Despite losing their star driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., due to retirement at the end of 2017, Nationwide announced a re-up of their sponsorship with replacement driver Alex Bowman for the next two years with long-time partner Hendrick Motorsports.
While Bowman is widely considered to be talented, his results in 2018 have yet to provide a particular result, but clearly Nationwide;s involvement remains strong.
It’s important to note this for multiple reasons:
- Not everything about the sport is doom and gloom. In an era when some of the biggest supporters, including Lowe’s Home Improvement, have exited, Nationwide has still managed to build viability in their program, even with muted results.
- A multi-pronged approach is key. Nationwide doesn’t just sponsor the No. 88 Chevrolet and walk away, but they’re extremely active in utilizing their insurance services throughout the NASCAR paddock. It provides measurable and immediate return, something many series sponsorships struggle with.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is said to be a key figure in keeping this program going, rumored to continue his personal appearances with the organization as a way to continue corporate enthusiasm for the sport. This is sort of personal dedication is key to the viability, something many other series’ and drivers could learn from.
Needless to say, it’s a working model and in the eyes of NASCAR, a hope that the upward momentum can really begin to hit.