Nationwide begins to change its sponsorships

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nationwide will end its seven-year run as sponsor of NASCAR’s second-largest series at the end of the 2014 season and refocus its motorsports spending to other areas of the industry.

Nationwide plans to spend more on track sponsorships and in the Sprint Cup Series, where it recently funded the car of two-time Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Bristol and Richmond. Nationwide has a three-race commitment with Stenhouse this season, and has agreed to sponsor four Sprint Cup races next year.

DIFFERENT SCENARIO: Many believe the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship was developed in response to Matt Kenseth’s 2003 championship that included just one race victory.

Now there won’t be any controversy if he wins this year’s championship. Ken­seth has a series-best six victories – and an eight-point lead over Kyle Busch in the playoffs – as he heads to Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“There’s certainly no apologies for the way we won that championship,” Kenseth said. “We had an unbelievable season that year. We didn’t have the fastest cars, led the most laps, but we were consistently in the top five and had really, really good finishes, really good teamwork that whole entire year.”

The Chase was put in place the next year with NASCAR placing a greater emphasis on winning races by awarding bonus points.

BUSCH PARKS PLANS: Now that Kurt Busch is in the Chase, he’s put his plans to drive in the IRL IndyCar Series season finale on hold.

Busch, who already has participated in an NHRA drag race, wants to focus solely on helping his Furniture Row Racing team win the championship.

He also failed to find the sponsorship that would allow him to order a Chevrolet engine for the race Oct. 17 at Auto Club Speedway.

The itch to drive an IndyCar was strongest in May during the Indianapolis 500, Busch said. But now that it’s September and NASCAR is in its playoffs, he admitted the urgency to drive at Auto Club has waned.

His new car owner for 2014, Tony Stewart, has competed in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day. That still intrigues Busch.

A FATHER’S WORTH: Paul Menard enjoys unique job security at Richard Childress Racing because he father has the deepest pockets of anyone associated with NASCAR.

According to Forbes.com, John Menard is worth $7.5 billion. His home improvement warehouse stores throughout the Midwest helped him move to 57th on the list of the world’s 400 richest people.

The company also serves as the primary sponsor on his son’s race car.

Jim France, the son of NASCAR founder Bill France, is 273rd at $2 billion, while John Henry, a co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, is 327th at $1.7 billion.

Legendary car owner Roger Penske, who also owns dealerships and truck rental companies, is 386th with $1.3 billion.


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