By: Aaron Blake, @aaronmblake_
As the final Sprint sponsored Cup season came to a close in November 2016, NASCAR was on track to find and cultivate a new sponsor and all around mojo. In came Monster Energy, who has now taken over as the title sponsor for NASCAR by renaming the series and even revamping the logo for the first time in 40 years.
The move to Monster Energy serves as the third sponsor change in the sport’s history and one that NASCAR's leadership is excited about.
“Monster has built its brand on racing and motorsports,” said NASCAR CEO Brian France “and NASCAR is the pinnacle of motorsports in America.”
On top of the NASCAR brand sponsorship, Monster has stakes in Motocross and even the No. 41 car of the Stewart-Haas team; which will continue to run the Monster Energy Ford Fusion in 2017.
The details of NASCAR’s deal with Monster Energy include a two-year deal with a two-year option worth around $20 million each year. According to Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, these numbers would make the deal worth more than 2.5x less than the deal Sprint had.
In addition to naming rights, Monster will also usurp Coca-Cola as the official drink of the sport.
With the new season right around the corner, the toughest task becomes getting fans adjusted to the new sponsor and all of the changes that come with it, some of them being the first changes in over four decades.
With demographics that most of NASCAR's fans to be over 35, the change in title sponsors could help draw in more of the younger crowd that every league and sport is fighting for.
The brand value of Monster and who their following is could have been a key reason for the new partnership as even in France’s interview he described Monster as edgy and ‘fun’, nine times.
With the Daytona 500 looming in February, only time will tell as to the success of the new sponsorship.
Stewart-Haas Racing's Move to Ford Fusions
As mentioned above, Stewart-Haas Racing (co-owned by former champion Tony Stewart) will continue to run the Monster Energy car in 2017. The biggest news out of four car team, that now includes two champions, is that starting this season they will run Ford Fusions instead of the Chevrolet SS model.
With the change, they will no longer be a satellite team of Hendrick Motorsports and will now receive Roush Yates Engines equipment; who caters to the Ford driven teams.
The competitiveness of SHR will increase the demand in parts from Roush Yates, and do Ford better all around.
Since 2009, SHR has won 31 races and two championships in 2011 and 2014. Ford however, has not won a championship since Team Penske in 2012.
With the addition of SHR, Ford will field four top charter teams in 2017 and have the ability to better compete for the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup title.
When asked, 2014 NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick stated he is cautiously optimistic about the transition but expects there to be bumps along the road, “I couldn’t ask for a better group of people. It’s a bunch of racers, and I think it’s going to be a long winter, but with a group of racers like we have, we should hopefully fire off where we have been.”
The retirement of Tony Stewart will land Clint Bowyer, Harvick’s former teammate at Richard Childress Racing, and previous H-Scott team in the No. 14 car.