While writing this I could not help thinking about the Bud commercial that first ran during the 2007 Superbowl, and the shorter version that is running here in the US at the moment on tv, featuring Dale Jr and a bunch of "crazy mutant guys" (looking like they just fell off the set of Mad Max). I’ll see if I can find a link to it, as I am sure it is floating around on youtube somewhere.
Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, rumors are circulating that Budweiser will not be back at DEI next year, and will not be following Dale Jr to Hendrick. Leading the charge is on this one is NASCAR rumor site Jayski.com, a long time reliable NASCAR breaking story site, recently snapped up by ESPN.
Jayski is reporting that the most likely place for Budweiser to end up is at Evernham, probably on the 9 car of Kasey Khane, or even possibly the 19 of Elliot Sadler (who I would have thought would be a better choice, rather than the clean cut Khane).
Of course at this point, none of this is confirmed, but the rumor mill has this happening, with Dale Jr being sponsored by Pepsi Co, with either the Mountain Dew brand, or a combination of beands. This makes sense as Hendrick has had a long association with Pepsi, with Pepsi being featured on Jeff Gordon’s cars for a number of years. There is also talk the Bud could stay at DEI, but it would probably be dependant on who was signed as the driver.
About all this news tells us is that nothing is for sure as yet. Budweiser as a brand apparently would like to stay involved with NASCAR, but it appears that for whatever reason they look like they will part ways with Dale Jr. Not much, if anything has been said about Bud having an ongoing contract with DEI for next year, but it is being assumed at this point that the DEI contracts with Bud were subject to have Dale Jr as the driver, and without him there is no more contract.
There is one other angle to this that again, is not being aired around the news sites. That is why Budweiser are parting company with Dale Jr. They have appeared to had a pretty successful partnership over the last few years, and it seems the norm for sponsors to build a long lasting relationship with their drivers. There are a coupe of things that come to mind on this subject, the first being that maybe Hendrick does not fit with Budweiser for some reason. I have thought and thought about it and cannot see any sponsorship conflicts, but then of course maybe there is something in the past that makes this impossible, that is not immediately apparent. The logical explanation is that maybe Hendrick are asking for too much money, and maybe all this that we are hearing about is nothing more than negotiating tools, and that once the dust settles, we will indeed see Dale Jr at Hendrick next year in the #8 with Bud, both on and in the car …..