Nationwide Insurance and Hendrick Motorsports will part ways after the 2019 season. On Wednesday, the insurance firm announced its intention to end its contract with the Monster Energy Cup Series team one year early; Nationwide currently sponsors Alex Bowman‘s #88.
“We understand the changing dynamics of business, and we’re grateful to the entire team at Nationwide for their wonderful partnership over the past five years,” team owner Rick Hendrick stated. “Whether it’s been winning races, competing in the NASCAR playoffs or our recent on-track performance, we have accomplished so much together. Off the track, we have been just as successful, from collaborating on national advertising campaigns to supporting the important mission of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It has been a pleasure to work with all of their people and to help drive Nationwide’s business forward.”
Beyond Hendrick, Nationwide has been one of the sport’s most prominent brands. From 2008 to 2014, it was the title sponsor of what is now the Xfinity Series, and eventually shifted to HMS’ #88 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the 2015 season. He scored three wins in a Nationwide-liveried car, all in 2015. After Earnhardt’s retirement in 2016, he maintained a close relationship with the company as it remained on the #88 with Bowman now the permanent driver.
Between 2013 and 2014, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also had Nationwide sponsorship for his Roush Fenway Racing car.
“Since 2015, Nationwide has had the pleasure of being the primary sponsor of the No. 88 team—first with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the driver and then with Alex Bowman,” a Nationwide statement read. “In that time, the platform has played a valuable role in building the Nationwide brand, sharing with NASCAR fans our noble purpose of protecting what matters most to our members and raising money and awareness for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The decision was spurred by business moves within the organisation, including switching to a business-to-business (B2B) model and introducing new Chief Executive Officer Kirt Walker in October.
“As Nationwide’s business needs evolve, we are adjusting our marketing resources to ensure that we are aligning to those new business priorities. With that in mind, we have informed Hendrick Motorsports of our decision to step away from our sponsorship of the 88 team at the end of the year.
“We have not made this decision lightly, given our 20-plus year involvement in NASCAR and our deep appreciation for Rick Hendrick, Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, and the millions of NASCAR fans we have engaged with over the years.
“Nationwide will continue to leverage our sponsorship for the rest of 2019 and have many special activations planned. In 2020, we will host partners at select NASCAR races and continue our relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“We thank Mr. Hendrick for a wonderful five years and wish him and the entire Hendrick Motorsports organization the very best in their future endeavors.”
Bowman’s contract with HMS runs through 2020. Now in his second full-time season in the #88, he currently sits tenth in the Cup standings with five top-ten runs in the last six races, including a three-race stretch of second-place finishes in the spring. Axalta Coating Systems, Valvoline, and Llumar have also sponsored the #88 in 2019, though Nationwide holds the bulk; after fifteen races, Nationwide has sponsored Bowman in all but four races.
“I owe a lot to Nationwide,” Bowman said. “They wanted me as their driver and have supported me from the beginning, which I can’t thank them enough for. I’m proud to represent them and have a lot of appreciation for all the awesome people I’ve met and worked with. I couldn’t be more positive about my No. 88 team and what the future holds for us this year and beyond. I know we’re just scratching the surface, and I’m pumped for what’s ahead. We appreciate the role Nationwide has played in our success.”
On Twitter, Bowman posted: