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Nationwide expands NASCAR connection with Cup sponsorship for Stenhouse

Apr 27, 2013, 5:31 PM EDT

STP 400 - Practice Getty Images

Nationwide Insurance has been the main sponsor of NASCAR’s “Triple-A” category, the Nationwide Series, since 2008 and has been involved in the sport for 15 years. But it had never taken the step of actually sponsoring a car in America’s most popular form of racing — until now.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company has inked a two-year agreement with Roush Fenway Racing to be a sponsor for the No. 17 Ford of Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the 2011 and 2012 NNS champion. Nationwide will be Stenhouse’s primary backer at three Cup races this year (Aug. 24 at Bristol, Sept. 7 at Richmond, and Oct. 20 at Talladega) and four more in 2014, and will also serve as an associate backer for the Mississippi native at all other Cup races.

“We built a solid relationship with Roush Fenway and two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and Nationwide Insurance member, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and we’re eager to carry that momentum forward and enhance our existing integrated NASCAR marketing platform,” said Nationwide chief marketing officer Matt Jauchius in a statement.

In addition, Nationwide indicated that it’s currently in talks with NASCAR to continue its sponsorship of the NNS. Their current deal runs through the 2014 season.

“We remain fully committed to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, its teams and drivers, our loyal partners and the rabid fans,” Jauchius continued. “Nationwide Insurance continues to have positive conversations with NASCAR regarding the Series entitlement renewal, which began in mid-March and are on-going. It’s a very detailed process and we expect it will take a while, but NASCAR is a great place to be for active sponsors, like us.”

Stenhouse is currently battling for Rookie of the Year honors in Sprint Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing driver and girlfriend Danica Patrick. Going into tonight’s race at Richmond International Raceway, Patrick holds a two-point edge, 86-84, even though Stenhouse is ahead of Patrick by seven places in the overall championship (Stenhouse in 18th, Patrick in 25th).

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