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NASCAR asking official sponsors for help in finding new rides for Wallace, Patrick

NASCAR asking official sponsors for help in finding new rides for Wallace, Patrick

By Adam Stern, Staff Writer

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NASCAR is helping to land rides for high-profile, free-agent drivers Bubba Wallace and Danica Patrick, according to sources, including trying to entice its own sponsors to extend relationships with the drivers.

The sanctioning body has taken an increasingly active role over the last 12 to 18 months to stretch sales efforts beyond just selling league assets to identifying joint selling opportunities with stakeholders.

As the sanctioning body of the sport, NASCAR doesn’t own teams or tracks (aside from Iowa Speedway), but it has sought ways to package league, team, track and media assets into one bundle to make the sport easier to navigate for sponsors.

The strategy provides a way for sponsors to expand relationships to different stakeholders whereas previously a relationship with NASCAR would have forced the sponsor to strike several separate deals.

Bubba Wallace is seeking a full-time ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
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Sources said NASCAR’s business development team has been working to land sponsorships specifically for Wallace in recent months, as the 23-year-old is currently without a team despite being touted as the sport’s rising African-American star.

Wallace most recently drove full time for Roush Fenway Racing before his team suspended operations in June. He is being chased by multiple teams, including Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports, sources said. The sanctioning body has been trying to figure out ways to find Wallace the support it takes to run a full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It typically costs $10 million to $20 million to run a top-flight car in the series.

NASCAR declined comment.

Sources said the sanctioning body is talking to some of its official sponsors about backing or incorporating Wallace in marketing programs, ranging from TV advertising to digital and social media. It’s also trying to entice official sponsors to run several paint schemes next year on Wallace’s car, another move that could piece together enough funding for the year.

Sources said NASCAR has talked to brands including Coca-Cola, Xfinity and Yeti coolers. Wallace is already part of the “Coca-Cola Racing Family” stable of endorsers, making the beverage giant a natural candidate to further back the driver.

It was unclear whether the funds that would go to Wallace’s new team would be part of an upsell by NASCAR, or a move to divert part of an official partner’s annual spend to the team.

The sanctioning body also is engaged in identifying possible rides for Patrick, the 35-year-old who has been NASCAR’s most well-known female driver for half a decade. Whether those efforts are as in depth for Patrick as they are for Wallace was unclear. Patrick is departing Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season.

NASCAR has worked on joint-selling opportunities before. For example, Eli Lilly’s program in the sport grew to include an official NASCAR sponsorship on top of its pre-existing team deal with Roush Fenway Racing.

“I wouldn’t characterize the 12 to 18 months as an epiphany that they need to combine their business development efforts (with other stakeholders),” one industry source said. “I think it’s more that they have evolved. And in the evolution they’ve gone from, ‘Hey, we’re going to sell our own assets,’ to, ‘Wouldn’t it make sense to try to sell across the ecosystem to create more compelling offers?’”


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