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PNC Bank partners with its 1st sports league in NASCAR deal

By Jenna Fryer

AP Auto Racing Writer

CHARLOTTE (AP) — PNC Bank has partnered with a professional sports league for the first time by becoming NASCAR’s official bank and official wealth management company.

PNC will leverage its partnership with NASCAR to expand its footprint across the country and U.S. military bases abroad. The deal announced Friday gives PNC access at NASCAR races and the opportunity to offer its services to the industry.

In bringing corporate clients to NASCAR races, PNC believes it will have a unique marketing experience to offer. It’s one of the same reasons the company last month backed IndyCar driver Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing.

PNC signed on as Dixon’s primary sponsor, but executive vice president of corporate banking Terry Begley said it is coincidental to its agreement with NASCAR.

“Each of these sponsorships we look at independently and in this case, NASCAR is a great brand and a national platform, and we are trying to grow our bank nationally,” Begley said. “We have sponsorships with many other sports, teams within the leagues around the country, but when we looked at it, NASCAR, as an entity across the country, it was about picking a partner that could help us strategically grow and cultivate new customers and clients.”

Begley said PNC will target markets where NASCAR races are held and capitalize on the access it will have to drivers and behind-the-scenes action while entertaining clients. PNC is targeting growth across the country, even in markets where it does not have a retail branch presence. PNC last year said it was forming a national digital retail strategy.

Bank of America had previously been the official bank of NASCAR, but when it exited that role NASCAR broke up all the categories that BOA had controlled. Segmenting the category has allowed NASCAR to form partnerships with Credit One, Click n’ Close and now PNC Bank, all as official partners. Credit One has also partnered with Ganassi as a sponsor for Kyle Larson, while Click n’ Close teamed with Bubba Wallace for his second-place finish in the Daytona 500.

“We started to parse it out and now we are rounding out the portfolio with PNC Bank,” NASCAR chief sales officer Steve Phelps said. “It took a little time to get these three different partners, but I think importantly, all three partners are going to activate significantly.”

Phelps noted PNC will reach fans in a non-traditional way and potentially help grow the base.

PNC will operate as NASCAR’s financial institution beginning immediately.

Phelps also said NASCAR was “humbled and honored” that PNC chose the series as its first sports league to launch an official banking partnership.

•••

HENDRICK SIGNS AXALTA TO 25-RACE DEAL THROUGH 2022 SEASON

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports got a little bit of breathing room Friday in its sponsorship chase by agreeing to a four-year extension with Axalta to sponsor a combined 25 races per season between Alex Bowman and William Byron.

The deal runs through the 2022 season and comes one week after team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed home improvement giant Lowe’s will no longer sponsor seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson after this season. Lowe’s has been Johnson’s only primary sponsor since his 2001 debut, and replacing that level of funding will be a daunting task for the race team.

For now, though, Hendrick has two of his newcomers partially covered into the future.

Axalta will be a primary sponsor for 15 races with Bowman this year and 12 next season. Byron will carry Axalta colors 10 times this year, 13 races next year. The schedules for the 2020 through 2022 seasons will be announced at a later date.

Axalta is a global supplier of liquid and powder coatings. The company has been partners with Hendrick Motorsports since November 1992 when it sponsored Jeff Gordon as DuPont. Gordon went on to win four Cup titles and 93 races through 2015.

Axalta stayed on through 2016 and 2017 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving.  Axalta last May opened a 36,000-square-foot Customer Experience Center on the Hendrick Motorsports campus outside Charlotte.

Hendrick said the company’s commitment to the team and the sport was “unbelievable” and Axalta Chairman Charlie Shaver praised the partnership.

“Motorsports is in Axalta’s DNA,” he said.

Hendrick has a rebuilt lineup with Johnson as his only veteran. Chase Elliott replaced Gordon when Gordon retired, and Bowman stepped in when Earnhardt retired at the end of last season. Byron was hired to replace Kasey Kahne, who was let go at the end of last year.

Bowman last month won the pole for the Daytona 500. Byron won last year’s Xfinity Series championship.

___

More AP Auto Racing:

http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/

http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/schedule/

http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/standings/

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