve Phelps. We appreciate you all making the time. We also realize that you have a number of questions for Steve here today. We’re going to try to get through as many questions as we have for this teleconference. We’re planning to set aside 20 minutes, a lot of activity going on here as you might imagine.
With that said, I’ll turn it over to NASCAR’s president Steve Phelps.
STEVE PHELPS: Thanks, guys. Appreciate you joining us today. I’ll just make a quick opening statement as I typically do, then open it up for questions.
I want to thank you for joining us today. We know you have a number of questions, and we appreciate your patience as we work through what is an incredibly fluid process as I’m sure you can appreciate.
Hopefully we can answer a bunch of your questions, but understand there are many more that we simply do not have answers for at this time. We’re navigating this process with the entire industry and look forward to providing further details when they are finalized.
We’re working through both the complexity of our sport and our many industry stakeholders as well as the complexity of this pandemic and its impact on our daily lives.
I would like to express my gratitude to you the media, our teams, our drivers, the racetracks and everyone in the industry for their incredible patience and cooperation over the past week.
These clearly are unprecedented times with information changing by the hour. Collectively our industry has made several difficult decisions, all with one thought in mind: the health and safety of our fans, our competitors, employees and everyone in the industry.
The situation we are facing transcends the world of sports. What is most important now is we take precautions to keep everyone as safe as possible during these challenging times.
With that, I’m happy to answer questions.
Q. When you look at trying to figure out the remaining 2020 schedule, are you looking at midweek races, doubleheaders, racing during the Olympic break? What are the options?
STEVE PHELPS: Most importantly we intend to race all our 36 points races as well as the All‑Star event. What those look like at this particular point we’re looking broadly about what our options are.
At this particular point we would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the Playoff portion intact. With that said, it will require a lot of different opportunities for us to look at. We’re in the process of doing that.
No specifics around midweek races. I’ve heard about doubleheaders, different things. At this particular point a lot of things on the table for us to look at, working with our race teams, working with our racetracks to make sure the things that we’re putting on the table are feasible for us to do.
Q. About the teams, certainly there’s some questions with the sport being shut down for a couple months about finances. Is there a way, for lack of a better term, a subsidy for teams in any of the national series, in essence like a parent giving a child an advance on allowance to help teams move along? Has anything been discussed about helping teams financially through the next couple months?
STEVE PHELPS: I think what I would say there, no specifics around subsidies or anything of that nature. We are working with our teams closely to have them industry wide make sure we are all financially viable moving forward during this postponement of our races.
Q. How do you envision going about the process of deciding the start back of the season? Is it possible that you could start back with events that do not have fans or do you anticipate waiting to start back when you can start back on a regular race weekend?
STEVE PHELPS: That’s a good question. I think the way we view this is kind of how we view Atlanta, which is we need to make sure that we are keeping our competitors and those that are at the racetracks, our race teams, our officials, we need to have the health of those folks paramount for us.
Would we consider racing without fans at some point the to get back racing more quickly without fans? That’s in the consideration set. I don’t know. It’s changing so rapidly, what it means for mass gatherings, what’s that number.
Again, we’ll work with our health officials. We’re working with a number of infectious disease professionals that are going to help us through what that looks like and whether it makes sense for us to race without fans or have our first race be back with fans.
Q. Earlier today there was a bulletin about the banning of testing except for the Next Gen related car issues. At this time do you anticipate there could be any postponement to the next generation debut of next season or is it too early to tell?
STEVE PHELPS: I think it’s just too early to tell. We are working diligently to try to stay on schedule. There continues to be barriers that are put in front of us. We will have to adapt to those as they come.
Q. A lot of times when we talk to the fans, people will throw ideas out, kind of come up with things that may not be physically possible or might not understand what you have to do in order to get okays to do things. How much of what is mandated or required by the networks, what are the obstacles generically to try to put this schedule back together?
STEVE PHELPS: That’s a good question.
We are working with our media partners, with FOX, with NBC. If you kind of consider what is going to happen, we’re in this period right now where the major sports are shut down from participating. At some point soon we hope to all get back to finding that escape that our fans are all looking for, in our case getting back to racing.
We are working with FOX and with NBC to understand what windows might be available. That will come as we develop this schedule. It is complex, for sure. But both partners have shown great willingness to try to work with us, obviously we with the other sports to find windows to get back to racing in our case.
