Since 2008, NASCAR’s top drivers have chased the Sprint Cup, the trophy given to the winner of the championship. But starting in 2017, that is going to change.
Sprint has announced that it will end its partnership with NASCAR when their current deal expires at the end of the 2016 season.
The original deal started in 2004 when Nextel replaced long-time sponsor Winston. After Nextel merged with Sprint, the name of the championship trophy and the NASCAR chase series were changed to the Sprint Cup and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
While sponsorships and name changes have become all-too-common in sports, NASCAR is one sport where sponsorships hold a deeper root and connection to both the drivers and the fans and this type of change is one that one come easy.
Unlike other sports, the entire NASCAR series is tied to its title sponsor. It is at the core of the sport’s identity and branding.
Undoubtedly, many NASCAR fans will want the sport to get back to its roots and repartner with the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company who sponsored the Winston Cup Series for over 30 years. But partnering with a cigarette company won’t mesh with the sport’s television partners.
Whatever route NASCAR chooses, it will have a profound affect on their fans, one not seen in other sports when it comes to sponsors.
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