Another major NASCAR sponsor is exiting the sport.
5-Hour Energy is leaving Martin Truex Jr.’s team at the end of the 2018 season. 5-Hour moved to Truex’s team in 2018 as a co-primary sponsor with Bass Pro Shops after Furniture Row Racing moved from two cars to one. In 2017, the energy shot company served as a sponsor for Erik Jones at Furniture Row after parting ways with Clint Bowyer.
5-Hour entered NASCAR when it became Bowyer’s sponsor in 2012 when Bowyer joined Michael Waltrip Racing. It stayed with Bowyer through MWR’s dissolution and spent the 2016 season with the driver as he toiled at HScott Motorsports before joining Stewart-Haas Racing.
The company announced its deal with Jones in the fall of 2016, before NASCAR signed a title sponsorship deal with Monster Energy for the rights to the Cup Series. The Monster deal meant that 5-Hour’s contract with Furniture Row was still valid but it couldn’t switch teams as long as Monster had title sponsor rights.
But with NASCAR potentially redoing its title sponsor system and Monster only signed through 2019, 5-Hour wasn’t hamstrung for long. If it wanted to stay in NASCAR and potentially look for a different team, it only had to make it through next season.
Alas, it’s not. And it’s a huge blow for NASCAR. With 5-Hour’s exit, major sponsors for each of the last two Cup Series champions are now planning to leave NASCAR at the end of the season. Lowe’s previously announced that it would end its sponsorship of Jimmie Johnson at the end of 2018. The home improvement company has been the only sponsor the seven-time champion has had.
As the NASCAR’s TV audience continues to decline and costs to stay competitive rise, sponsors are trying to find value wherever they can. And, in situations like 5-Hour, Lowe’s and Target, which left NASCAR after 2017, some companies are choosing to leave the sport altogether. In a booming NASCAR economy there would be replacement companies lining up to take their places. In the 2018 NASCAR economy, there aren’t.
Chip Ganassi Racing simply moved Xfinity Series sponsor DC Solar up and got more races from Credit One Bank to help replace Target while Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t announced a replacement for Lowe’s. NASCAR’s future is very sponsor-dependent and the well of sponsors seems to be getting drier.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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