Sponsors typically pay a premium to be on a championship caliber team, so in theory, they should be maximizing their investment through heavy promotion of the championship victory. Have you seen a Commemorative RHR Championship Sun Drop Can? Have you seen Retail displays of Sun Drop with RHR's Championship at the Stores? Have you seen any RHR Sun Drop print or TV advertisements?
The problem with many of the RHR sponsors (and most in IndyCar for that matter), is that they are small sponsors with limited national reach.
As an example, Mountain Dew (Dale Jr.'s sponsor) has 82% of the Citrus Soda market, while Sun Drop has 4%. Another one of RHR sponsors, DHL shut down its overnight package delivery service in the USA a few years ago (UPS and FedEx are still involved with NASCAR). They only do bulk shipping in the US now, which means that there will not be RHR Championship images printed on overnight letter envelopes as an example. Now, take what Miller Lite has done in restaurants, retail promotions, and media surrounding their Championship with Brad Keselowski and you see the difference.
I also think that many IndyCar fans to not really care about the Championship winner. The sport is built around the Indy 500, and for many years the Championship was secondary to winning Indy. Going back to the first years of CART (1979-1995), the Championship winners were all drivers who had also won the Indy 500, thus the media attention surrounding that driver started with their Indy 500 victory. RHR does not have a very strong history at Indy and thus the major TV audience of IndyCar (Indy has the highest ratings) does not really know him. The Championships in the CART days were won buy guys like Andretti, Unser, Mears, Villeneuve, Sullivan, Rahal and Mansell, who were all very successful at Indy (or F1).
In summary, I don't think the reason RHR is not getting much buzz as the IndyCar Champion not wholly due to lack of IndyCar Series promotion. I think it stems primarily from the lack of interest from Sun Drop and DHL and their limited market reach. I also think the fact that RHR has had limited success at the sport's biggest and most watched race has an influence on the lack of interest of the IndyCar Series Champion. Steve S.
04/11/13 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Your article absolutely hits the nail on the head…Ryan is a excellent driver; a winner, and a Champion….not to mention he is a class act out of the car. His drive at Barber was brilliant!! Rocky Moran Sr.
Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding your article on Hunter-Reay, IndyCar proves over and over why it deserves 0.25 TV ratings. They say they want to be a domestic series (which of course is foolish in today's day and age of global markets) yet when they have a 'domestic' American hero in the making they are clueless how to capitalize on it. Doris Bleacher