Bud to sponsor Kevin Harvick's car

8/17/2010 - NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Budweiser has teamed with Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick as a primary sponsor for most of the 2011 season.

Budweiser said Tuesday its familiar red paint scheme will be on Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet for 20 races next season, as well as the non-points events at Daytona and the annual All-Star race. The beer company will be an associate sponsor on the remaining 16 Sprint Cup races.

"Budweiser's involvement in NASCAR dates back more than three decades, and we're excited to have as successful a driver as Kevin Harvick to usher in a new era for Budweiser," said Mark Wright, vice president of media, sports & entertainment marketing for Anheuser-Busch.

Harvick and Richard Childress Racing lost current sponsor Shell-Pennzoil in April, and Harvick responded by snapping a 115-race winless streak that same week at Talladega.

Budweiser began looking for a new driver at the same time. Kasey Kahne is moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, and that agreement left the longtime NASCAR sponsor in search of its third driver in three seasons.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s move in 2008 to Hendrick ended Bud's eight-year sponsorship of NASCAR's most popular driver, and the company launched an expensive re-brand with Kahne.

Now it moves to Harvick, who along with RCR is on an impressive resurgence. His victory Sunday at Michigan International Speedway was his third this season, and after a rough 2009, RCR is a force both on the track and in the sponsorship race.

While other teams are searching for funding -- Hendrick's Jeff Gordon doesn't have a primary sponsor lined up for next season -- RCR last week announced Paul Menard would join the organization next season with sponsorship from his father's home improvement company.

Now comes the Bud deal for Harvick, who is believed to have edged out two-time series champion Tony Stewart for the sponsorship.

"RCR prides itself on its heritage and authenticity," Childress said. "So working with a brand like Budweiser, which has built their reputation on those same values, is a very special opportunity."

Budweiser first sponsored a team at NASCAR's top level in 1983 and has backed Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach, Earnhardt and Kahne.