Closing the loop on a long-rumored partnership that ties up the last major sponsorless driver and the last major driverless sponsor, Kevin Harvick and Budweiser have joined forces for 20 races in 2011.
The deal is scheduled to run for three seasons, and will also cover two non-points events the Bud Shootout and the Sprint All-Star race, according to the Associated Press. It's an ideal match of driver and sponsor, as Harvick is one of the few top drivers right now who truly seems to fit with Bud's brand. (Kasey Kahne, alas, never quite cut it for me as a beer pitchman.) Budweiser indicated that it will invest the same amount of funding as before, but will place much of that in advertising and promotion -- which means Harvick's days as a Coke pitchman are done, and you can expect to see plenty of Harvick/Bud ads in the years ahead.
So, for those keeping track at home, here's how the sponsor/driver merry-go-round shakes out for 2011:
Harvick loses Shell. Kurt Busch gains Shell, sheds Lite Beer. Lite Beer goes to Brad Keselowski. Kasey Kahne loses Budweiser. Kahne goes to Red Bull. Budweiser jumps to Harvick. Got it? Good, because there will be a quiz later.