MIKE CRANSTON, Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — NASCAR has announced Monster Energy will take over as title sponsor of its top series in 2017, ending a lengthy process of finding a replacement for Sprint.
It was not immediately announced what Corona, California-based Monster Beverage Corporation will pay for the naming rights deal or how long the agreement runs.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France made the announcement Thursday at the Wynn Las Vegas, site of Friday’s season-ending awards banquet.
Cellular company Sprint ended its 13-year run as title sponsor following the 2016 season, which ended last month with Jimmie Johnson winning his record-tying seventh series title.
NASCAR had hoped to have a new sponsor in place by early fall. The delay had produced uncertainty for a sport that has suffered attendance and television ratings declines in recent years.
The lack of a deal also led NASCAR to announce details of its 2017 season-opening non-points race at Daytona without a sponsor, something Sprint had handled in the past. Monster Energy will sponsor NASCAR’s All-Star race.
Monster’s caffeine-filled energy drinks, known for its green clawed-M logo, are targeted to young consumers and NASCAR has stressed the importance of finding younger fans.
Monster Energy was been involved in NASCAR, serving as primary sponsor of Kurt Busch’s No. 41 Cup car at Stewart-Haas Racing. It has also sponsored Kyle Busch in the Xfinity Series.
Kurt Busch said his individual sponsorship deal and long-term personal services contract with Monster will continue.
Monster created publicity this week with its logo splashed on Tiger Woods’ golf bag as he makes his return from injury in a tournament in the Bahamas. It has also been a motocross sponsor.
Monster Beverage announced last month that third quarter net sales increased 4.1 percent to $788 million from the same period a year ago. It announced a strategic partnership in 2015 that gave the Coca-Cola Company a 16.7 percent stake in Monster. The two companies share distribution networks.
Monster takes over for Sprint, which inherited the NASCAR deal when it merged with Nextel in 2008. Sprint announced in December 2014 that it would not extend the deal.
Nextel has replaced cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which had sponsored NASCAR’s top circuit since 1971 under its Winston brand. That deal ended in 2003 in part because of the tobacco settlement with the federal government that reduced the industry’s ability to advertise.
Thursday’s announcement gives NASCAR and Monster a little more than two months to prepare for the start of 2017 season, which begins with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Previous title sponsors have spent tens of millions of dollars promoting the sport.
NASCAR’s deal with Xfinity to sponsor its second-tier series runs through 2024. Camping World is on board to sponsor the third-tier trucks series through 2022.
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