There are few major sports less iconically
integrated with their title sponsor than
NASCAR, which has effectively melded its
brand in the modern era with the major
backers Winston, Nextel and Sprint. That
presents both challenge and opportunity,
now that Sprint is set to be replaced by
Monster Energy Drink for the 2017
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season.
“A lot of it is, they know motorsports,
so they’re not just along for the ride,”
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France
A first priority for Monster is expanding
exposure to a younger demographic,
something NASCAR itself has struggled
with in recent years.
“They’re an edgy brand, they’re a
fun brand,” France said. “They get at a
millennial audience in a different way
than clearly we’ve ever been associated
with, particularly at this level. And they
know what they’re doing.”
While Monster hasn’t yet offered any
specifics on what it might like to change,
it was surely no coincidence that such an
out-of-the-box idea as midweek races for
addressing NASCAR’s challenge with
declining TV ratings was floated in the
weeks following its announcement as
NASCAR’s new patron.
Monster – and NASCAR – also got an
early Christmas present with the
announcement in early December that
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had been cleared to
return to racing in 2017. Could a blend
of new ideas and the best of NASCAR’s
traditional strengths be in the offing?
A leaner and meaner Roush Fenway Racing
let Greg Biffle go after 14 seasons and 19
wins with the team in NASCAR’s top league.
Biffle, 46, went deep into December without
a ride, but insists he has options for 2017.
NASCAR’s new title sponsor Monster vows fresh approach
NO CREATURE OF HABIT
GOODBYE, SEE YOU
AROUND, STEWART SAYS
Tony Stewart’s retirement from
NASCAR racing lacked the shock
value of Nico Rosberg’s F1 exit, having
been announced a year ago, but the
departure of the three-time Sprint
Cup champion still leaves a big hole.
Yet Stewart remains active in the
sport as a co-owner of Stewart-Haas
Racing – which switches from Chevy
to Ford for 2017, with Clint Bowyer
set to take over Stewart’s seat. And,
the boss plans to keep racing, too.
“For 18 years, we were under a
pretty strict schedule,” he noted.
“Now we get to pick and choose
where we want to be.”
Don’t expect the Indy 500 to be
among the chosen ones, though...
”It’s not like 20 years ago, where
you could put together a deal and
have a really good Indy program,”
Stewart said. “You look at the teams
that win and run competitively the
whole month of May, and they’re the
teams that run competitive all year.
You’re not just gonna waltz in there
on a one-off deal and make it work.”
JAMMIN’ WITH SMOKE
Tony Stewart was composed for most
of the night in his NASCAR farewell at
the Sprint Cup awards, but his
surprise into from Pearl Jam’s Eddie
Vedder left the retiring ace starstruck.
RISING TO THE
and crew chief Chad
Knaus once again
delivered when it
counted. Winning at
Homestead to claim
a seventh Cup
his 16th season,
Richard Petty and
Dale Earnhardt, but
did it much faster
than either of them
(see page 46).
said of Monster, which has racing
sponsorships running the gamut from
supercross to personal relationships with
Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton. “They
have some real good opinions on what
they want to get done here. So, we’re
going to listen to them.”
“THEY’RE AN EDGY BRAND... THEY
GET AT A MILLENNIAL AUDIENCE IN
A DIFFERENT WAY”
Monster Energy’s name goes on one of
sport’s top entertainment properties. Can
it take NASCAR to the next level?
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