Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Budweiser to GEM/Kahne, Reutimann Still Twisting

It’s official. Budweiser announced this morning that Kasey Kahne will drive a red Budweiser Dodge on the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"Budweiser has a long and storied history with NASCAR and some of its most successful drivers. We're excited about Kasey's ability to add to that outstanding lineage," said Tony Ponturo, Vice President of Global Media and Sports Marketing for Anheuser-Busch. "Along with team owners George Gillett and Ray Evernham, we feel the pieces are in place for the #9 Budweiser Dodge to contend for NASCAR Sprint Cup championships for years to come."

Kahne, meanwhile, said he is excited to be chosen to carry on Budweiser’s long tradition of NASCAR sponsorship. "The fan in me is thrilled because driving for Budweiser is the kind of opportunity you dream of when you break into this sport. I'm excited about getting behind the wheel of a car that's been driven by some of the best this sport has seen," he said.

Bud began its NASCAR sponsorship run in 1993 on the then NASCAR Winston Cup Series. They have backed such notable drivers as Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and (most recently) Dale Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser is also the "Official Beer of NASCAR," and sponsors the Bud Pole Award in all NASCAR divisions, along with the annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.

Gillett-Evernham Motorsports co-owner Ray Evernham will join us today at 6 p.m. ET to talk about the new deal.

Franchitti To Test At Talladega: Dario Franchitti will test a Chip Ganassi-owned car at Talladega later this month, in preparation for the ARCA race there on October 5.

Ganassi said Sunday in New Hampshire that Franchitti will take part in an open test on September 27, before taking part in his first stock car race in early October. Ganassi declined to comment on plans to put the 2007 Indy Racing League champion in his#40 Nextel Cup Series Dodge beginning with next year’s Daytona 500, but sources say an official announcement could come as early as this week.

Reutimann Still On The Fence: David Reutimann said this weekend that he expects to receive a contract proposal from Michael Waltrip Racing within the next few days, despite reports that neither Burger King nor Dominos Pizza will return to the #00 Toyota next season.

Waltrip has said that he plans to continue fielding a three-car Sprint Cup team next season, and that he has verbal commitments from both Reutimann and Dale Jarrett to return, if sponsorship can be obtained. He acknowledged that he has no signed contracts in hand, and Reutimann said he has not yet received even a written proposal from Waltrip. Last weekend, he called re-signing with Waltrip, “a solid option,” but said he cannot rule out moving to another team.

Reutimann is rumored to be in the running for a proposed fourth Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, after RCR extended its own self-imposed deadline to find sponsorship for the car until the end of this month.

Saddle Up The Ponies: NASCAR is reportedly giving serious thought to converting its #2 series in a so-called “Pony Car” series, as soon as 2009.

Sources say the Daytona Beach sanctioning body has received positive feedback from its teams about giving the series a new and unique look, by changing to the sportier Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger sheetmetal for the 2009 season. Toyota will run an as-yet undetermined model.

No official decision has yet been made, but response to the idea in the Busch Series garage has reportedly been overwhelmingly positive.

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