Alright Junior Nation, this is your chance to get your name on your idol's car. Of course, it will cost you millions of dollars, but primary sponsorship of the most popular driver EVAR isn't free. You certainly didn't think that, did you?
Oh, these races are also towards the end of the year. You could be on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car as he goes for his first Sprint Cup title. Historic.
On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said that 13 races were available after the summer for Junior's Sprint Cup Series No. 88. They're not worried about filling those races at all, so if you better jump at this opportunity, especially if you present Hendrick with the 'right' deal.
“We’ve got a lot of good opportunities and the way we’re positioned, our car is covered until the end of the summer,” Hendrick said Wednesday during the Sprint Media Tour. “I’m looking for the right deal, not any deal. If I wanted any deal, I would put ‘Hendrick cars’ on it. … I have no worries about that car having a full deal come the end of the year.”
Oh, and you must be willing to commit to a long-term deal as well. For the other 24 points races of the season, Junior's car is sponsored by Diet Mountain Dew and the National Guard. The Guard operates on one year contracts, and according to Sporting News, the cost of its sponsorship (including sponsor activation) was a cool $26.5 million for 16 races last year.
Junior isn't alone in the "high profile driver seeking additional primary sponsorship to fill out the season" category. Tony Stewart is there too, as he said on Monday that his team was looking for primary sponsorship for eight to nine races for the rest of the season. Like Hendrick, Stewart didn't seem too concerned that there was available real estate on both his and Ryan Newman's cars at various points in the season.
Why? Likely because the market rate for sponsorship -- especially for high profile drivers -- is higher than the costs of running a race team. Yes, teams like Hendrick and Stewart-Haas have larger operations, and therefore, larger expenses, than say, Joe Nemechek, who runs his own team on a shoestring budget, but it's also Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. There's a lot of power in three Sprint Cup Series titles and 10 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards.
So when you combine a still-recovering economy with the rising costs of operating a championship level Cup team, openings aren't all that unfathomable. But both Hendrick and Stewart-Haas are also not in the position of taking whatever they can get to simply have a sponsor on the car for a reduced rate. There's no other reason to explain they keep rebuffing our FromTheMarbles.com sponsorship attempts, though it certainly doesn't hurt that their team owners also have deep pockets either.
“If I’m going to dilute it, I might as well take it myself. I spend $90-100 million dollars a year in advertising (for my dealerships), why not do it myself?" Hendrick said. "It makes more sense to me and so I’m not concerned. … If I had a car I had to worry about sponsorship on, it ain’t Dale Junior's car.”
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