Sponsor Shift: Big Partner Changes Coming for the 2016 NASCAR Season

As the offseason for the leading racing series in America fast approaches, the changes are already in motion for a number of big name sponsors. Here are just a handful of sponsors moving for the 2016 NASCAR season, and where we think the sponsor shift will land them.

 

Aaron’s
With the demise of Michael Waltrip Racing imminent, a stalwart sponsor in NASCAR prepares to exit the sport, at least for now. At one time, Aaron’s sponsored multiple races and two racecars for MWR, one in Cup and one in the former Busch Series, now Xfinity Series. Slowly, that sponsorship has been chipped away, down to one full-time Cup car, and that is set to end at the end of 2015.

The future of Aaron’s in NASCAR seems pretty black or white. On the black side, with the pattern of their partnerships wearing away in the sport, they could move that money in another direction, say towards college football. Or Aaron’s could keep to their word as said earlier in the season, by taking 2016 to evaluate and consider, and then jump back in. Certainly there will be teams and drivers who could use that big name, including up and comers like Ty Dillon and David Ragan.

 

5-Hour Energy
Another key partner of Michael Waltrip Racing will be staying in the sport for at least one more year. With Clint Bowyer announcing his move to HScott Motorsports for 2016 before taking over for the retiring Tony Stewart in 2017, 5-Hour Energy will follow him there for 24 races.

After 2016, however, an interesting predicament develops. Will 5-Hour Energy follow Bowyer to Stewart-Haas Racing, who already has another energy drink sponsor in the fold? Or will Stewart’s current sponsors stick with the #14 car, and 5-Hour will move on to another driver?

 

Monster Energy
The cat is out of the bag with this sponsor already. Kurt Busch will see increased support from Monster Energy in 2016, with them splitting sponsorship with Haas Automation on the #41 car. Spending 18 races as the primary sponsor, and the other half as secondary, it will be a pleasant sight for all to see the black and green on a winning racecar at the premier NASCAR level.

However, what changes does this leave in the wake of the announcement? Monster already provides full season support to the #54 car in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, primarily piloted by Kurt’s brother Kyle. It appears unlikely after the announcement it will continue that level of support to that car, but some support may still be given, per reports.

 

Brandt
As Clint Bowyer moves in as HScott Motorsports in 2016, Justin Allgaier and his sponsor Brandt appear to be on their way out. After providing support to Allgaier for years in the Xfinity Series and now the Cup level, it’s not all doom and gloom for the pairing.

The sponsor and driver could certainly reunite in the Xfinity Series once more. Spots have opened up at Roush-Fenway and JR Motorsports, though JRM appears more likely considering Allgaier’s recent association with the Chevy bowtie. Nonetheless, expect to see Allgaier and Brandt together again next season.

 

NAPA
We’ve already touched briefly on the changes underway at JR Motorsports. On their way out looking for a new ride will be drivers Ben Rhodes and Regan Smith. Coming in will be Elliott Sadler with One Main Financial colors. And yet, one more driver is leaving the stable, 2014 Xfinity Series champ Chase Elliott, and he’s taking sponsor NAPA Auto Parts with him to the Cup level.

Of course, Elliott’s move to replace the legend Jeff Gordon following his retirement from the sport has been well documented already. NAPA will come in to cover Chase in 24 races, while likely other sponsors at Hendrick Motorsports will step up to partner with the young rookie, including current #24 car presenter 3M. Other sponsors however will likely be displaced, with Axalta already moving to the #88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

AARP
Speaking of displacement, AARP and their Drive to End Hunger campaign appear to be one of those being pushed off the #24 machine. Their contract with Hendrick Motorsports ends in 2015, and it seems unlikely that they will be back in any capacity. The program worked well with Jeff Gordon because of his age and his appeal with older NASCAR fans and viewers. And while there are other drivers that could fit that mold going forward for AARP, most if not all appear to have the sponsorship covered through their retirements as well.

 

Certainly this is not an exhaustive list of all the impending sponsor changes to come for 2016 in NASCAR. Many more smaller dominoes have yet to fall across the board, and even new entries from outside companies could shake this up even more. One thing is certain, however, as NASCAR continues to move boldly forward into the future – the place of big name sponsors is not going away.

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