Another longtime sponsor is leaving NASCAR.
Target told the Sports Business Journal that it wouldn’t renew its sponsorship deal with Kyle Larson at the end of the season. Target had previously cut back the number of races it was sponsoring Larson in 2017.
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) July 28, 2017
The move isn’t entirely unexpected. Target, potentially the most recognizable open-wheel sponsor, left Ganassi’s IndyCar teams before the 2017 season. By cutting back on its NASCAR sponsorships, it could focus on another — and growing — sport. From SBJ:
However, amid several exec changes in recent years, the Minneapolis-based retailer has been transitioning out as it shifts to more of a soccer focus.
The company joins the likes of Home Depot, Dollar General, GoDaddy, U.S. military branches and others as longtime NASCAR sponsors who have recently left the sport. While Hendrick Motorsports recently signed Nationwide and Lowe’s to short-term extensions, the team is also looking for replacements for Farmers Insurance and Great Clips. Both companies are leaving NASCAR at the end of the season.
Target’s decision to leave racing comes as Larson has emerged as one of the top drivers in the Cup Series. He’s in second in the points standings to Martin Truex Jr. and would be just 13 points out of the top spot if it wasn’t for a 35-point penalty assessed to the team earlier this summer.
But we’re learning that financial success is more important than on-track success in modern NASCAR. As the costs of being competitive continue to rise and at-track attendance and television ratings continue to decline, it’s tougher for companies to justify sponsorships without business-to-business deals or other add-ons.
The NASCAR sponsorship landscape is changing rapidly. Who knows what it’ll look like in five years.
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