3 September 2014
NASCAR: XFINITY to take over from Nationwide
NASCAR's second-tier championship will be renamed the XFINITY Series in 2015, as the broadband and cable brand takes over from Nationwide Insurance.
NASCAR's Nationwide Series will have a new name from 2015, when Comcast's cable and broadband division XFINITY becomes the official entitlement partner in a new ten-year deal.
"We're proud to welcome XFINITY to the NASCAR community as title sponsor of the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the next decade," said Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR. "NASCAR and XFINITY are each leader brands with much in common. Both are focused on innovation and have products built for speed.
"Together, we will work to take this series to new heights and elevate one of the most unique and powerful partnerships in all of sports."
"We're absolutely delighted to have an innovative technology company join us like XFINITY brand with Comcast," added Brent Dewar, NASCAR's Chief Operating Officer at the announcement on Wednesday afternoon. "We have been very progressive in introducing innovation and technology to our sport
"We think this is a perfect marriage and partnership to help us over the next 10 years truly grow the XFINITY Series in the way that we have designed," he said.
"Technology lives at the heart of NASCAR, just as it does for XFINITY," agreed Dave Watson, Executive Vice President and COO for Comcast Cable. "NASCAR provides an exciting environment in which to showcase our video and Internet products and we look forward to further enhancing the fan experience at home, at the track and on the go for years to come."
As well as the XFINITY brand, Comcast also owns the US television broadcast network NBC and its cable specialist channel NBC Sports Network, which will broadcast the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events next season as well as the final 19 races of what will now be the XFINITY Series.
XFINITY will be only the third title sponsor in the lifetime of the championship, which began in 1982. For the first 26 years it was known first as the NASCAR Busch Series and then the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series thanks to sponsorship from brewing giant Anheuser-Busch. In 2008 Nationwide Insurance took over in a seven-year deal, which expires at the end of the current season.
"Our relationship is not coming to an end," insisted Dewar of the links between NASCAR and Nationwide. "It's continuing to evolve. They've been a fantastic contributor to NASCAR, and we couldn't thank them enough for what they've done in their entitlement sponsorship of the series.
He added that like all companies, Nationwide "are evolving to their next phase that aligns up to their marketing strategy as an official sponsor and also moving into the team part."
Nationwide will continue to be the official auto, home, life and business insurance of NASCAR, and also the presenting sponsor of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. In addition, Nationwide will sponsor Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt for 12 races beginning in 2015 and 13 races for the following two seasons.
"So as part of the ecosystem of the sport, we're delighted with that," said Dewar. "We're glad they feel strongly about the Nationwide Series and equally proud that they see the value in NASCAR and want to continue to invest in the sport. That's a win-win-win for all of us."
NASCAR's ten-year deal with XFINITY is the longest single agreement around title sponsorship of any NASCAR national series to date. XFINITY is Comcast's residential service brand and is the United States' largest video and high-speed Internet provider, and the agreement also makes XFINITY the Official NASCAR Partner in the multichannel video programming distributor and broadband ISP categories.
NASCAR and XFINITY will carry out discussions as to whether any changes in format for the championship will be introduced, such as its own version of the Chase play-offs used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. However a ban on Cup drivers competing in the NASCAR INFINITY Series seems unlikely, with both parties keen to position the series as a proving ground where new rising stars can pit themselves against proven veterans.
"Look at the theme we have in the XFINITY Series - 'where names are made,'" said Dewar. "These young, talented drivers we've been building through our NASCAR Next program and our Drive For Diversity program, many of those drivers are now growing into the XFINITY Series.
"You think about the ability to connect with millennials and to be contextually relevant, that's what it's all about," he added. "That's exciting to them, and it's equally exciting to us to be able to amplify that message to our great fan base."
Sprint's entitlement arrangement for the Cup championship had been extended through to the end of 2016, while earlier this year Camping World announced a seven year extension to their existing sponsorship of the Truck Series taking the arrangement through to 2022.
Financial terms of such deals are not generally made public, but reports have calculated the cost of XFINITY's new naming rights deal as being between $10 and $20 million per annum over the course of the ten-year agreement.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will make its return to Richmond International Raceway for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 on September 5, while the first race of the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series will be on February 21 2015 at Daytona International Speedway.
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