Sponsorship woes put Swan Racing future in doubtCole Whitt sits on the pit-road wall as he waits on qualifications for a NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C., Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Swan Racing is reviewing its ability to compete in NASCAR because of difficulty securing corporate sponsorship for the two-car operation.
Swan Racing owner Brandon Davis, the CEO of independent oil and gas company Swan Energy, bought the organization in late 2012. Cole Whitt drives the No. 26 Toyota Camry and Parker Kligerman drives the No. 30 Toyota Camry for Swan in the Sprint Cup series.
''The team has been unable to secure the kind of sponsorship required to effectively operate the team,'' Swan Racing said in a statement. ''As a result, the team management is exploring every available option. We hope to be in position to provide a detailed update in the near future.''
Davis had been transforming the organization he purchased in late 2012. A former start-and-park team, he set a goal of racing in every event. Then he pumped the organization with needed cash when he signed former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski as an investor and rapper 50 Cent used his SMS Audio line to partner with the team.
But unable to keep funding the cars out of his own pocket, Davis may have to shut down the team. That leaves two rookies drivers with few options at this point of the season. Whitt (33rd in the standings) and Kligerman (38th) have struggled to produce any meaningful results on the track or finish races.
The Cup series is off this weekend, then heads to Richmond.
Davis came into NASCAR with every intention of building a competitive team. He rebranded the Inception Racing team he purchased in August 2012 and vowed to build a start-and-park foundation. Under the Inception brand, former driver David Stremme parked early in 20 of 28 races in 2012. Swan Racing was a one-car team last season, primarily with Stremme. The team had five top-20 finishes.
Davis added Kligerman and Whitt to the roster and expanded to two cars for the 2014 season. Expanding to two teams required doubling the team personnel, and a larger investment, which Davis did without steady sponsorship.
''We did everything we said we were going to do, and paid all our bills. It was just more difficult than I expected,'' Davis said in February. ''NASCAR is an entrepreneur's dream. It's a good platform because you can be creative with the way you bring money into your team and work partnerships. The structure opens the door for entrepreneurs to come in and use this platform for different kinds of marketing opportunities, and this is one of them.''
Davis reached out to a variety of interested parties to help fund the team and bring attention to his fledgling program. Romanowski came aboard as an investor and Iowa businessman Anthony Marlowe was added this season as a minority owner.
Swan Racing made headlines at this year's Daytona 500 when 50 Cent brought his headphones and audio line into NASCAR. He had branding for his SMS Audio line on both Kligerman and Whitt's cars for the Daytona 500. The logos were on Kligerman and Whitt's uniforms, and the drivers were featured on Swan-branded SMS Audio headphones.
However, Kligerman's car went airborne and landed on its roof in his first full Daytona 500 practice and his luck never really improved. He's finished 40th or worse in five of his eight starts.