It was only a few weeks ago that word came one of the biggest names in NASCAR was losing one of his longtime sponsors. Don’t worry if you are a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr!
Word has now come that one of his part time sponsors for 2015 is stepping up their game to be the main sponsor.
The No. 88 car will sport the colors and logo of Nationwide Insurance starting in 2015 with a few select races during the end of the 2014 season. Fans got a taste of the new paint scheme this past weekend during the race weekend at Richmond.
The news comes only a few short weeks after Earnhardt learned that his long-time sponsorship deal with the National Guard would be coming to an end. Earnhardt was not the only driver given the boot by the National Guard. The announcement from the Guard on their website also included INDYcar driver Graham Rahal.
The good news for Earnhardt is that the Nationwide Insurance Company had already made plans to not sponsor the second tier series in NASCAR racing. That left the door open for the company to put their marketing power behind Earnhardt. The driver and company have been associated for years on TV commercials. A sponsorship deal seems like a natural fit according to a statement from the team which included remarks from Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer at Nationwide.
"We're thrilled to be deepening our partnership with the Hendrick Motorsports team," Jauchius said. "We look forward to seeing Nationwide on the No. 88 for NASCAR's biggest races over the next three seasons."
Team owner Rick Hendrick could have found himself in a tight spot with the decision of the National Guard to pull out of sponsorships. The move was a quick one that left the team in a scramble to find more companies to pair with Earnhardt’s car. It’s probably true that a popular driver such as Earnhardt would not have had too much trouble finding a sponsor.
In a sport where sponsors pay the bills it’s a nice thing to know that your team is funded! Hendrick said in the statement that it was a positive that Nationwide had already decided to increase the amount of the deal.
"That Nationwide has already elected to grow the sponsorship sends a clear message about the opportunities they see and how well our teams are working together," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "It's quickly become a strong relationship, and we're committed to building on that foundation and delivering results in every facet of the program."
When Nationwide and Hendrick Motorsports started talking publicly about the new part time deal for Earnhardt the number of races mentioned was only 12 during the 2015 season with a possibility of a handful in 2014. That number, under the original agreement, increased to 16 races in both 2016 and 2017.
Under the new agreement Nationwide Insurance steps up from being an associate sponsor to the main sponsor for the No. 88 team. The company will sponsor Earnhardt for 21 races during the next three years.