Sprint ending NASCAR Cup Series sponsorship
NASCAR will need a new sponsor for its Cup Series after the 2016 season.
Sprint is ending its sponsorship of NASCAR’s premier division after the 2016 season, the company announced Tuesday.
The decision comes with Sprint in the midst of a leadership transition and experiencing a downtrend in sales. The wireless carrier has been involved in NASCAR since buying Nextel in 2005, assuming Nextel’s 10-year sponsorship agreement. Sprint signed a three-year extension with NASCAR in December 2011 taking it through 2016.
Prior to Sprint, NASCAR’s Cup Series was sponsored by R.J. Reynolds’ Winston cigarette brand from 1971 to 2003.
“NASCAR and Sprint have enjoyed a long and productive partnership that has returned significant value to both parties,” said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer. We understand significant changes within Sprint and the highly competitive business environment it is in has led to a decision not to extend its Cup Series entitlement position following the 2016 season.”
Sprint’s announcement gives NASCAR two years to find a entitlement sponsor, and follows Nationwide ending its backing of the Nationwide Series, NASCAR’s No. 2 division, after the recently completed 2014 season. Xfinity signed a 10-year agreement estimated at close to $200 million to replace Nationwide beginning in 2015.
In addition to its entitlement sponsorship, which funds the championship points bonuses exceeding $20 million this season, Sprint also supports the exhibition races at Daytona International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a very unique, premium sports marketing platform with strong momentum, so we are very confident of moving forward in 2017 with an outstanding new partner,” Jewkes said. “In the meantime, we look forward to Sprint’s partnership on the best racing series in the world for the next two seasons.”