Office Depot does not plan to return as Tony Stewart's sponsor for the 2013 NASCAR season. The company has admitted that it "will not be renewing as the primary sponsor of the No. 14 team," so Stewart-Haas Racing is searching for alternatives. Although Mobil 1 will remain with Stewart, it is not clear who else will sponsor the driver next season.
Office Depot is Leaving
Office Depot has sponsored Tony Stewart in the Sprint Cup Series since 2009. The company's decision to stop being one of the primary sponsors for Stewart has been blamed on the economy and changing business needs. However, the vague announcement from Office Depot to leave the No. 14 car has led some fans to associate the decision with Stewart's behavior at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Office Depot made its statement more than a week after Tony Stewart threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth in the IRWIN Tools Night Race. Stewart was not penalized for his actions by NASCAR, and Office Depot has not mentioned the incident.
Will Office Depot Return in Another Role?
The announcement from Office Depot places an emphasis on not returning "as the primary sponsor" next season, but the company could be back in a lesser role. It is rumored that Stewart-Haas Racing is trying to negotiate a deal with Office Depot for 2013 that will allow the company to stay as a sponsor. Office Depot may still return in the future, but it seems the focus has shifted to boosting store sales. The company's 2012 second quarter results showed sales have gone down 7 percent compared to last year.
Mobil 1 is Staying with the No. 14 Team
Although Office Depot is leaving, Mobil 1 does not have any plans to abandon the No. 14 team next year. However, Tony Stewart is still searching for another sponsor because Mobil 1 will only cover half of the Sprint Cup Series for 2013. Mobil 1 and Office Depot were sharing the primary sponsorship role this year. Stewart-Haas Racing is rumored to be negotiating with several companies to replace Office Depot, but a deal has not been made.
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Growing up in Indiana, Lana developed a love for motorsports at an early age. She follows NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.