Race Weekend Central

New Sponsors Signaling a Turnaround?

Sponsorship has been hard to come by recently in NASCAR, as many teams can attest with blank hoods and quarter panels. But as three teams announced new sponsorship on Monday during the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour, is the worst finally over? It’s hard to say, because these aren’t exactly small time teams, but perhaps things are turning around. Monday’s announcements also included reminders of long-time sponsors who have stayed loyal to NASCAR.

Kicking off the tour was a team with one of the longest owner-sponsor relationships in Motorsports. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and department store giant Target will pair up on Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 41 car again this year, but the relationship between Target and Ganassi that began in 1990 in the IndyCar Series is entering its 21st season. Bass Pro Shops also returns to EGR and Jamie McMurray. Energizer batteries will enter its 16th season in 2011.

New at EGR are Lift Master garage door openers and Widia, a company that manufactures metal cutting tools. Both will be associate sponsors of McMurray’s No. 1 car.

Stewart-Haas Racing lost Old Spice after 2010 but is bringing Mobil One oils on to fill the void while Office Depot and the US Army, both of which have been with SHR since its inception in 2009.

Finally, Penske Racing adds Shell Pennzoil as primary sponsor to the No. 22 of Kurt Busch. Penske also announced an extension to its relationship with the American Automobile Association, which will sponsor a handful of races on the No. 22 as well as on the No. 3 IndyCar machine driven by Helio Castroneves. Ruby Tuesday restaurants will sponsor Brad Keselowski in a total of nine Nationwide Series races and becaomes an associate sponsor on his No. 2 Cup ride as well. Finally, Alliance truck parts will sponsor Sam Hornish, Jr. for a partial Nationwide Series schedule as well.

While some sponsorships simply moved from one team to another, there are some new companies trickling into the sport. And as the economy grows stronger, so too, will NASCAR.

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