Q. The fact that lots of sports will come all of a sudden, every sport will be back at it, does that make it really tough? With the two‑week period off for the Olympics, will that be open to you? Would the network require that you not do that?
STEVE PHELPS: I would say, again, nothing has been decided at this particular point with respect to those two weeks. Will it be a crowded landscape, television landscape, with a lot of different sports on? Yes, it’s going to be.
I think, again, we’ll work with our television partners to find the appropriate windows so we can get back racing and make sure our fans get the opportunity to see that racing.
Q. Could you give us some insight into how much NASCAR looked at the landscape of what other sports were doing in terms of postponements and cancellations? If so, how much did what those specific entities’ did play into your decisions with the announcement of no fans and the postponement of the season?
STEVE PHELPS: We have a lens to what other folks are doing. But we needed to look through our own lens of what was going to make the most sense for our fans, then ultimately for our competitors, the folks that work on the race teams, our own employees, our own officials.
Do we have an understanding that these things were happening with other sports? Of course. But we need to look at it as it relates to our specific facilities. The first example being Atlanta, then Homestead‑Miami. That’s what we looked at.
We tried to run it without fans, then made a determination that, you know what, it’s probably not in the best interest to do that, which is why we postponed those two events.
Q. Can you prioritize what you are looking for when trying to reschedule races? Midweek races might be more of a hassle for teams, that versus doubleheaders, if fans are in a venue that has two race, they may prefer to go to the track twice separate times rather than two races over the same weekend?
STEVE PHELPS: I wouldn’t say ‘prioritizing’ as much as we have to look at it based on so many different variables, so many different factors that will come into play.
I wouldn’t say it’s a prioritization. It’s understanding what is available to us. It’s understanding the races that we’ve had to postpone and what is the best way to get them fit back into a schedule.
We’ll take a holistic view of what it is, not specifically how are we going to prioritize one versus another.
Q. How much are you working on potentially having to postpone more races and/or how confident are your experts telling you you should be able to be back racing by early May?
STEVE PHELPS: I think for us, we’re concentrating on getting back to racing at Martinsville. We’ll have to do scenario planning that will look different than that. Right now our priority is to get back to racing at Martinsville.
Q. On subsidies for the team, Roger Penske assured IndyCar team owners they’re going to get their first payment of their Leader Circles money. NASCAR teams are worried about making payroll, they don’t know if sponsors are going to ask for money back, what kind of force majeure is going to come into play. Is NASCAR concerned that teams are going to go out of business during this time?
STEVE PHELPS: No specifics around the financials about what will happen with our race teams and how we’re going to work with our race teams at this time.
Are we concerned about teams broadly and their financial health? Of course we are. We want to make sure that each of our teams gets through this, each of our stakeholders in the industry gets through this crisis as well as we all can.
Lots of things on the table. No specifics at this point that we are prepared to discuss. Financially we need to make sure that our financials are handled with obviously the stakeholders separately, make sure that we are all aligned with what that’s going to look like.
As of right now, nothing to share.
Q. You have all these elements in play. One of those of course is the sponsors. Obviously some sponsorship went out the window with the individual race sponsorships. What message are you talking to sponsors about? Some of those sponsorships may have been geared for a certain time period that’s not going to happen now. Is that going to be on an individual basis? Is there a broad mandate towards those sponsors?
STEVE PHELPS: I think from a sponsor standpoint, each of the sponsors is different, what their needs, wants and desires are, what it says contractually.
No real broad overview or a way to think about where things are with sponsors broadly. We’ll handle those on an individual basis.
The racetracks that are not our racetracks, they’ll do the same thing. The race teams and their sponsors will do the same thing. Nothing specific at this particular point.
We’re looking broadly. When we talk about stakeholders, sponsors are a huge portion of who those stakeholders are. We need to make sure we’re adapting smartly with what we’re doing with our sponsor partners and the industry broadly.
Q. Take us through the decision‑making process last Friday at Atlanta. It seemed like there was some mixed messaging coming out. First we heard there was going to be condensed racing, then that changed. Did it change that quickly? Was there one thing or something that made it change from we’re going to race this weekend condensed schedule without fans to we’re not going to race at all for the next two races?
