According to our friends at the Sports Business Journal, the potential Wal-Mart and Jeff Gordon sponsorship package has fallen apart and the retail giant is rethinking their plans for NASCAR involvement.
One source said Wal-Mart is in a re-evaluation process to determine the right place for its sponsorship spending and that it could still develop personal-services deals with an array of drivers, instead of going with a primary sponsorship of a single driver.
Industry sources added that word of a potential deal between Wal-Mart and Hendrick had created a significant level of angst among the other Sprint Cup teams. They had expressed concern over how Wal-Mart, as the licensed mass retailer for the trust, would manage its relationship with all of the teams when it was a primary sponsor for Gordon, and whether Gordon’s merchandise would receive favorable display in the stores.
Rick Hendrick also confirmed that Wal-Mart wasn't going to be Gordon's sponsor.
“You talk to a lot of people, and they were someone we talked to,” Hendrick said. “We got down the road a bit, but timing is one of those things – possibly we’ll do something down the road with them but it won’t be next year.”
Those retail concerns are valid concerns, especially if Wal-Mart becomes the official partner for the new NASCAR licensing trust.
This leaves Gordon without some primary sponsorship, perhaps the biggest sign of the economic downturn on NASCAR. How bizarre is it that a four-time champion and a two-time champion (Tony Stewart) still have multiple open races for 2011?