NASCAR announced at the end of last week that they had signed an extension to their existing sponsorship deal with telecoms giant Sprint, which will see the company have naming rights to the top-level Cup series through to the end of the 2016 season.
The series became the Sprint Cup when the Sprint Corporation took over Nextel Communications in 2005. Nextel had been the title sponsors since 2004 when they replaced longtime series sponsor Winston, and Sprint took over the original ten-year sponsorship deal with their acquisition and the Nextel Cup duly became the Sprint Cup.
The original deal would have expired at the end of the 2013 season, but it had seemed clear for much of this season that Sprint were looking at extending and deepening their backing of America's most popular motor sport series, leading to last week's announcement that a three-year extension would see Sprint remaing as the the sport's main backers until the end of 2016.
"I could not be more pleased than to announce and celebrate tonight that Sprint and NASCAR have agreed to an extension of our relationship," said Sprint chief executive officer Dan Hesse.
Hesse was speaking on Friday in Las Vegas, where NASCAR's officials, teams, drivers and sponsors were assembled at the Wynne Hotel-Casino for several days of post-season celebrations - which included Sprint handing new champion Tony Stewart a cheque for $5.8m, as well as the sight of Jeff Gordon revealing a hitherto unsuspected talent for break dancing.
"It probably wasn't an option for us not to [extend]", said Sprint's vice president for corporate marketing Steve Gaffney. "It's too important for us as a brand. It's an incredible relationship. It's a great sport ... The enthusiasm of the fans, the product of the track: we couldn't be more proud to be associated with NASCAR, and we look forward to this relationship growing more and more over the coming years."
"We're pleased to have Sprint back and to have an extension," said NASCAR's chief marketing officer Steve Phelps. "To have a brand like Sprint, who is our entitlement partner and our largest sponsor in the sport, to come back and essentially renew early for us is huge. I think it provides a lot of wind at our back.
"We had a great year at the track, an incredible Chase with the best finish we've had ever in our Sprint Cup history," he continued. "So, yeah, I think it will provide some significant wind at our back and help those teams that are still looking for sponsorship."
Neither Sprint nor NASCAR would give details about the financial terms of the agreement, and whether or not Sprint are maintaining their former level of sponsorship funding - estimated at around $70m per year - or whether the current economic climate has forced everyone to tighten their belts as the price for the financial security and public endorsement of an early renewal.
“I can say that I'm 100 percent [sure] that both Sprint and NASCAR are really pleased about the way the negotiations ended up and the fact that we're partners through 2016,” insisted Gaffney.