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Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush are now looking for a new $20 million sponsor....

  Going, going, gone.....(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


    And the hits just keep on coming: NASCAR got another blow Tuesday when Diageo announced it would be ending its Sprint Cup sponsorship of Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush at the end of the season.
   That follows last week's announcement that Red Bull would be shaking up its NASCAR operation for 2012.

    Diageo is the world's largest producer of alcoholic beverages.
   The Diageo marketing boss, Yvonne Briese, in a statement, said the company would be "shifting our strategy," and would thus "end our sponsorships with Roush Fenway Racing and NASCAR."
   One of Diageo's more innovative promotions was its race sponsorship at Richmond International Raceway, which promoted military heroes. In the statement Briese said "We look forward to elevating this program as well as continuing our presence in the sport through an experience that our fans have grown to love.   The specific details regarding how we will honor these heroes at next year's entitlement will be announced at a later date."
    What precisely the cut in sponsorship entails is unclear, except that Kenseth and Roush are now looking for a new sponsorship.
    What Diageo may do with its Richmond sponsorship seems up in the air:  "In evaluation of our NASCAR programming and after much consideration," Briese said, "we have made the decision to make a strategic shift to focus our resources against our annual Crown Royal "Your Name Here" program (at the Richmond track), which awards race naming rights to an adult fan.
   "The Your Name Here program has provided NASCAR fans with an experience that is unrivaled in sports and in recent years has shed light on some of the remarkable military servicemen and servicewomen who proudly serve our country."
   Steve Newmark, who as new president of Roush Fenway is the point man on the sponsorship front, offered a brief statement:
   "We are obviously disappointed with the news, but first we would like to thank Diageo and Crown Royal for a terrific partnership that has spanned almost a decade. They have been a first-class partner all the way around. We look forward to finishing out the season with them....
    "It's unfortunate that they will not be able to continue to be a part of our organization. Fortunately, our race programs are operating at a higher level than ever. The No. 17 (Kenseth team) is an attractive, championship-winning program with a storied history and Matt Kenseth an elite driver. We have already opened the door for discussions and are currently in the process of speaking with companies interested in taking over the program for next season and beyond."

   Matthew Hansen stands on the logo in the infield for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond International Raceway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

The fact that it still takes

The fact that it still takes $20 million to be an upper echelon Cup team is saddening. The introduction of the COT was supposed to cut costs for teams and help out some of the lesser teams by making it more affordable to race at the Cup level, and to help make the B and C level teams even more competitive. It hasn't really happened. The Big 4 teams are going to win most of the races under any set of rules, but the fact that there are now only 31 full time teams with the new car rules is what's really concerning especially when the Top 35 are guaranteed a starting spot. Couple that with Roush and Penske having trouble finding sponsorships, and it's not a pretty picture. The racing is as good as ever, but if the sponsorships and number of teams keep dwindling, that's going to change.

And i've just been thinking,

And i've just been thinking, it's not just the $20M a year sponsorship, it's that you have to sign a three-year deal (or more if you can get it), which makes it $60M, and then on top of that you've got to spend a lot of money (usually dollar for dollar) to 'activate' the sponsorship with billboards and signage and tv ads and all that....and pretty soon you're looking at a $100M deal a CEO has to agree to. dont know what cnbc's cramer would think about spending that kind of money on nascar marketing.....

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