News & Media

Crown Royal ends sponsorship of No. 17 after '11

June 28, 2011, David Caraviello,

Sponsor opts for marketing shift, significantly rolling back NASCAR involvement

Crown Royal is ending its sponsorship of Matt Kenseth's No. 17 car after this season as part of a marketing shift that will see the company significantly roll back its involvement in NASCAR.

Yvonne Briese, vice president of marketing for Crown Royal's parent company, Diageo, said in a statement Tuesday that the spirits manufacturer would end both its official sponsorship of NASCAR and its backing of Roush Fenway's No. 17 program effective at the end of the 2011 season.

"We have developed strong relationships with the people at both organizations -- they have not only been fantastic business partners, but have also become our friends," Briese said. "We thank them for working with us throughout the years to showcase the importance of our social responsibility initiatives. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2011 season and like the many fans we've gained along the way, we'll never stop rooting for the No. 17 car on its way to Victory Lane."

The changes are made to allow Diageo to shift resources toward its annual "Your Name Here" program, in which Crown Royal awards naming rights to a Sprint Cup event to an adult fan, recently with a military background. "We look forward to elevating this program as well as continuing our presence in the sport through an experience that our fans have grown to love," Briese said.

Details about next year's race sponsorship will be announced at a later date, she added. The "Your Name Here" event has traditionally been held at Richmond International Raceway, but there was no information immediately available Tuesday as to what track would host the race in 2012 and beyond.

"We are disappointed about Crown Royal's decision regarding other relationships but are hopeful that they will return to Richmond International Raceway," the Virginia track said in a statement. " The 'Your Name Here' program that was created by Richmond International Raceway and [parent company] ISC has been a great consumer program for Crown Royal and Richmond International Raceway for many years."

Crown Royal has been Kenseth's primary car sponsor since the start of the 2010 season. Diageo was among the first companies to enter NASCAR after the sport's ban on spirits sponsors was lifted late in 2004, joining with Roush and Kurt Busch before aligning with former Roush driver Jamie McMurray for four years.

"We are obviously disappointed with the news, but first we would like to thank Diageo and Crown Royal for a terrific partnership that has spanned almost a decade. They have been a first-class partner all the way around. We look forward to finishing out the season with them on the No. 17 as Matt and the Crown Royal team continue to contend for another championship," Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said in a statement.

"It's unfortunate that they will not be able to continue to be a part of our organization. Fortunately, our race programs are operating at a higher level than ever. The No. 17 is an attractive, championship-winning program with a storied history and Matt Kenseth an elite driver. We have already opened the door for discussions and are currently in the process of speaking with companies interested in taking over the program for next season and beyond."

Affliction, a clothing brand which has served as a primary sponsor on the No. 17 twice this season, announced Tuesday it would also be Kenseth's primary sponsor at Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and the July 17th race at New Hampshire.