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NASCAR Trucks: Desperately seeking sponsorship
NASCAR's marquee circuit changed its sponsor from a tobacco giant to a telecommunications company in 2004. Its No. 2 stock car league is soon to begin competing under an insurance firm's banner after a quarter-century allegiance to beer money.

With such stark changes as precedent, it begs the question of what the Craftsman Truck Series will become in 2009 when the household-name tool company departs after a 14-year relationship.

Fans and teams likely won't find out for several months, but when they do, the news might not be as surprising as those other title sponsors that recently have come aboard.

Echoing the "tough trucks, tough racing" slogan the series has advertised for three years, there might be another "tough" sponsor forthcoming.

"I'm not sure that we're going to see a huge departure from a company that is more male-focused, but we're not discouraging those companies from looking or taking a hard look," said NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps. "We might go past what some people might think are obvious places to look." 

While shopping a sponsorship believed to be valued at about $5 million a year, NASCAR's marketing gurus certainly will explore all avenues. But in truck racing, Phelps and other marketing experts say, the demographic skews more toward males than in Nextel Cup and Nationwide Series racing -- in other words, a sign that might point toward another sponsor along the lines of a tool maker.

"It's a great opportunity for the right type of brand, given that it's the truck series," said Zak Brown, CEO and founder of Just Marketing, an Indianapolis-based marketing group active in motorsports. "I think Craftsman was a good fit, and for a company who kind of goes after that male 25-to-54, blue-collar working individual, it's a very good sponsorship to acquire."  More at ESPN.com

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