Last month Richard Childress Racing (RCR) found itself in a sponsorship battle invovling NASCAR series sponsor NEXTEL and Jeff Burton's car sponsor Cingular. Essentially what is happening is that AT&T purchased Cingular and is planning on phasing out the name on all of it's products and sponsorships, including it's sponsorship of Jeff Buton's ride.
The problem is that NEXTEL has what is essentially a no-competition clause in their contract with NASCAR, in that no other telecommunication companies can sponsor a car unless they were already sponsors when NEXTEL took over as the series sponsor. Cingular and Alltel were already sponsors so they got to stay on, but now that AT&T owns Cingular and wants to use it's name instead, NEXTEL is holding firm that AT&T can't use their name on the 31 car because they only allowed the Cingular name and it looks like NASCAR's hands are tied on this one because it appears that the existing contract is firm.
Now something similar is happening to Kevin Harvick's sponsor. It seems that when Sunoco became the "official fuel of NASCAR" back in 2003 they had a non-competition clause in their contract with NASCAR which is similar to the one that NEXTEL has. This means that no 'gas' companies would be allowed to sponsor any race cars in any of NASCAR's top 3 series.
Since Shell came on as an automotive lubricant company in conjunction with the Penzoil brand and not as a Gas company, it was easy to get by the non-competition clause. I would imagine this disappointed Sunoco, who had to 'grandfather' Texaco as a sponsor for Ganassi's 42 car.
The problem is with Harvick's helmet and uniform. They have the Shell name and emblem that is quite large on them with no hint at being a lubricant sponsor. This has gotten pretty bitter. NASCAR instructed Harvick to wear a jacket during driver introductions at the Daytona 500. Look for Harvick to be sporting a new uniform in time for this week's race.
"During Speedweeks, officials with Sunoco logged several complaints with NASCAR regarding the Shell logos on Harvick's helmet and uniform. They peaked when Harvick's victories in Saturday's Busch race and Sunday's Daytona 500 produced several newspaper headlines utilizing the Shell name and many photographs of the Shell logos." - source That's Racin NASCAR even told Kevin not to use his current "Shell" helmet again, so he now must wear his Busch helmet this weekend in California because his new one won't be ready in time.
This is getting out of hand. What makes it worse is that it is effecting the same team yet again. NASCAR has made their own bed and now they have to lay in it, it is a shame that they are taking some of their race teams with them.