Companies that want in on Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon bringing the iconic No. 3 back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series still have a chance.
While brands such as Dow, Cheerios and American Ethanol have stepped in to fund most of the season, there is still inventory available, RCR Chief Marketing Officer Ben Schlosser told Newsday on Friday.
“We still have a few races open toward the back half of the year, but we don’t go public with exactly how many races are left,” said Schlosser.
Schlosser added that RCR is talking to both current sponsors and “a few interested parties” outside the current sponsorship group to fill out the schedule. NASCAR team sponsors past and present such as Aaron’s, 5-Hour Energy and Crown Royale have previously upped their sponsorship commitments mid-season.
Unsold races in NASCAR don't necessarily equate to problems finding sponsorship. Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. currently has almost a third of his season unsold -- because car owner Rick Hendrick has made it clear he's not discounting the price to sponsor Junior.
The opportunity to be part of the No. 3’s return for the first time since late RCR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. donned the number could be perceived as attractive to marketing partners. Earnhardt was NASCAR's marquee driver before his death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
But Schlosser says that Dillon -- Childress’ grandson -- has been the key to putting the package together.
“We weren’t selling the ‘3,’” Schlosser said of acquiring sponsorship, adding that Dillon is “very sponsor-friendly, and that has helped us immensely.”
Dillon won Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series titles in the three years leading to his Sprint Cup rookie campaign. Austin and younger brother Ty -- a rookie in the Nationwide Series -- have made their mark both on and off the track, sporting cowboy hats around the garage for a signature look.
Schlosser says personality counts, especially in a certain trait Childress -- who Austin and Ty affectionately refer to as “Pop Pop” -- has.
“They never really met a stranger,” Schlosser said, “and that goes a long way.”