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FYI WIRZ Fast Take   By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum    Images by Drum
Fan Question Time
FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Search to Replace Sprint Takes Turns
Jimmie Johnson answers media in Charlotte, N.C.     Jimmy Vann in Tampa wants a question asked of drivers
A lot of laps and countless turns, mostly left, will happen over the next two seasons before a new title sponsor becomes a major partner with the efficient motorsports market machine honed by NASCAR.

Millions of fans and hundreds of drivers, team members and media want to know what major company will fill the $80 million boots of Sprint in NASCAR.

NASCAR fan Jimmy Vann (originally from Daytona Beach) wanted to know who is replacing Sprint as well.

It’s been this reporter’s experience with fans over the past 15 years that when seeking questions to ask NASCAR drivers, the majority are interested, but often they don’t share an actual question. Vann did. He wanted to know stars' reactions to his question.

What sponsor do you think should replace Sprint in NASCAR and why?

This reporter carried Jimmy’s question to the annual NASCAR media conference covering four intense days in downtown Charlotte during the Charlotte Motor Speedway 2015 Media Tour presented byTechnocom.


His question was well-received by drivers, team owners and TV reporters. His inquiry got many different responses that might be of interest to other fans.

This report will go beyond this one article, because so many drivers, team owners and TV media reporters responded to Jimmy’s question. Plus, this NASCAR sponsor quest is a story just revving up.

NASCAR obviously won’t disclose what companies it is engaging, or in earnest discussion with, as it is quite early in this significant title hunt. It’s moot to speculate early who will step up, as Sprint won’t be pulling its NSCS banner until December 2016. But it is constructive to share thoughts from those at the top whose future will be directly affected by NASCAR’s next title sponsor move.

The next big company taking a turn in negotiations won’t be known for many months. Some principles involved may never be disclosed.

Most answering Jimmy’s sponsor question either had no idea or didn’t want to settle on a single choice. All commented.


NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi was first to point out the requirements: “That’s above my face value. I don’t have a good answer for that. It will obviously be a big brand.”

NASCAR six-time champion Jimmie Johnson had no specific choice, but he singled out one category.

“Something that would be on the side of technology,” Johnson said. “It's what our sport thrives on. Technology is everything. It could be a software company, somewhere in that department. Technology is such a big part of what we do. Someone in tech space.”

Team owner Felix Sabates has a solid background in commerce and shared his thoughts.

“I don’t want to speculate,” Sabates said. ”I know they got other people that they are talking to. When you have a management change, an ownership shake-up in any company, the first thing they look to cut is advertising. That’s the easiest thing they can identify.”

Sabates continued with his insight: “Then six months later, ‘Ooh, I don’t believe that. We got to go back to that.’ I was in business for 40 years. I saw that happen so many times, I could cry.”

Team owner and TV commentator Michael Waltrip is no stranger to word usage and was quick to select two possibilities.

"That’s a great question,” Waltrip said. “I haven’t pondered that, butGoogle or Apple would be cool. Those are two amazing brands, andNASCAR is an amazing brand. To see those worlds come together, I’d love that.”

Fox Sports TV commentator Mike Joy was quick to answer Jimmy’s question.

“Jimmy, my hope is a big consumer products company replaces Sprint,” Joy said. “It has to be somebody that markets to all of America with a big advertising budget so they can get the NASCAR Cup Series in front of everybody age 18 and up.”

Consensus now has it that only those in the upper levels of NASCARknow the progress of any title sponsor choice. It also appears all agree it must be a significantly large company, and many point to the technology and communication industries.

Perhaps many twists and turns will take place behind NASCARmarketing walls over the coming months, and none will likely make it to public view until the timing is proper. That’s fair. Seeking and selecting a title sponsor is no easy task, but NASCAR has the tools and the right people to attract and achieve.

It’s interesting to see this process unfold and to know what many top drivers, owners and TV reporters think about selecting a replacement for Sprint—a company that delivered, turn after turn. More turns are surely coming.

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum atRacetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.

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