It’s not even that Miller, which had been one of the few full-season sponsors remaining in NASCAR, will be cutting back to only 24 races next year.
No, the real surprise is that the cutback was apparently Roger Penske’s idea.
"We looked at going into markets twice, in fact, it was my idea,” Penske bragged. “Let us have those markets we go into a second time and give us a chance to bring in another world-class company. We have a number of people very interested in getting on with Brad."
Miller insists it will spend the same amount of money next year in NASCAR by increasing its at-track activation – things like the fan midway. Maybe run a few more commercials. Great.
Penske is banking on (and he must already have it in the bank) being able to replace Miller with a sponsor (or several sponsors) willing to spend even more money for those 12 races than he would get from the beer company.
Everybody wins, right?
Wrong. The fans lose.
Sponsor continuity has all but disappeared in NASCAR and that’s shame. It used to be that you couldn’t tell the players without a scorecard. Now you can’t even tell the players with last week’s scorecard.
Is the Blue Duce your car? Well forgetaboutit. If they’re very lucky, maybe fans of the No. 2 car will also be able to cheer for the Grey Goose next year.
I understand that teams and sponsors have had to adjust to the realities of today’s economy and that multiple primary sponsors has become the reality for most teams. Nobody had more paint schemes this year than Ryan Newman, with eight different primary sponsors. And even those sponsors changed their graphics from week-to-week.
But I don’t understand why Penske, one of the richest men in America, would want to do it on purpose for a little more money.
Humpy Wheeler, long considered one of the best promoters in NASCAR, told me a while ago that multiple primary sponsors was one of the big disconnects between the series and its fans.
“You need a GPS to find Dale Earnhardt (Jr.),” Wheeler said. “One week he’s in the National Guard car. Last week he was in the AMP car and next week he’s in the Mountain Dew car. There’s no continuity. The NFL doesn’t let you change uniforms. Even if it’s a nostalgia type thing, the Chicago Bears are the same color, week in and week out.”
He’s got a point.
I wonder if dumping a sponsor can be considered conduct detrimental to the sport?