STEVE PHELPS: Obviously it was a very fluid situation. I will say this: the industry, the teams, the track, in this case Atlanta Motor Speedway, was everyone working together to try to come to what was going to be the right decision for us and our fans, then us and the safety of our crew and personnel. It was fluid.
It did change. We were prepared first run on Sunday, then we were going to pull it to Saturday. It was decided quickly that we would make a change and postpone both the Atlanta race as well as the Homestead‑Miami race.
Q. What is the primary motivation and objective behind wanting to make sure that you’re postponing the races and running them later rather than canceling them in some scenarios?
STEVE PHELPS: Probably depends on who you ask about this. For us, we have a commitment to our fans that we’re going to run all the races. We have a commitment to all our competitors that we run all the races. We have a commitment to the stakeholders broadly that we’re going to run all the races.
We are going to do everything in our power to get these races in. If there are other variables that happen that would suggest we can’t do that, we’ll look at those at that time.
Q. Four of the seven tracks that you have postponed, they also have races in the Playoffs. Is it your wish that the 10‑race Playoff system not be tinkered with, that you would not want to run a doubleheader for any of those four tracks that have races both outside and inside the Playoffs?
STEVE PHELPS: I would say the answer to that is yes, we are interested in getting these postponed races done prior to our Playoff starting, so not running doubleheaders in those races that have been postponed during the Playoffs. That is the goal that we’re working towards right now.
Again, if there are other variables that change in the future, we’ll adapt to those as well.
Q. NASCAR already has so much going on for next year between rolling out a new car and revamping the ’21 schedule. Now you have this to deal with for 2020. Are you punting right now on everything for next year? I presume the timing couldn’t be worse. With everything you already had on your plate for next year, how much more challenging does it make it?
STEVE PHELPS: Trying to be as honest as possible. This is not easy, right? It’s not easy on anyone who works in this industry. It’s hard. We’re not the only ones this is hard on, right?
You have people who are contracting this illness. You have people who are sadly dying from this virus. We’re trying to keep it all in perspective with what it is that we do.
To your point, we are still pushing forward right now with the Next Gen car. We are still pushing forward with changes to our schedule. We’re trying to do it as smartly as we can.
The variables keep changing, right? The hurdles keep being put in front of this industry, and this industry keeps jumping over them, then there’s another, it jumps over that, then another and another.
It’s not an easy situation for sure, but it’s one that this industry is managing together. Really proud of how this industry has come together to try to support each other and to try to get through this as best we can.
Again, it’s a difficult situation.
Q. How much is NASCAR intending to rely on iRacing and pivoting to other means of entertainment for the NASCAR fans during the postponement? Where are you intending to direct fans to and how much are you going to rely on iRacing?
STEVE PHELPS: I think in general we are interested in trying to satisfy our fans with different content, whether that’s through Esports, iRacing. Tonight, for example, we have a NASCAR Coca‑Cola iRacing Series event at 9 p.m. on ENASCAR.com. Thank you for that plug.
But there are other things, too. There are discussions we’re having with FOX about what things we can do, discussions we would have with NBC, things that we can put through our own channels that satisfy our fans.
Our fans are obviously thirsty for this content. We want to provide it to them smartly and have interesting content as opposed to just repurposing some of the content that’s already been done.
More to come on that. We want to make sure we’re servicing the fans as best we can.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody, for making the time to jump on this. I realize there were a number of you that had additional questions. It was important that we made Steve available to answer at least some of your questions. As you probably would imagine we have a lot going on here. We’re doing contingency planning. Anything with follow‑up, bring it to my attention and we’ll see what we can do. Thank you.
STEVE PHELPS: Thanks for your time, everyone.
NASCAR Press Release:
– Ahead of the iconic DAYTONA 500, NASCAR and Verizon announced today a multi-year partnership to modernize 12 NASCAR-owned race tracks and bring race fans, drivers and teams improved connectivity to enhance the at-track experience. The partnership designates Verizon as the Official Wireless Telecommunications and 5G Mobility Partner of NASCAR, as well as the Official At-Track Wi-Fi Partner of 12 NASCAR-owned race tracks. As part of this agreement, Verizon will work with NASCAR to upgrade its in-venue wireless communications service, starting with delivering improved Wi-Fi service in 12 racetracks, over the next three years.
