Nascar Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart Loses Primary Sponsor

By Community | September 3, 2012

Reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart has lost his primary sponsor for next season.

Office Depot, which was one of the team’s first sponsors and adorned Stewart’s car when he clinched last season’s title in a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards in the final race, will not renew its contract as primary sponsor on the No. 14 team, SHR spokesman Mike Arning said Sunday. The team is in discussions with the company regarding possible future roles.

“The decision to significantly curtail our relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing was very difficult and one that we did not take lightly. However, the changing business landscape warrants a realignment of priorities and resources,” said Mindy Kramer, senior director of communications for Office Depot.

“That being said, Tony Stewart has been an exceptional ambassador for our brand, and he has gone above and beyond in everything that he has done for our company. Being a part of his legendary 2011 championship run was a moment of tremendous pride for everyone at Office Depot. Regardless of what kind of role we’ll have with Tony and SHR, our support for them will not change. The Office Depot family will always be with Smoke, cheering him on to many more championships.”

Office Depot, slated to back more than 20 races this year on the No. 14, was one of the first sponsors to join forces with Stewart when the now-three-time NASCAR champion left Joe Gibbs Racing to form his own team beginning in 2009. The company’s departure leaves Mobil 1, which is backing about 15 races this season on Stewart’s vehicle, as the No. 14 team’s largest sponsor remaining for next year

Office Depot’s departure also comes as the organization is searching for a sponsor to keep Ryan Newman in the No. 39 car for 2013, given that the U.S. Army chose earlier this year to pull out of NASCAR sponsorship under pressure from two members of U.S. Congress. At the moment, the lone fully funded car for next season at SHR stands to be that of current full-time Nationwide driver Danica Patrick, who is on track to bring up to the sport’s highest level.

In an ESPN pre-race interview from Atlanta, Stewart commented on the loss of Office Depot.

“It’s going to be hard to lose them,but it’s a good spot for someone [else],” Stewart said.

“Starting the weekend with a pole, there’s no better way to show everybody what Stewart-Haas is about.”