Junior's sponsorship part of Nationwide evolution
May 02, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will carry sponsorship for select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from Nationwide Insurance beginning in 2015, the three-year deal announced by Hendrick Motorsports and Nationwide officials.
"We have had a relationship with them for a very long time; it's been successful on both sides," Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. "… We were obviously looking for a good fit and looking for something that would work out well. I can't imagine a better scenario and I think Nationwide is very excited to get going and start working together in the Cup series."
Diet Mountain Dew and the National Guard currently sponsor the Hendrick Motorsports driver. HMS officials have been looking for funding to fill out the remaining open slots on the No. 88 Chevrolet. Time Warner Cable, along with Hendrickcars.com, provided sponsorship for five races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry last season.
"I think it says a lot about the direction Nationwide wanted to go after their involvement in the sport for some time, that they wanted to move forward and do something new with their objectives," Earnhardt Jr. said. "… I think the Nationwide Series currently is very healthy due to what Nationwide has been able to accomplish in the series."
According to HMS, the agreement calls for Nationwide to serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 88 team for 12 Sprint Cup races in 2015, and 13 races in ‘16 and ‘17.
The company will serve as an associate sponsor in the remaining events each season as well.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is in the final year of a seven-year agreement as entitlement series sponsor for NASCAR and currently has endorsement deals with Earnhardt Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Danica Patrick.
"Dale Jr.'s personal brand, to me, is characterized by authenticity and sincerity," Matt Jauchius, Chief Marketing Officer for Nationwide Insurance, said in a telephone interview with NASCAR.com Friday. "And those are really two things of the things at Nationwide that we feel represents our company. So we feel very comfortable and really emotionally connected to Dale in our brands and what we stand for.
"Now we have a new relationship with (team owner) Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports. I can't say enough about what a first-class organization that is, what a great businessman and good partner Rick Hendrick already is.
"Across every aspect you could imagine, it just seemed like a perfect match for us."
Jauchius said the move to Cup sponsorship was part of the evolution of the company's involvement in the sport, and likened it to drivers, owners and others that move up through the ranks in the sport.
"We thought that journey made sense for us too," he said. "Here we are six or seven years later, we feel -- and I say this with some pride in my team -- we feel like we've established ourselves as a highly credible and respectable sponsor to NASCAR that fans … know we really care about the sport."
Jauchius said the company would continue its relationship with Patrick, and was hopeful something could be worked out to continue the relationship with Stenhouse Jr.
"She does television commercials, digital advertising, personal appearances, that will continue exactly as you've always seen it," he said.
"As for Ricky, his specific contract is up this year. We will not be doing anything on the 17 car next year. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a fantastic young driver. He is a two-time Nationwide series champ. We are actually in discussions with him right now about do we continue some sort of formal relationship next year. We are hopeful and positive that that can occur."
Jauchius also said Nationwide would continue its sponsorship relationship with the series' event at Mid-Ohio, and would be open to increasing its involvement with Earnhardt Jr. should the opportunity present itself.
"We have deep commitment to that race and obviously to Nationwide Children's hospital," he said of the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 road course event. " So our plan is to continue sponsorship of that race for the foreseeable future. …
"There is nothing written down … but we are very passionate and supportive of this relationship with HMS and with Dale. I would not be surprised if in the future it expanded.
"We really respect the National Guard and Diet Mt. Dew … we respect the sponsors right to make their decisions for their brands, but if races open up we'll take a look at it."