Dollar General will end its primary sponsorship of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Sprint Cup Series entry after this year and is not planning to align with a new team next year. The company, which has been with JGR since the ’12 season, currently has a 30-race deal — one of the largest in the sport — with the No. 20 Toyota driven by Matt Kenseth. It also has some track assets in NASCAR.
Dollar General in a statement noted it has enjoyed a “great partnership” with JGR, but said, “Our strategy to reallocate our future marketing assets into new programs is strictly a business decision to align our priorities to better serve our customers in this rapidly changing retail environment.” Financial terms of Dollar General’s deal could not be learned, but a deal of that magnitude with one of the sport’s more successful drivers is valued at more than $20M annually.
The Tennessee-based discount retail chain’s NASCAR program has widely been seen as a relative success in the sport, in part because it has solid vendor support from companies who sell products in Dollar General stores, which helps defray the marketing investment for Dollar General itself. It has also been a brand that has received large amounts of TV exposure due to being aligned with Kenseth, who won five races last year and is a routine top-10 finisher. Sources said that while former Dollar General Chair & CEO Rick Dreiling was a major supporter of the program, things have changed under new CEO Todd Vasos, who replaced the retiring Dreiling last year.
For JGR, Dollar General’s departure will leave a big void to fill. Though the team is almost, if not entirely, sold out of inventory for the foreseeable future for its other three Sprint Cup cars, landing 30-race deals with a single company is an increasingly tough task in the sport. JGR is expected to announce a deal or deals to fill the void that will be left by Dollar General in the next month or so. Other primary sponsors of the No. 20 include Stanley, Black & Decker and Dewalt, and it is possible that either they or sponsors of JGR’s other cars could step up to help fill the hole. Dollar General first aligned with the team when The Home Depot began reducing its support of the No. 20 — then driven by Joey Logano — in ’11. At the time, the company signed on for 12 races as primary sponsor, before increasing that to 17 in ’13, 27 in ’14, and 30 last year.
News of Dollar General’s forthcoming exit marks the first major shoe to drop in NASCAR in ’16 from a team sponsorship perspective. Other major deals that are due for a renewal after this year include Mobil 1 and Bass Pro Shops for Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 car. NASCAR has had a relatively break-even attrition rate in recent years from a major team sponsor renewal perspective, with some important brands not renewing but others entering the sport simultaneously.
It will very interesting to see if there are some other big sponsors that pull the plug and bolt from NASCAR at the end of the 2016 season.
TIL NET TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!