Negotiations moving ahead for former Busch series

Updated: January 30, 2007, 12:42 AM ET
By Marty Smith | ESPN.com

NASCAR is seeking approximately $30 million annually to sponsor its second series, multiple sources close to ongoing negotiations told ESPN.com on Monday.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that is roughly twice the annual investment Anheuser-Busch forked out to sponsor the series with its Busch brand for the past several years.

Sources say there is no clear front-runner at this point, but did admit that previously-speculated suitors Subway, Samsung and Wal-Mart are accurate. Sources also said Dunkin Donuts is a player, and that NASCAR met with Allstate last week.

One key issue, though, is potential conflicts with existing sponsors.

Sources said NASCAR went through all sponsors that would present conflicts with NASCAR's official partners, the race teams and tracks -- which is where Allstate presents an issue; all six Speedway Motorsports tracks are sponsored by Nationwide -- and created a short list before approaching existing partners to gauge interest.

One source said the best-case scenario is to close the deal within the next three months. Asked for worst case, the source said "it doesn't sell."

Asked for comment on the matter, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston didn't deny the accuracy of the speculation and did say there is plenty of interest from corporate America.

"I can confirm that there has been great interest from a number of multinational companies that are interested in this sponsorship," Poston said.

"The entitlement would provide the eventual sponsor over $100 million annually in brand exposure, and that, along with the partnership with ESPN2, makes this a very desirable position in sports."

Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.