Hendrick bolsters Dale Jr.’s sponsor lineup for 2016
Axalta, which is picking up three extra races as a primary sponsor with the Hendrick organization, will also be featured as a major associate sponsor during all non-primary events.
“It helped fill out the car,” Earnhardt Jr. said of Axalta moving to the No. 88 team. "We seem to have a half dozen races that don’t get filled up (with a primary sponsor), so it’s good. With the addition of Chase (Elliott, Jeff Gordon’s successor in the No. 24) and NAPA coming on board, it really fills out the four (Hendrick) cars. To move the Axalta deal over to our car, they’re excited so we’re excited. It’s going to be fun. We’re sort of in the middle of designing the car. It’ll be pretty bright with a lot of neon and fluorescents, so it should be a fun little car."
“I like the neons and the bright colors," he said. "(Paul) Menard’s kind of got the market on the yellow. We’ve come up with some pretty decent ideas, and I like the direction we’re going right now with the car. We’re mainly working with yellow, orange and red, and having that with a fade effect on the car. There’s going to be an associate, because Axalta has a lot of associates they work with. You see that on the quarter-panel of Jeff’s car. They’ll be on our cars.
"Every time we run Axalta they’ll probably be paired up into the paint scheme somewhere on the quarter-panel or decklid, and they’ll have a color, as well, that they want to incorporate into the paint schemes. So that’s going to be a bit of a challenge. There’s not really going to be any throwback inspiration on this car, but it’s certainly going to be pretty bright and pretty cool.”
Earnhardt’s relationship with PepsiCo will also continue for the 2016 season, but the brands that will be represented on the car will likely shift.
“It’s sort of going back to being branded as Mountain Dew," he said. "It’s not necessarily going away from Diet Dew. Every time we run a PepsiCo car, it’s never the same thing. We’ve done the Diet Dew, something with AMP, maybe Kickstart. We’ll have four or five paintouts with that car and they all might be different. As an associate, when you see the Axalta car or the Nationwide car or the TaxSlayer car, you’ll see a Mountain Dew logo on the quarter-panel instead of Diet Dew next year. But we’ll probably run a Diet Dew car somewhere fully branded. They have a whole new way of doing it, but they’re not backing down any. They have the same number of paintouts as this year.”
For most of Gordon’s career, DuPont Performance Coatings was one of the many DuPont divisions that supported the No. 24 Chevrolet. Axalta acquired that DuPont subsidiary in February 2013, after which Axalta replaced DuPont as one of Gordon’s primary sponsors.
Gordon, who is in his final full-time Sprint Cup campaign, will continue to work with Axalta as a spokesperson and global business advisor. The multi-year relationship with the four-time champion was announced earlier this year.
"We began a journey 23 years ago with Hendrick Motorsports and a young driver named Jeff Gordon. Eighty poles, 92 wins and four championships later, we are proud of the run we’ve had with Jeff," said Nigel Budden, Axalta vice president and head of its North America business. "Now, we are delighted to continue our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and to adorn the hood of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevy SS with the Axalta logo in 2016. As our slogan says, ‘We Paint Winners,’ and by joining Dale we will continue to do so for years to come."
Axalta has hosted thousands of customers at events and fashioned some of the most iconic paint schemes in NASCAR history. Earlier this month, Hendrick Motorsports and Axalta broke ground on Axalta’s 45,000-square-foot Customer Experience Center that will be located on the Hendrick campus in Concord, North Carolina.
"Axalta has built a model sponsorship program," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "For 23 years, they’ve recognized the opportunities NASCAR provides and understood how it drives value for their business. It’s a unique relationship that’s evolved with the times and has been consistently effective. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished as partners and look forward to more successes together with Dale and the No. 88 team."
Earnhardt, 40, has 25 career Sprint Cup victories, including two this season. The Kannapolis, North Carolina native recently clinched a fifth consecutive appearance in the championship-deciding Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
"Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports have an incredible story," Earnhardt said. "For me, it’s meaningful to work with a sponsor that’s been so committed to our sport and has such a rich history in NASCAR. Continuing the partnership is special for all of us, and I’m already excited about what the car will look like. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity."