Three-time and defending NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will not have current co-primary sponsor Office Depot in 2013.
The company sponsored 22 of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup races with Stewart this season. Mobil 1, which is returning, sponsored the other 16.
Stewart-Haas Racing spokesman Mike Arning said Office Depot may return to the team in a different role.
“The 14 car still has Mobil 1 coming back …," he said at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "And again, they’re not returning as the primary sponsor of the No. 14 car, but SHR and Office Depot are in discussions in regard to some sort of potential role the company could have with the team, but it won’t be in the same scope that it’s been since the team was formed in ’09,” he said at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The decision “came pretty recently,” Arning added, “so there’s certainly a sense of urgency and a good bit of work that needs to done between now and the start of next year.”
That applies not only to Stewart, but also to the organization’s No. 39 team driven by Ryan Newman. The US Army announced in July that it would not return to a primary sponsor role with that team, so Arning said that “negotiations with all the current partners are ongoing as well as (those with) potential partners to fill out the 39 car, too.”
Newman has not signed a contract with the team for next season, but both the team and Newman have indicated they are working toward remaining together.
On the track, Stewart and Newman are both in the battle for Chase for the Sprint Cup berths. Stewart is currently 10th in the points standings with three wins and is virtually guaranteed a spot in the field. Newman is 15th in the standings, with one win, and is the midst of a heated battle for a wild-card berth. There are two races remaining before the Chase field is set.