Stewart confirms new sponsor deal

Bass Pro Shops has finally caught a big fish.

As first reported on Sept. 13, Bass Pro Shops will sponsor defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2013. BPS will be the primary sponsor for 18 races, including the Daytona 500.

Stewart is already familar with Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris.

“We got introduced to each other and became friends and then we just started doing things to work together whether it was the Sprint car or every year at the Prelude (to the Dream) and it’s just grown over the years,” said Stewart of his relationship with the founder. “There was never really an opportunity like this to do something together until now. It’s a dream come true for me and I think Johnny feels that way.

“The best part is it’s not just a new partnership. It’s a friendship that developed into a partnership and that’s something that makes this so unique versus other deals that you see out there.”

After 10 successful seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart, now 41, started his own NASCAR effort with Gene Haas. In 2009, Stewart-Haas Racing was formed. Although Stewart has enjoyed tremendous success – including the 2011 Cup title – and prosperity with a wealth of sponsors, Office Depot opted not to renew its contract for next season.

Mobil One will continue to support the No. 14 Chevrolet for an additional 11 races in 2013. Still, SHR is nine races short of a full season of sponsorship despite the fact that Stewart is currently fifth in the Sprint Cup points standings and has 47 career Cup wins, including three this season.

“We’re very proud to be the primary sponsor for Tony Stewart and the No. 14 car,” Morris said. “The economy is rough. Every company, every family, everybody has to watch our budgets in this economy. As a private company, we have a very long-term view about investment and how we look for the long-term future of the business and how we make investments.

“NASCAR is not cheap, but we look back over the years and how it’s built our brand – Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats – and our brands are very important to us and our company. Recently, Bass Pro Shops was named one of the top hottest brands in America by Advertising Age magazine … and there’s no doubt that our involvement with racing and NASCAR was a big part of building our brands. …

“When we see someone like Tony, who has such a huge influence on young people especially – mostly a good influence – if these kids see how much he loves to hunt and fish, then maybe it will put a little spark in their heart that maybe they want to spend more time to fish and hunt.”

Bass Pro Shops’ relationships in NASCAR date back to 2004, when the outdoor retailer provided limited support to Martin Truex Jr. in the Nationwide Series at Dale Earnhardt Inc. The following season, BPS stepped up its involvement for full-time sponsorship with Truex when he won the Nationwide title. The pair joined forces for the driver’s rookie Cup year in 2006, then BPS became part of the DEI and Ganassi Racing merger in 2009.

Bass Pro Shops remained at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing when Truex left the company in 2010 and enjoyed great success with new driver Jamie McMurray, who won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Charlotte fall race together.

Currently, McMurray is 20th in the points standings and Morris said Bass Pro Shops will continue to support EGR on a limited basis. The company will also support current Camping World Truck Series points leader Ty Dillon. Morris also has a long-standing relationship with Richard Childress Racing and said he will move forward with sponsoring both Ty and Austin Dillon, the grandsons of team owner Richard Childress.