Discount Tire Co. is venturing into the high-profile world of NASCAR stock car racing to promote its growing network of tire stores.
Scottsdale-based Discount Tire, with 570-plus stores in 18 states, has teamed up with Chip Ganassi Racing to sponsor a NASCAR Busch Series Dodge Intrepid for eight races this season. The Busch Series is the development series for NASCAR's premiere Nextel Cup series.
The sponsorship deal, for which no value was disclosed, also makes Discount Tire an associate sponsor on the Ganassi team's three Nextel Cup entries, driven by Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and Sterling Marlin. The deal includes an 18-wheel truck and trailer displaying a picture of the car and Discount Tire logos and a show car that can be put on display at dealerships.
The Busch series team-actually a Ganassi affiliate team in partnership with fellow NASCAR vehicle owner Felix Sabates-is Ganassi Racing's first foray into the Busch series.
The Discount Tire-liveried car is being driven by Messrs. McMurray and Mears (two races each), as well as by American Speed Association driver Reed Sorenson (four races).
Discount Tire said it was ``unable to answer at this time'' questions about its sponsorship plans beyond this season. The company also is using the car in its television ads.
The Busch series partnership started with the Aug. 7 race at Indianapolis Raceway Park and continued Sept. 5 at California Speedway, where Mr. Mears finished second after starting on the pole position and leading 45 laps. The car carried both Discount Tire and America's Tire Co. logos at California to reflect Discount's retail identity in that state.
Discount Tire's deal also makes the tire retailer the ``Official Sponsor of Talent Development'' for Ganassi/Sabates.
For the dealership, the sponsorship deal provides exposure to NASCAR's ``fan base of car enthusiasts, adventure seekers and race followers.''
NASCAR's Busch Series races, which usually are run on Saturdays before the feature Nextel Cup races on Sundays, are broadcast by NBC or its TNT affiliate.
Tom Sivak, a Discount Tire vice president, said the partnership reflects the companies' philosophies of doing business, which centers on educating, developing and empowering employees.
In the past year, Discount Tire added about 50 stores, giving it 572 across 18 states. The stores are grouped in three geographic areas-the West/Southwest, stretching from Texas to Washington, the Southeast, from North Carolina to Florida, and the upper Midwest, Ohio to Minnesota.