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NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Notes and Quotes - Monday, Jan. 24
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Sponsor Announcements
During a lunch presentation on the first day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, officials from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (EGR) made several new announcements concerning sponsors and the 2011 season.
Acting as emcee for the event, television broadcaster Larry McReynolds confirmed that Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray will again drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for EGR in 2011. Montoya, driving the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, marks his third consecutive season with the team. McMurray will start his second season in the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/McDonald’s Chevrolet. Last year the teammates secured a record four victories for the organization in a single season.
EGR welcomed companies WIDIA (pronounced VEE-dee-uh) and LiftMaster, both of whom are new to NASCAR competition. WIDIA, a manufacturer of precision machine tools, will assume sponsorship of McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet when he makes his 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in the April 3 race at Martinsville Speedway. Garage door-opener manufacturer LiftMaster has signed a multi-year associate sponsorship agreement with EGR for placement on McMurray’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car.
Energizer to Light Up the Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway
During the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing presentation, Gail Taylor, manager of shopper marketing with longtime EGR sponsor Energizer, detailed that company’s “Light Up the Night” event that will take place during the May 21 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Energizer, with the help of fans in attendance at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, will attempt to set a world record for shining the most flashlights simultaneously in a sporting arena. Energizer will distribute thousands of its LED Headlights and ask fans to “flash their brights” during pre-race activities. Representatives from Guinness World Records will record and judge the “Light Up the Night” event.
Energizer will also make a donation to Charlotte-area disaster response groups to help them prepare for hurricane season.
Stewart Haas Racing Has Momentum, Expectations for New Season
The NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway paid a visit to Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) on Monday afternoon. SHR drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, along with their respective crew chiefs Darien Grubb and Tony Gibson, and Director of Competition Bobby Hutchins, talked about the teams’ 2011 Sprint Cup season outlook.
Stewart opened the session by talking about the team’s development as it entered its third season.
“Last year I think we all started feeling a lot more comfortable in knowing what to expect,” Stewart said. “It’s definitely not easy for sure, but we have Bobby Hutchins leading this for us. We have some great crew chiefs in Darien Grubb and Tony Gibson. And I have a great teammate with Ryan (Newman). Those are the key ingredients that you have to have.”
Newman echoed Stewart’s sentiments.
“We are just continuing to build,” he said. “We’re working hard on our race cars. I had a good year last year and am looking forward to this year to start off strong. That’s one thing we haven’t done as a team. To start the season off with the Daytona 500 is a good opportunity. We had some fun down there with testing and I’m looking forward to the entire speedweeks.”
Grubb relayed some of his thoughts on last week’s Daytona testing and the new Chevrolet nose the teams will have this season.
“This is a good time for us,” he said. ”The program we have has gotten so strong. The competition level is so high and I think we have a leg up on this year. We have a leg up with Mobil 1 and their technology. We have been trying to pay attention to our downforce. We are working on fuel. We have the new E85 coming this year. We need to make sure we get the mileage and performance when we get down to Daytona.”
Gibson addressed the No. 39 Chevrolet team’s preparation for 2011.
“One of the biggest things we have been working on is our aero department,” he said. “Chevrolet has done a great job. We have spent time in the (wind) tunnel. It’s been a huge benefit for us.”
For Hutchins, the logistics of all these changes presents a challenge.
“The engineering department has really been working hard getting ready for 2011,” he said. “They have been out in Phoenix at the Chevrolet proving grounds working on our speedway program. They were at the General Motors facility in Michigan working on parts and pieces. Mobil1 and Wix Filters and their technical departments have helped us in the transition over the off season. This will hopefully make our end product better on Sundays. Everyone here wants to make our third season the most successful yet.”
SHR picked up the Mobil1 sponsorship on Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet in select races in 2011. Most of the team’s other partners returned for the 2011 season, including Office Depot, Burger King, Tornados, U.S. Army, Haas Automation and Wix Filters.
Quotes of the Day
Steve Lauletta, president of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, on returning sponsor Target, which has been with the organization for 22 seasons: “Obviously 2010 was a successful year for us. That had an effect on the impact we could offer to our partners. That was proven by a “Sports Business Journal” image impact study that listed the top 12 drivers who provided brand exposure for their sponsors. Only two of the 12 drivers did not make the Chase [for the NASCAR Sprint Cup]. Those were Juan Pablo Montoya in fourth place and Jamie McMurray in ninth place.”
Tony Stewart on 2011: “I am really excited about getting a new season under way. We have some great partners here with our sponsors this year. All of them are what makes this possible. These great companies are what makes us a family."