Is Shell/Pennzoil Sponsorship Misfortune for Drivers
Photo by Wesley Daniel / TheRacingExperts.Com
Shell/Pennzoil has sponsored four different drivers the past two-and-a-half seasons, including Kurt Busch (pictured above) in 2011.
By Benji Butler
Hundreds of sponsors have come and gone in NASCAR over the years. NASCAR has become a key marketing tactic to get a company's name out there. As many as one in four Fortune 500 companies have some sort of presence in the sport.
One combination that has been a full-time sponsor is the Shell/Pennzoil combination. Pennzoil has been in NASCAR for over a decade as a primary backer for various race teams. When Pennzoil teamed up with Shell in 2007, the duo won their debut race together at the Daytona 500 with Kevin Harvick. Since then, they haven't had very much success.
In 2007, Kevin Harvick, won the Daytona 500 and the Nextel All-Star race. But other than that, Harvick did not have much luck in the four seasons he was sponsored by Shell/Pennzoil, having a winless streak from February 2007 (Daytona) to April 2010 (Talladega). While Harvick did have three wins, twenty-six top 10's, and sixteen top 5's in 2010, he was only able to finish third in the final driver standings, in what was a comeback year for the team.
After 2010, Richard Childress Racing did not resign Shell/Pennzoil back to the 29 car for the 2011 season. Instead, Budweiser, who had just left Kasey Kahne after a three year run, joined the organization. It was announced during the off-season that the Shell/Pennzoil combination had found a new driver to sponsor, Kurt Busch.
Penske Racing South revamped Kurt Busch’s ride with a new number and new sponsor in Shell/Pennzoil, winning the Budweiser Shootout and his Gatorade Duel. Busch won again at Sonoma in June and in early October at Dover. At the end of the season, Busch would finish with two wins, thirteen top 10's, and eight top 5's, powering him to a respective eleventh place finish in final driver standings.
But the season’s achievements would be overshadowed by the fallout with media personality Dr. Jerry Punch after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After Busch and Penske “mutually” parted ways in December, Penske’s No. 22 ride became available to a luck driver. That looked at first to be David Ragan, but the team went with A.J. Allmendinger.
Allmendinger’s 2012 season through the first 17 races were plagued with “could’ve, would’ve, and should’ves.” , Although Allmendinger almost captured his first win on the season at Martinsville in April, his season that looked to be on the turnaround would be cut short the night of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, where Allmendinger was temporarily suspended by NASCAR for failing a random drug test.
After Allmendinger failed a second drug test, he was quickly released from Penske. But the main focus here is about Shell/Pennzoil. This is yet another woe in their sponsorship. So it brings up the same question. Is the Shell/Pennzoil sponsorship misfortune for drivers in NASCAR?