It took 22 years for Miller Lite to make it to the top of NASCAR, and Brad Keselowski made it worth the wait when he cheerfully chugged the beer from on oversized glass during a live televised interview while celebrating his first Sprint Cup championship last November.
It was an iconic moment in the relationship between Penske Racing and MillerCoors, one that spans more than 30 years and ranks among the longest in sports.
Now it’s guaranteed to continue at least another four years as Penske on Wednesday revealed multiyear extensions with both Keselowski and Miller Lite through the 2017 season.
It’s the second contract extension for the defending Sprint Cup champion in less than two years.
The new MillerCoors contract covers just 24 races on the No. 2 Ford instead of the full 36-race schedule Miller Lite had always sponsored. But both Penske and Andy England, the MillerCoors chief marketing officer, said the 12-race giveback was at Penske’s request.
LOOKING FOR A RIDE: Sam Hornish Jr. is five races away from a possible NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. His reward, however, might be the unemployment line.
Hornish has a four-point lead over Austin Dillon heading into Saturday’s Dollar General 300 at Kansas Speedway.
As he tries to give Penske his second Nationwide championship, he knows he doesn’t have anything lined up for next year.
But the former Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time IndyCar Series champion knows one thing for sure: he wants to stay in NASCAR.
“I don’t see myself doing that,” he told RacinToday.com. about returning to IndyCar racing.
Hornish’s position isn’t based on performance, he said.
It’s all about money. Penske now is more committed to 19 year-old Ryan Blaney in the Nationwide Series, and that doesn’t leave any other openings within the organization.
Hornish now is talking to other teams. He said many competitors were surprised to hear he was about to become a free agent.
Nobody was more surprised than Hornish.
“There’s not a whole lot of anything out there when I was told this,” he said.
TRACK EXPANSION A BOON: According to Washington Economics Group, the expansion at Daytona International Speedway could be worth as much as $1.6 billion to state and local economies.
DAYTONA Rising is a four-year project to overhaul the main grandstands at the iconic racetrack. During construction, it will add 6,300 jobs, most of them construction workers, to the area; more than $300 million in labor income; more than $85 million in new federal, and state and local tax revenues.
After it’s completed, it will help generate more than $241 million in federal, state and local revenues.
PIT STOPS: The Ford Fusion will get a nose job in time for the 2014 season. NASCAR approved a new nose that pushes the front grille area out to keep trash from clogging up the air flow. The current grille has a deeper inset than grilles for Toyota and Chevrolet, and that makes it more difficult to keep trash off the grille ... Furniture Row Racing and driver Kurt Busch hopes to go to the mattresses this Sunday at Kansas. The race team said anyone in Kansas or Missouri who buys a mattress at their Denver Mattress said in the week prior to the race will have their purchase refunded.