Off The Normal Topics: NASCAR



Word is circulating that FedEx will sponsor the #99 of Jeff Burton starting in 04'. This is rumor and not fact yet but have heard from friends that FedEX has been fishing after the success UPS has had with NASCAR. Stay tuned for Sports at 6!

We now return to our regular programming of hourlies wailing about management and management wailing about hourlies. Ain't life grand?


FedEx may not be able to get involved.............

Roush boss says that "lockout' has become a four-letter word
Nextel and other no-competition deals putting teams in bind with sponsors
By Mike Mulhern
Monday, October 20, 2003


While several NASCAR team owners are struggling to land sponsors, Geoff Smith said that Roush Racing is doing just fine, thank you.

"Over the next four weeks we'll have five to seven sponsorships to announce. We've had a real good year. Notwithstanding everyone else's lament, we're doing fabulous," Smith said.

Of the possible sixth and seventh sponsors, Smith says "We are red-hot on one, medium-hot on two, and warm on three. So I'm optimistic we'll close."

However, Smith says there is a troubling new problem facing team owners in this sport: lockout.

"What's been going on in the garage is there has been a huge movement toward lockout," Smith said. "That's what we complained about with Nextel and AT& --T."

NASCAR is barring Nextel's corporate competitors from sponsoring Winston Cup teams, except for the Richard Childress and Roger Penske teams, which are grandfathered in. AT& --T wanted to become a full Cup sponsor next season, with either DEI or Roush, but NASCAR said no.

"The problem goes on at other levels too, like the UPS level," Smith said. "You come in to sponsor a team, and then you make deals with the tracks to where no one else can market at the track, and you make deals with NASCAR that no one else can be an official sponsor.

"The environment used to be open, and there was room for sponsors to go head-to-head. But it's increasingly difficult for competing sponsors to come in. A sponsor might come in and put its name on the car but then find out it can't market at the race track.

"That's a deal that also going on in TV - television lockout rights. You make a deal for advertising with a network: "I'm going to guarantee you $10 million in ads, but I don't want my competitor being on the same broadcast. So if you want my $10 million, keep my competitor off.'

"This lockout mentality is everywhere in our sport.... except among race team owners, who say "Come on in.'

"This trend, which has been occurring now for five or six years, is a dangerous trend. I say this at almost every opportunity I can. But until there are 20 teams without sponsorship....

"As long as there are 43 teams competing, there is not necessarily a reason to attempt to alter the trend. But when you see the number of Winston Cup, Busch and Truck teams without sponsors, you really have to take an objective look at the dynamics in our market place that are creating that. You have to be willing to look at every fact objectively. And I have been worried about this lockout mentality for a number of years.

"All we can do is share our concern. It's only a concern, but it is a concern because you see strategic elements in the air that you know will have a probability of coming to bear in a way that's harmful to you. And that may have occurred with some other teams. But Roush Racing will be making five sponsor announcements in the next month, and we've already sold six sponsorships this year. The only thing that's harmed us - and it's a big one - is the AT& --T-Nextel deal. We were in the mix for a sale to take place and we lost it because of that (NASCAR ban).

"But we'll lose things for different conflicts. There is a sponsor we wanted last year in the Truck series,, that NASCAR said no to, and now it's a sponsor in the CART series."

Richard Childress is looking for a Busch driver, after deciding not to renew Johnny Sauter's contract, and Silver Crown racer Michael Lewis got the first tryout, in Saturday's Busch race at Memphis.

"He'd never sat in any kind of stock car until last weekend, when we tested," said Bobby Hutchens, general manager for Childress. "He's got a lot of promise, a lot of raw driving talent - a very smart kid. Anything he learned, he learned the first time, and we didn't have to go back and redo it. That was positive.

"The biggest shortfall is he just doesn't have much experience racing around these cars. That was hard for him to get used to. But he got better. And in the race he was getting better, until he got wrecked.

"This is something we don't normally do, but some people felt very highly about him and wanted to see him get an opportunity in some good equipment. We'll evaluate where we're at and what the next step may be. I'd like to see him get a shot at doing something."

Whoever Childress hires for the Busch team will split duties with Kevin Harvick. "We thought Michael might be that person, but right now that's probably not a viable option," Hutchens said. "A year from now, maybe."

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