Race Weekend Central

Beth’s Brief: Quicken Loans Signing a Positive Sight

Tuesday morning, all eyes were on Stewart-Haas Racing and the “big announcement” that was scheduled, and as people began showing up and tweeting out pictures beforehand, it instantly became clear that Quicken Loans would be in the middle of it all. And when all was said and done, the company was in the middle, alright–as the centerpiece of Ryan Newman’s 2013 sponsorship package. Having served as a primary sponsor for nine events with Newman and an associate sponsor for team owner Tony Stewart, the Detroit-based company has doubled their commitment to the team for the 2013 season. The nation’s largest online mortgage lender will serve as primary sponsor for Newman in 18 races and as an associate sponsor on both the No. 39 and the No. 14 Chevrolets.

“We were not sure what to expect with the 2012 season being our first in the sport. What we quickly found was that NASCAR fans are tremendously passionate and loyal to the brands that help drive their sport,” Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer for Quicken Loans said. “It was their commitment to our company that ultimately allowed us to significantly increase our involvement with the sport, Stewart-Haas Racing and Ryan Newman.”

Ryan Newman, a driver that typically doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, looked visibly relieved knowing he’s got half of the season taken care of after the departure of U.S. Army, who served as Newman’s primary sponsor for 12 events this year.

“I’m really looking forward to having Quicken Loans back with the team in 2013. Over the past year I’ve come to know the company well, and learned more about mortgages than I ever thought I would,” Newman said. “They’re really into our sport and have engaged with our fans in a big way. I look forward to representing them well through the rest of this year and next.”

As for the other open races, Stewart seemed quite confident that they’ll have all of the races sold before the 2013 season even begins, something that has not necessarily been the case in NASCAR across the board this year.

“We’ve got a number of them already re-signed and still under contract,” Stewart said. “This gets us pretty close to having that inventory sold. This was a big, big void filled by what we’re losing with U.S. Army.”

With sponsorship issues plaguing all three of NASCAR’s top series, the news couldn’t be better for SHR and the sport as a whole. Knowing that there’s a company willing to invest more in the sport rather than scaling back or removing themselves altogether can only be good news for the future.

And it’s equally good news for an organization that has lost the primary sponsorship in Office Depot just two years after losing Old Spice, a company that had backed Stewart for 11 years. What I did find rather interesting about the whole press conference was how uncertain Tony Stewart was about the future of the No. 39 team despite having already re-signed Newman for the 2013 season.

“I definitely (was worried),” Stewart said. “We’ve got a couple of big holes on the sponsorship side so this definitely fills a big part of that and definitely helps us on the 39 car side and take a lot of pressure off of ensuring whether or not we will have this car on the track full time next year. It will be on track full time.”

Consider for a moment that SHR is expanding to three full-time teams next season with the addition of Danica Patrick. You would think that before those decisions were made, arrangements for sponsorship would be the key discussion. However, that apparently wasn’t the case with SHR re-signing Newman despite not knowing how they would replace the 12 races that the U.S. Army had taken care of this season. While that shows a lot of confidence in Newman, it had to take a toll on the confidence of the entire organization not knowing whether they’d be able to field all three cars in every race.

The good news for Newman is that he will be on track full time next year, something that was apparently in question prior to the signing with Quicken Loans. While it’s far from a full season sponsorship and there are still questions about who will replace the departing Office Depot on Stewart’s No 14, SHR is headed in the right direction with four months left before next year’s season opener to fill the holes that are left for the team.

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