Discount Tire Co. will be the primary sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing's NASCAR Busch Series entry next season, extending an exploratory eight-race relationship the companies entered into this year.
The 2005 sponsorship decision coincides with the team's first victory in the Busch Series, as Ganassi Racing's Nextel Cup driver Jamie McMurray drove the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge Intrepid to victory Nov. 6 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Next year 18-year-old Reed Sorenson will pilot the car as he vies to become the Busch Series rookie of the year, according to Ganassi Racing. Mr. Sorenson drove the car in five races this year, finishing fourth in the season-ending race in Miami and scoring three top-10 finishes in all.
Technically speaking, Discount Tire will be the ``Official Sponsor of Talent Development'' for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates-as the team is known officially.
Ganassi Racing entered the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge in eight Busch Series races thus far this season, piloted by Mr. Sorenson and Nextel Cup drivers Casey Mears and Mr. McMurray, who earned the team's first win at Phoenix.
Mr. Mears earned two poles and two top 10 finishes in the No. 41 Dodge, while Mr. Sorenson led 47 laps at Atlanta on Oct. 30.
``Discount Tire's corporate culture is to educate, develop, empower and promote employees from within, very similar to the Ganassi talent development program,'' said Rob Wise, vice president of advertising and marketing. ``Over the last several months, Discount Tire has had the opportunity to witness the team's commitment to win races by cultivating some of the best young drivers and by producing race cars with the potential to finish in victory lane.''
The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal, but sources familiar with NASCAR racing estimated it would take $5 million or more to field a competetive Busch Series car for an entire season.
Discount Tire operates more than 590 retail stores in 18 states along with an online/mail-order business and a wholesale business, all generating $1.7 billion in sales last year.