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Childress vs. Stewart battle could be looming

By admin | May 10, 2010

By Richard Allen

Richard Childress and Tony Stewart are two of the truly iconic names in American motorsports. Both have left a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. Each has scored race wins and championships from one end of the country to the other. However, they also share one negative commonality. At the end of the 2010 season they will each be searching for sponsorship.

It would seem as though sponsors would be lining for an opportunity to be associated with either of these two men. If that is true, each will be in need of one of those backers to step forward.

The trouble is that with today’s current economic climate and NASCAR’s waning popularity, sponsors are not exactly lining up for anyone. That is especially true when it is considered that for a company to have its name associated with a top tier Sprint Cup team the asking price is often in the $15-20 million range or more. Many companies are simply not looking to spend that type of money right now.

Childress, the legendary owner of Dale Earnhardt’s cars in the time when the ‘Intimidator’ was piling up wins and championships, recently found out that Shell/Pennzoil will be leaving his team to join that of Roger Penske.

Richard Childress Racing’s car #29, which has been driven since 2001 by Kevin Harvick, currently has no sponsor in place for 2011. This is complicated by the fact that Harvick remains unsigned past this season by the organization.

Stewart has won just about every type of race in just about every type of car imaginable. He is a two time Sprint Cup champion and the only driver to have won NASCAR’s top prize under both the old and new point systems. However, he too will need a sponsor for his #14 machine at the end of the 2010 season.

Old Spice has informed Stewart-Haas Racing they will no longer back that team’s effort once their current contract expires. The deodorant maker shares sponsorship responsibilities on the #14 Chevrolet with Office Depot.

With so few companies out there to court for such advertisement, two of the best known names in American racing will almost certainly be pitted against one another in a competition for dollars.

As of now, Budweiser and Mobil 1 appear to be among the companies available.

Budweiser currently sponsors Kasey Kahne’s Richard Petty Motorsports ride. Kahne has announced he will be leaving that team at the end of this year which possibly leaves the brewer with no one to back in 2011. Kahne will eventually end up with Hendrick Motorsports which likely means Bud will go elsewhere. Rumors have already placed the company in talks with both Childress and Stewart, but those are only rumors.

Mobil 1 will be forced off the #77 car of Sam Hornish when Shell/Pennzoil moves to Penske South Racing. Almost certainly, representatives from both organizations in question have made contact with the motor oil producer.

With so few sponsorship dollars out there to be had, even some of the biggest names in the sport’s history face the possibility of a lack of funding in 2011. A few years ago, no one would have predicted that these two giants would have to compete with each other for sponsors. Now, they most certainly are. And whenever there is competition someone typically loses. That’s something neither of these two are used to.

Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

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