NASCAR forced to change name of Nextel Cup Series

UPDATE #3 A new name for the Nextel Cup Series will likely be announced at a news conference Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

06/20/07 NASCAR will neither confirm nor deny that its Nextel Cup Series will carry the name Sprint beginning in 2008.

"To my knowledge, no final decision has been made," said Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications, refuting an report that the name change was imminent.

But Poston added, "if that's the direction they want to go, we (NASCAR) would be supportive of that."

Nextel officials were flying to California Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, and not available for comment. However, USA TODAY learned that the topic of changing the NASCAR series name did not come up at Wednesday's corporate communications meeting.

Changing the name would require substantial lead time and expense on the part of Sprint/Nextel, given the amount of signage and participating sponsorships involved.

Poston noted that this issue of rebranding differs substantially in NASCAR's eyes from the ongoing battle between AT&T/Cingular and Sprint/Nextel which prompted the filing of a $100 million countersuit by NASCAR this week.

"They are different agreements," Poston said. "The contract between Nextel and NASCAR had written into it that they could rebrand one time. The agreements between Cingular (and alltel with NASCAR) did not. We went to bat for them to keep them in the sport with a grandfather clause." USA Today

06/20/07 Beginning with the 2008 season, Sprint will replace Nextel as title sponsor of NASCAR's premiere racing series, multiple high-ranking industry sources told on condition of anonymity. The series will be known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, sources said. NASCAR declined comment. Dean Kessel, Sprint's NASCAR marketing director, denied the claims, and said Sprint/Nextel is still sorting the proposition out with NASCAR. Kessel also said that multiple outstanding details must be finalized internally before a decision can be made either way. This would mark the third time in four seasons NASCAR's Cup Series experienced a sponsorship-based name change.

Here's one to consider, if NASCAR/Sprint don't let AT&T convert the Cingular brand over to AT&T then NASCAR should not let Sprint change the Nextel brand over to Sprint! If there going to hold AT&T to the letter of a contract signed long ago then AT&T should force NASCAR to hold Sprint to the letter of their contract as well! This is going to get REAL interesting REAL fast! It's really a precedent setting and LONG overdue challenge to NASCAR's monopolistic management of team/sponsor relationships. Look for the four team rule to get challenges too. The cost of competition (read: testing and R&D) is getting so expensive the major racing corporations will need to field more teams to make up for all the little operations that will soon be folding up their tents. See: Andretti Green Racing.

03/11/07 After investing million of dollars in the Nextel Cup name rumor in the NASCAR garage at Las Vegas on Sunday is that Sprint Nextel has finally decided that they want NASCAR to change the name of the Nextel Cup series. Since the merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications into Sprint Nextel rumors have been rampant that the name would change to Sprint Cup Series or Sprint Nextel Cup Series.

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