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Craftsman will be out as title sponsor of NASCAR’s truck-racing series beginning with the 2009 season, The Star has learned.
No new title sponsor has been found to replace Craftsman, but a search will soon be getting under way, said Steve Phelps, marketing director for NASCAR.
He said he believes NASCAR will have little problem finding a new title sponsor because of the increasing popularity of the series.
“We haven’t started a search, per se,” Phelps said. “But what we want to try to do is identify companies that we believe would be a great fit for the series and a great fit for the fan base. So we’ll get out there in 2008, the new year, and start discussions with new companies. No real timelines on when it’s going to get done. But it will obviously get done.”
Craftsman has been the title sponsor since 1995, the year NASCAR founded the series. Over the past 13 series, the trucks have featured some of NASCAR’s best racing. Television ratings in terms of total viewership have grown every season.
Craftsman’s contract with NASCAR ends after the 2008 series.
Scott Howard, manager of marketing partnerships and activation for Sears, said his company had been in discussions with NASCAR about continuing sponsorship of the series for the past several months.
But, he said, “We have come to the decision that we’re going to be giving up our title sponsorship to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series at the end of 2008. We are fully committed to the series until the end of next season.”
Howard said that Craftsman does not plan to withdraw fully from NASCAR. He said his company will continue exploring efforts to maintain a presence in the series.
Phelps stressed that NASCAR is committed to the truck series.
“The series is incredibly important to us,” Phelps said. “It’s one of our three national series. It’s got an incredibly strong fan base, great competition on the track with some real veteran drivers.”
The trucks series has raced at Kansas Speedway since the track opened in 2001. In 2007, it was moved from the Fourth of July weekend to the final weekend in April.
Each race at Kansas, where it has shared weekend billing with the IndyCar series, has been held in front of nearly full grandstands.
Earlier this year, NASCAR’s other top series — the Nextel Cup series and the Busch series — announced that they were changing their names.
Sprint Cup will become the name of the top series beginning in 2008, and Busch series will become the Nationwide series as Nationwide Insurance has acquired title sponsorship of that series.