Top sponsor leaves RCR for Penske
A major NASCAR sponsor is trading places in 2011.
Shell-Pennzoil, which has been a primary sponsor of Richard Childress Racing since 2007, is leaving the team at the end of the year to sponsor Kurt Busch at Penske Racing.
Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champion, will drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in 2011. He was set to become a prized free agent at the end of the season, but this deal ensures he will stay at Penske beyond 2010.
As a result, Busch will vacate the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Sources told FOXSports.com that one scenario mentioned has Brad Keselowski moving into the vacant ride.
The multi-year deal for Shell-Pennzoil also includes associate sponsorship on Penske’s three-car IZOD IndyCar Series team. It also creates a business-to-business relationship with both Penske Automotive Group and Dodge. PAG is the second-largest publicly traded retailer in the U.S. and operates 316 retail automotive franchises.
Shell made its debut on Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet for the 2007 Daytona 500, which Harvick went on to win. During the sponsor’s association with RCR, Harvick qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup twice and is on pace to reach the postseason again, as he’s currently fourth in the standings.
Childress said this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway he hopes to re-sign Harvick sometime this week. Certainly, driver plans must be solidified before the organization courts new sponsors for the No. 29 team.
RCR issued a statement Wednesday expressing his disappointment in the move.
“Shell and Pennzoil have been great partners with Richard Childress Racing since our first race together, when Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team won the Daytona 500 in 2007," Childress' statement said. "I’m disappointed that our partnership will conclude at the end of the year but understand some of the reasons that went into their business decision. RCR will continue to provide Shell-Pennzoil the highest caliber program possible, keeping in sharp focus the ultimate goal of winning the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. What this creates for RCR is the opportunity for a new partner to forge its own relationship and identity with Kevin Harvick and the championship-level team led by crew chief Gil Martin, our other race teams and drivers, and our other 35 partners. The No. 29 team has had only two primary sponsors since it began in 2001 but the number 3 has played a significant role at RCR for decades. We feel strongly that the third chapter of the No. 29 team’s partnership history will be a successful one.”