“There’s nothing like the thrill and excitement of attending a NASCAR race and now there are more ways than ever to capture and share that experience,” said Craig Neeb, executive vice president and chief innovation officer, NASCAR. “Partnering with Verizon will offer fans the benefits of reliable in-venue connectivity as we usher in a new era for our sport.”
“The thousands of fans attending NASCAR events across the country need reliable connectivity to share and send photos and videos of races in real-time, stay up-to-date on their favorite drivers, and connect with fellow fans inside and outside the track,” said George Fischer, Senior Vice President, 5G Ecosystems and Alliances for Verizon Business Group. “As the official wireless provider for NASCAR, we are looking forward to enhancing the fan experience today and working together to revolutionize the future of the racing experience for drivers and fans.”
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Unlike the NASCAR Cup Series, there aren’t any Charters which lock teams in each and every week. In the NXS it’s all about the Owner Standings, if you’re too slow in qualifying. The top-four in owner points (top five if there isn’t a past champion to utilize the past champion provisional), that don’t lock into the top-31 in qualifying are locked into the starting grid.
This is why it was important for a team like Jimmy Means Racing to trade up to the No. 98 Owner Points.
These moves also essentially confirm that Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing will run only one team each (No. 98 and No. 21) in 2020, and neither will be the team that made it into the Championship 4 this past season.
It also means that JD Motorsports will now run a No. 6 car and that they have transferred their points around so their No. 15 car will be the highest ranked in Owner Points.
Several other teams (such as RSS Racing) have shuffled Owner standings around in an apparent effort to secure a place in the starting field with their second team car, while their primary car, and seemingly stronger car, will possibly have to qualify on speed each weekend.
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Again, this is an indication that Young’s Motorsports will not run the No. 12 truck in 2020. It also appears, based on the Owner Point shuffling, that DGR Crosley will not run the No. 54 or No. 17 this season.
Some interesting moves have been made on the back end for the NXS and NGROTS teams for the 2020 season. It’ll be interesting to watch it all unfold as the entry list is beginning to take more and more shape with Daytona in the near future.
Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR and Busch Beer announces BUSCH will return as the title sponsor of The Clash At Daytona.
Daytona International Speedway Press Release:
Busch Beer will return as the title sponsor for The Clash At DAYTONA on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.
Daytona International Speedway and Anheuser-Busch announced today that for the first time since 1997, Busch Beer will return as the title sponsor for The Clash At DAYTONA on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. The exhibition race will return to its original iconic name – Busch Clash At DAYTONA.
Anheuser-Busch’s history in NASCAR dates back to 1978, when it sponsored the Busch Pole Award, and the Busch Clash At DAYTONA debuted the following year in 1979. Following the 1997 Busch Clash, Anheuser-Busch continued sponsorship of the exhibition event with its Budweiser brand through 2011. But after a couple of name changes, the legendary race name is now back on this fan-favorite event.
“Busch Beer will forever be linked to the history of The Clash and we are thrilled to welcome them back as we collectively drive excitement for the start of the 2020 season,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “Our brand-loyal fans have been awaiting Busch’s return to The Clash for years and we expect this will rekindle memories and help set the stage for the next generation of NASCAR fans.”
The Busch Clash (3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will return in 2020 as a 75-lap/187.5-mile exhibition event featuring 20 drivers. The exclusive field is limited to 2019 Busch Pole Award winners; past Busch Clash champions who competed full-time in 2019; former DAYTONA 500 champions who competed full-time in 2019; former DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2019 and 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers.
“Becoming a NASCAR Cup Series Premier Partner afforded us the opportunity to evolve our presence in the sport, and authentically connect our deep-rooted history in NASCAR to its future,” said Nick Kelly, vice president partnerships, beer category and community, Anheuser-Busch. “We’re looking forward to enjoying the Busch Clash with all the fans who’ve waited, and asked, for the return of the original race name.”
The return of the Busch Clash At DAYTONA highlights Busch Beer’s position as a NASCAR Cup Series Premier Partner, announced earlier this month. As a Premier Partner, Busch Beer, will continue to activate across the sport through its exclusive sponsorship of the Busch Pole Award and will be featured prominently in multiple platforms across the sport, including integrations in broadcast, NASCAR digital and social channels, in-market promotions and at-track activations. Busch Beer is joined as a NASCAR Cup Series Premier Partner by Coca-Cola, GEICO and Xfinity.
Tickets for the 2020 DAYTONA 500 and all Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
Daytona International Speedway is the home of "The Great American Race" – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports - the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe, thus earning it the title of "World Center of Racing." In addition to nine major weekends of racing activity, rarely a week goes by that the Speedway grounds are not used for events that include civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.
NASCAR has announced premier partners/sponsors that will be apart of the new NASCAR Cup Series sponsorship model for 2020. With this new #NASCAR title sponsorship model, Daryl Wolfe says there will be no restrictions on teams having support from other brands in these categories. Unlike when Nextel / Sprint sponsored the Cup Series.
Busch, Coca-Cola, Geico and Xfinity will serve as "cornerstone" partners for the Cup Series, NASCAR announces, effectively replacing what used to be one entitlement sponsor for NASCAR's premier series.
Coke will sponsor the regular season championship trophy, GEICO will sponsor a phase of the season, Xfinity will sponsor the Martinsville elimination race and Busch will sponsor a race TBD.
NASCAR Press Release:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2019) –In a historic shift for the sport, beginning in 2020 NASCAR’s premier series will be known as the NASCAR Cup Series and will feature four cornerstone brands as Premier Partners; Busch Beer, Coca-Cola®, GEICO and Xfinity.In addition to the establishment of the Premier Partner positions, this significant shift will provide many strategic benefits to the industry, including greater activation opportunities for brands across the sport. NASCAR’s inaugural grouping of Premier Partners will play a key role in consumer marketing and fan development initiatives moving forward.
“This has been a monumental year for our sport, one highlighted by significant changes in our business model to ensure long-term viability and growth,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR President. “As we begin this new chapter, we are joined by four incredible brands with deep-rooted histories across all levels of our sport. We are honored to have this elite group represent our NASCAR Cup Series for years to come.”
The new model includes premium assets for each Premier Partner to engage the most brand-loyal fans in sports throughout the entire season. Premier Partners will collectively own a presence connected to the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race and NASCAR All-Star Race. Additionally, all four partners will be prominently featured in multiple platforms across the sport, including integrations in broadcast, NASCAR digital and social channels, event entitlements, in-market promotions and at-track activations.
“This new model will provide our Premier Partners with a heightened level of integration and visibility across all aspects of our sport,” said Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president and chief sales and operations officer. “Each of these partners have demonstrated their commitment to our brand-loyal fan base and we are excited about how these brands will elevate the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Busch Beer returned as a NASCAR Official Partner in 2018. The deal provided the beer brand exclusive sponsorship of the Busch Pole Award, a position it will continue to maintain throughout its Premier Partnership. Additionally, Busch Beer will sponsor a NASCAR Cup Series event in 2020.
“We are continuing to evolve our presence in NASCAR because we have a significant connection to its fans and believe in the future of the sport,” said Nick Kelly, vice president partnerships, beer category and community, Anheuser-Busch. “The Premier Partner position strengthens our deep-rooted history in the sport and will provide fans with even more opportunities to enjoy a crisp, cold Busch Beer on race day.”
crisp, cold Busch Beer on race day.”
Anheuser-Busch’s history in NASCAR dates back decades to 1978, when it sponsored the Busch Pole Award. Additionally, Busch Beer was the “Official Beer of NASCAR” from 1988 through 1997. Beginning in 1998, Anheuser-Busch sponsored the Bud Pole Award through its Budweiser brand, which also became the “Official Beer of NASCAR” through 2007.
Coca-Cola has been involved with stock car racing for 50 years and became a NASCAR Official Partner in 1998. As a Premier Partner, Coca-Cola will continue its sponsorship of both NASCAR Troops to the Track and NASCAR Salutes, the portion of the season focused on highlighting industry-wide appreciation of the U.S. Armed Forces. Coca-Cola will also continue to own race entitlements at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, Coca-Cola becomes the presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship trophy
“Coca-Cola has a long history of successful collaboration with NASCAR and elevating our position to Premier Partner provides even more opportunity to connect fans to unforgettable experiences,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “Further integrating our two brands affords Coca-Cola the opportunity to build on our winning formula and contribute to the growth of the sport in the years ahead.”
The agreement further enhances Coca-Cola’s position as the “Official Soft Drink of NASCAR.” A signature part of the brand’s marketing strategy is the Coca-Cola Racing Family – an exclusive group of top drivers representing Coca-Cola who are featured across company advertising, promotions and packaging.
GEICO’s involvement in NASCAR spans more than a decade and the company became the “Official Insurance Provider of NASCAR” earlier this year. As one of the most fully integrated brands in the sport, GEICO will enhance its existing assets through its Premier Partnership and become the presenting partner of a season phase.
“Our affiliation with NASCAR has been successful over the past decade and expanding our role to Premier Partner was the next logical step,” said Bill Brower, assistant vice president of marketing for GEICO. “Our expanded presence will allow us to further engage the most brand-loyal fans in sports, bolster our effective marketing platform and play a prominent role in the sport in the years ahead.”
Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered the sport with a landmark 10-year partner agreement in 2015, positioned as the title sponsor of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the “Official Entertainment Partner of NASCAR.” As a Premier Partner, Xfinity will maintain its Xfinity Series sponsorship, central to its NASCAR strategy. Xfinity will also sponsor the Championship 4 elimination race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Martinsville Speedway.
“The first five years of our partnership with NASCAR has exceeded our expectations and the season-long national platform has provided increased exposure for the Xfinity brand and allowed us to demonstrate how our products and services enhance the way race fans enjoy this great sport,” said Matt Lederer, vice president of brand partnerships, Comcast. “Given the overwhelming fan reaction and how the industry has embraced the Xfinity brand, we’re thrilled to expand upon that commitment by becoming a Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series, while also continuing to showcase the young stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series.”
Throughout the past five years, Xfinity has elevated the series “Where Names Are Made,” supporting the introduction of an elimination-style Playoffs, reenergizing the Dash 4 Cash program, reimagining how champions are celebrated at Xfinity Champion’s Day at Universal Orlando Resort and has honored charitable efforts within the industry through its prestigious Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award platform. Xfinity continues to change the way fans access the sport through its Xfinity Stream app, Xfinity X1 video and Xfinity xFi internet.
NASCAR announced today several leadership promotions across its Sales and Partnership Marketing operations. Frank Kelleher has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer. Additionally, Michelle Byron and Jeff Wohlschlaeger have both been promoted to Vice President, Partnership Marketing.
Kelleher will oversee a team responsible for business strategy and revenue generation across the sanctioning body and its 14 motorsports entertainment facilities. In his new role, he will lead a sales force comprised of two critical business areas, partnership and media sales. Kelleher, a 16-year veteran with International Speedway Corporation, will assume the role of NASCAR Chief Sales Officer, which was previously held by Jon Tuck, who has left the company to pursue other opportunities. Kelleher will continue to report into Daryl Wolfe, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations and Sales Officer and will be based in Daytona Beach, Fla.
?As collaboration becomes increasingly important across our sport, Kelleher?s industry knowledge and strength in creating lasting relationships has proven to be a valuable asset throughout his career,? said Wolfe. ?Frank has taken a leading role in delivering strategic sponsorships across our entire ecosystem and we are excited to have him lead our sales operation during this important time for our sport.?
In their elevated roles, both Byron and Wohlschlaeger will oversee a team that is responsible for managing and delivering value to the wide-ranging number of brands invested across the sanctioning body and its track facilities. Byron has been with NASCAR for nearly 20 years and has been accountable for managing a team focused on driving value for Official Partners such as Axalta, Chevrolet and Mobil 1. She has been instrumental in developing key partner initiatives including retail programs, live fan events and national promotions. Wohlschlaeger has more than 25 years of sports industry experience spanning across the Chicago Bulls and NASCAR. Most recently, Wohlschlaeger was responsible for delivering value for entitlement partners Monster Energy, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors, implementing strategies that helped strengthen and differentiate each series. Both will report into Jill Gregory, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Byron will be based in Charlotte, NC and Wohlschlaeger will be based in Daytona Beach, Fla.
?Sponsorship is the lifeblood of our sport and delivering value to our partners will always be a primary area of focus for our organization,? said Gregory, ?Michelle and Jeff bring a wealth of experience and established industry relationships that will help our partners navigate our ecosystem and maximize their return on investment?