Target’s longtime sponsorship of Chip Ganassi Racing will dissolve at the end of the current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series season, the company announced Friday.
CGR has had one of its Cup Series teams backed full time by Target since 2002, and the decision leaves Kyle Larson without a primary sponsor for 2018. The 24-year-old is second in the series standings and has two wins this season.
Target cited a desire to pursue marketing initiatives in soccer as its reason for withdrawing its NASCAR sponsorship. The news isn’t unforeseen with the Minnesota-based company announcing prior to the season it was scaling back its primary sponsorship of the No. 42 team.
Sports Business Journal first reported:
“As we looked to evolve our sports marketing program, soccer provided Target with a unique opportunity to reach our guests in new places, and at all levels of the sport,” Target said in a statement. “Through partnerships with Major League Soccer, Minnesota United FC, US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Target has been able to create meaningful connections with players, fans and families, no matter how they participate in the sport.”
The Target-CGR partnership has extended beyond NASCAR. The company also sponsored CGR’s IndyCar team (1989-2016), which included 11 series championships and four Indianapolis 500 victories, in addition to a sports car program (2004-2016) that won the 24 Hours of Daytona six times.
“We are enormously proud of how Chip and the entire Ganassi Racing team have represented the Target brand throughout our partnership,” Target said in a statement. “Together, we’ve seen tremendous success in NASCAR over the past 16 seasons, both on and off the track.
“We have incredible respect for Chip and the talented team he has assembled and are confident they will continue to see great success for years to come.”
Despite the lack of an anchor sponsor for the No. 42 Cup car, CGR said in a statement it will continue to field a team for Larson, who remains under contract to the organization and is regarded as one of NASCAR’s rising stars. CGR said it is negotiating with other companies to serve as Larson’s sponsor.
“I have had an unbelievable relationship with Target for 28 years and I have to thank them for their longtime support,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “It has been so much more than a team-sponsor relationship. They have their fingerprints on so much of what Chip Ganassi Racing has become.
“This news simply closes one chapter of our race team and also begins a new one. Kyle Larson is a once-in-a-generation talent. He and the No. 42 Chevrolet will still be on the track for a long time; the only difference is that they will have different colors.”
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