In late 2016, Monster Energy signed a two-year deal to sponsor NASCAR‘s premier series, dubbing it the Monster Energy Cup Series starting in 2017. During the 2018 season, with a year left in the contract, Monster has agreed to an extension to remain the title sponsor of stock car racing’s highest level for another season. The news was initially reported by Adam Stern of Sports Business Daily on Tuesday, with NASCAR making a formal announcement later in the day.
SBD first announced NASCAR and Monster nearing an agreement in late March. After the two parties had signed the initial contract for 2017 worth $20 million, Monster had been asked to discuss an extension by 31 December of that year, but the energy drink company requested multiple postponements. Throughout the opening months of 2018, NASCAR and Monster executives repeatedly met to consider options, with the latter finally agreeing on extending the partnership by one year in April.
While an extra season is a short lengthening, NASCAR has explained it was to grant Monster the chance to plan alternative sponsorship methods beside series naming rights by 2020. If this is the case and Monster decides to sponsor a different branch of the sport, the three seasons as the Cup title sponsor would be the shortest in series history. NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve Phelps also raised the possibility, stating it is “highly unlikely” Monster will return as title sponsor, though he expects the company to remain involved in the sport.
One rumored sponsorship model is the likelihood of the Cup Series having no exclusive naming rights, instead having multiple companies aboard. Others include having no title sponsor and instead opting for a “bundle” package that features partnerships with the tracks and television broadcasters. If the latter happens, the top series would likely be simply named the “NASCAR Cup Series”.
“We want to keep our options open,” Phelps added.
Monster became the third title sponsor in Cup history in December 2016 when it succeeded Sprint (Nextel, which took over naming rights from longtime sponsor Winston in 2004, merged with Sprint during its run). At the time, NASCAR was eager to sign a company that was likely to appeal to younger demographics. However, Monster’s impact on the sport has been marginal at best outside of branding. When the two parties had agreed to the sponsorship, Monster had received a far cheaper deal than its predecessors.