Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hard liquor about to hit the NASCAR sponsorship road

   What was once a sponsorship boon in NASCAR appears set to disappear.

   When NASCAR lifted its long-standing ban on hard liquor sponsors beginning with the 2005 season, it produced an influx of several lucrative deals from Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Crown Royal, among others.

   On Tuesday, Diageo, the parent company of Crown Royal, announced it was ending its sponsorship relationships with NASCAR and Roush Fenway Racing's No. 17 team driven by Matt Kenseth following the 2011 season.

   Crown Royal is the last remaining hard liquor sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series following the infusion of new sponsors six years ago.

   "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. We thank them for working with us throughout the years to showcase the importance of our social responsibility initiatives," said Yvonne Briese, vice president of marketing for Diageo.

   "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."

   Prior to the 2005 season, NASCAR teams were allowed to advertise beer and malt beverages such as Smirnoff Ice but not hard liquor. The ban was in place in part because of an agreement then among major television networks to turn down hard-liquor commercials.

Can Stewart get revenge and a title?

   Obviously Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers may be seeing more of each other on the track given their run-in at Sonoma, Calif. From his comments, Stewart doesn't plan and letting anyone get away with much of anything in the coming weeks.

   Is that necessarily the best position for Stewart considering he still has a lot of work to do to secure a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup?  Jeff Gordon isn't so sure.

   "The only thing I'll say is if you're going to try to win a championship, those types of situations are, in my opinion, going to hinder you from doing that. If you start getting into a battle with a guy, especially if it's somebody that is not in championship contention, you know, then what happens is you're not going to win. It's going to be a lose for you and everybody," he said. "If it's somebody that's in the championship, then you guys have to figure out how to settle it, whether it happens on the track or off the track.

   "If you're that upset at what happened, and you see that guy again before the race is over, you're still upset, depends on how your fuse is. Some people have short fuses and some people have long fuses. I got into a battle with Tony Stewart before. That's not a guy I battle with anymore. We had our situation. I'm so glad that we resolved it fairly quickly. Nobody has more respect for one another out there than me and Tony because I've been on the other side of it with him when he can get mad. He's not a guy that you want to have gunning at you. He's a great race car driver, he's smart, he can get really mad. We'll see how this one turns out."