The familiar Mountain Dew car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not be on the track as often next season. PepsiCo is planning to cut back sponsorship of NASCAR’s most popular driver according to the SportsBusiness Journal.
In 2012 PepsiCo sponsored Earnhardt for 20 races including his win at Michigan in July. According to the report, PepsiCo is working on a $10 million deal with Hendrick Motorsports that would provide sponsorship in five races for Earnhardt, two for Gordon and another race for Kasey Kahne.
This season Earnhardt drove with Diet Mountain Dew as the primary sponsor in 16 races and with Amp Energy in another four events.
“The main takeaway for us is that we’re continuing the relationship and partnership because we really value it,” Heidi Sandreuter, PepsiCo senior director, sports marketing, told SBJ. She declined to confirm how many races Pepsi would sponsor.
“Moving forward, it’s still about driving Diet Dew for Dale,” Sandreuter said. “Dale anchored Diet Dew this year for us, and that is huge. Sports and racing is what the brand is leveraging to increase awareness and trial.”
Hendrick has stated a few times this year that his organization had been talking to several companies who could sponsor his cars.
The National Guard will sponsor Earnhardt in 20 races next season. With a cutback by PepsiCo it will leave Hendrick Motorsports having to seek sponsorship for as many as 15 races next season on the No. 88 car.
Earnhardt has been cleared to race this weekend at Martinsville. He had missed the last two races after suffering a concussion on the last lap of a race at Talladega. Regan Smith had driven the No. 88 car the last two weeks. Smith finished seventh last weekend at Kansas.