ATLANTA - IRL teams received more than $227 million worth of recognition on television last year, according to Joyce Julius and Associates, Inc.
The company watches every telecast and measures the amount of noticeable visual and verbal recognition for every sponsor.
The IRL IndyCar Series had 22 telecasts during 2003 - 16 races and qualifying sessions for the Indianapolis 500 - and 672 sponsors were either mentioned or had their logos clearly shown. IRL races were shown on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.
The sponsor that got the most play was Target with 2 hours, 26 minutes, 32 seconds of camera time and 112 mentions. According the Joyce Julius' Sponsor Report, that was worth more than $12 million.
Michael Andretti's 7-Eleven sponsorship got $10.1 million in exposure, and Pennzoil was third with $6.3 million.
In all, sponsors got 47 hours, 35 minutes and 59 seconds of in-focus exposure and 2,410 sponsor mentions. The company that places value on free exposure placed a dollar value by comparing on-screen time and mentions to the cost of a 30-second commercial for that particular telecast.
"The Sponsors Report results follow directly in line with the Indy Racing League's steady growth and momentum," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL. "Sponsors are an integral part of the league's success, and we are very pleased to see our league, team, driver and event sponsors doing so well in this report."
YELEY TO GIBBS: Joe Gibbs struck gold when he hired USAC Triple Crown winner Tony Stewart to drive one of his stock cars; now he hopes to do it again with J.J. Yeley.
The car owner said Yeley, this year's champion in Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown circuits, will make selected appearances on the ARCA, NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Nextel Cup series next season as he gets ready for a full Nextel Cup Series season in 2005. The "ABC" schedule was made popular by Ryan Newman in 2001 and now seems to be the training ground of choice for the top teams.
"J.J. Yeley is a very talented racer who everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing is excited to have," Gibbs said. "He has accomplished a lot in a very short period of time in many different racing disciplines. His track record in USAC mirrors Tony Stewart's before he came to NASCAR, and Tony's time spent driving stock cars for JGR has worked out very well for him and for us. We're hoping the same is true with J.J."
NASCAR has found the USAC circuits to be the best place to find young talent. Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Newman all came from USAC.
"J.J. is the No. 1 candidate from the USAC series to move up," Stewart said. "What he can do on dirt tracks is awesome, and all year he's gotten better and better with what he's been able to do on pavement. It's just a matter of time before he gets the hang of stock cars. He's shown his adaptability since he came to USAC in 1997, and his versatility will be an asset in NASCAR."
HELP WANTED: Mike Beam has left Richard Childress Racing's No. 30 Chevrolet to become team manager at PPI Motorsports and driver Ricky Craven. Beam was Craven's crew chief before leaving for Childress.
Also, Dave Carpentier left his job as engineering manager at Dale Earnhardt Inc. to become Craven's new crew chief.
Childress is expected to promote someone from within his organization to the crew chief position. Once that's done, all Childress has to do is find a driver. Johnny Sauter, who teamed with Kevin Harvick on the Busch Series to win Childress the car owner's championship, reportedly was offered the job, but his new employer on the Busch Series, Brewco Motorsports, said it hasn't been told of any changes.
That may put Ken Schrader back in the driver's seat at RCR. Others who remain out of work or uncertain by sponsorship searches are: John Andretti, Jimmy Spencer, Steve Park, Johnny Benson and Jeff Green in the Nextel Cup Series and Jason Keller and Joey Clanton in the Busch Series.
PIT STOPS: Penske South Racing and Jasper Motorsports are considering a merger that could force driver Dave Blaney out of the No. 77 Ford. The deal reportedly would include Jasper switching to Dodges. Roger Penske said he has an interest in putting NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Brendan Gaughan in a stock car. ... As expected, Mike Ford left Evernham Motorsports for a job as Dale Jarrett's new crew chief at Robert Yates Racing. That move was necessary because crew chief Tommy Baldwin quit at Ultra Motorsports to take the same job at Evernham. The only piece of the puzzle that remains out of place is the expected retirement of Bill Elliott from a full-time schedule and the hiring of Busch Series driver Kasey Kahne as the new driver in Evernham's No. 9 Dodge.