Crown Royal ending team sponsorship

Updated: June 28, 2011, 8:18 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Crown Royal will end its sponsorship with Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the year, and parent company Diageo will not renew its deal as an official NASCAR partner.

Crown Royal has sponsored Matt Kenseth for the last two seasons, and the company sponsored Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray before that. Going forward, Crown Royal will only sponsor the Sprint Cup race at Richmond.

"In shifting our strategy, we will end our sponsorships with Roush Fenway Racing and NASCAR upon the conclusion of the 2011 season," Yvonne Briese, Diageo North American Whisky vice president of marketing, said Tuesday in a statement.

"We have developed strong relationships with the people at both organizations -- they have not only been fantastic business partners, but have also become our friends. We thank them for working with us throughout the years to showcase the importance of our social responsibility initiatives."

Crown Royal has no competition in NASCAR right now because Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's have left the series. NASCAR only allowed distilled liquors in as sponsors beginning with the 2005 season.

"We are obviously disappointed with the news, but first we would like to thank Diageo and Crown Royal for a terrific partnership that has spanned almost a decade," Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark said in a statement.

"It's unfortunate that they will not be able to continue to be a part of our organization. Fortunately, our race programs are operating at a higher level than ever. The No. 17 is an attractive, championship-winning program with a storied history and Matt Kenseth an elite driver. We have already opened the door for discussions and are currently in the process of speaking with companies interested in taking over the program for next season and beyond."

RFR announced Tuesday that Affliction Clothing has added two more races of primary sponsorship to Kenseth's car, beginning with Saturday night's event at Daytona. Affliction has already sponsored two races for Kenseth this season.

RFR began the season with all four of its primary sponsors up for renewal, and the team has so far only renewed sponsor 3M and driver Greg Biffle. Both the sponsor and Biffle signed extensions in April.

Still unsigned is Aflac and driver Carl Edwards, who is considered the top possible free agent in NASCAR right now. David Ragan is still under contract, but sponsor UPS has not been renewed yet and recent rumors have that company potentially linked to a deal with Clint Bowyer.

Bowyer was believed to have been heavily courted by Red Bull, which last week announced it was leaving NASCAR as both team owner and sponsor of a two-car organization. It's not clear if the recent link to UPS would be with RFR, which would only have a driver opening if Edwards leaves, or with Richard Childress Racing, where Bowyer currently drives.

Bowyer said last week he wants to sign a three-year contract extension with RCR.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press