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NASCAR's title sponsor, Sprint Nextel, is takeover target

April 15, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup… (Chris Graythen / Getty Images…)

NASCAR's title sponsor, Sprint Nextel Corp. is in the middle of a takeover battle.

Dish Network Corp. on Monday made an unsolicited $25.5-billion offer to buy Sprint, which already had agreed to merge with SoftBank Corp., a Japanese telecommunications company.

Regardless of which company prevails in buying Sprint, it raises the question of whether the change in control could affect the company's title sponsorship of NASCAR's top-tier Sprint Cup Series.

It's too soon to tell because the answer would depend on the new owner's willingness to stay invested in NASCAR. Also, Sprint last year renewed its naming-rights deal with NASCAR through 2016, so there's a contract in place for another three-plus years.

However, a new owner of Sprint might seek to change the series name. The Sprint sponsorship initially was inked by Nextel Corp., and the NASCAR series was called the Nextel Cup Series. The name later was changed to the Sprint Cup Series after Sprint and Nextel merged.

Nextel first became the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier circuit in 2004 when it took over for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, whose Winston brand was a longtime NASCAR sponsor (the Winston Cup Series). Nextel's initial 10-year title sponsorship reportedly cost about $700 million.

NASCAR spokesman Chris Tropeano declined comment on Dish's offer for Sprint, which Sprint officials said they would evaluate before commenting further.

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