Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Roush Scrambling To Assemble 2012 Sponsorship

Time is running short for Roush Fenway Racing to assemble a full roster of 2012 sponsors for its four-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series effort.

First, the good news. Greg Biffle is good-to-go with sponsor 3M next season, after a contract extension was signed a few weeks ago. Roush Fenway recently inked a new, 17-race deal to put Fastenal on the side of Carl Edwards' #99 Ford next season, with Aflac expected to return for a partial schedule of events, as well. Sources say UPS is negotiating to sponsor 4-8 races with Edwards next year, and both Subway and Kellogg’s are in talks with the team about continuing their limited sponsorships for another year.

Now the bad news. Sports Business Journal reported last week that UPS will slash its involvement with Roush Fenway dramatically next season, eliminating its full-time sponsorship of David Ragan's #6 Ford in favor of a much smaller presence with Edwards. Even if UPS signs on in a limited role, the quarter panels of Edwards' title-contending #99 Ford could be empty for as much as half of next season's 36-race schedule.

Fellow championship contender Matt Kenseth currently has no sponsor signed to replace the departing Crown Royal in 2012, and Ragan's #6 Ford is sponsorless, as well. At best, it appears that RFR has sponsorship for approximately 1.75 of its four cars next season; an unenviable position to be in with just five months remaining before Speedweeks 2012 at Daytona.

“Things are getting pushed back farther and farther, and we’re still juggling," admitted Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark to SceneDaily.com Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "The goal is still to have four cars, but we don’t have clarity what it’s going to look like. We’re hopeful (UPS) will remain a key partner for us going forward, but the size and scope of that is all in discussions.

"Our goal is to have something on that in the next several weeks.”

In the past, Roush Fenway has proven adept at cobbling together multiple sponsorships to fill a season schedule. That ability will be sorely tested in the next few weeks, as they scramble to assemble backing for the 2012 campaign. With the economy continuing to struggle, there are fewer and fewer $20 million, full-season sponsors out there for the picking, forcing teams like RFR to divide the season among three or four smaller backers.

“You have to craft a program that works for the partner," admitted Newmark last week. "You sit down with the partner and talk to them about what their goals and objectives are. At the end of the day, that’s going to dictate what you do.

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