Cookies to Sponsor
2002 NASCAR BUSCH Series
Event at Kentucky Speedway
Sellout Crowd Expected For
"The Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo" On June 15
(April 2002) - SPARTA, KY. Kentucky Speedway officials
have traded ribs for cookies in their sponsorship deal for the 2002
Busch Series race at the 3-year-old Sparta, Ky., track.
The Kroger Co., the Nabisco Biscuit Division of Kraft Foods, and Kentucky
Speedway on April 16 announced that the facility's June 15 NASCAR Busch
Series race will be titled "The Kroger 300 Presented by Oreo."
Nabisco replaces last year's Busch Series race sponsor, Outback Steakhouse.
The title and presenting sponsorship agreement for Kentucky
Speedway's second NASCAR Busch Series event increases the commitment
of current corporate partners Kroger and Nabisco. The 2001 inaugural
race attracted a Greater Cincinnati record, standing-room-only crowd
of 70,338 to the $152-million track.
"We are delighted to have Kroger and Nabisco's Oreo Cookies brand
as sponsors of our NASCAR Busch Grand National Race," Kentucky
Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis
said. "Our goal for this race was to attract nationally recognized
sponsors, and to have Kroger and Oreo on board for one of our largest
events has truly exceeded our expectations. We fully expect to duplicate
last season's standing-room-only crowd."
Nabisco's Martin Wingard said the sponsorship agreement "has victory
lane written all over it." He cited his company's five-year history
of various levels of sponsorships with NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhart
Jr., Michael Waltrip, Kevin Harvick, Steve Park and Rusty Wallace, among
"This enables us to partner with Kroger and allows us to extend
one of the most successful sponsorships in NASCAR," Wingard said.
Nabisco's relationship with Dale Earnhardt Inc. drivers dates to 1998,
but this is the first actual race the company has sponsored. He noted
that Nabisco already produces "the preferred cracker, cookie and
snack nut of NASCAR, and now the Kentucky Speedway."
The Busch Series race weekend at the 1.5-mile tri-oval will kick off
with a celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony in Cincinnati, where
Earnhardt Jr. will take part in renaming 15th Avenue "Oreo Way."
The festivities will move to Sparta on Friday night with the Busch Series
"Pole Night" at 8 p.m. (EST) and the NASCAR Gatorade All-Pro
Series race, a 150-mile, 100-lap feature at 10 p.m.
The NASCAR Busch Series drivers take the green flag at 8 p.m. Saturday
for a 300-mile, 200-lap event that will be televised on the FX Network.
At 11 p.m., the 100-mile, 67-lap NASCAR Goodys Dash Series race
will cap the weekends events.
A newly paved track should provide one of the smoothest and fastest
surfaces these drivers will face all season, said Kentucky Speedway
officials. Cassis said the decision to repave the track after last years
complaints by Indy Racing League drivers about the tracks bumpiness
was an example of the owners commitment to the quality of the
Weve had some rigidity in the track last year, and (track
developer and co-owner) Jerry (Carroll) and the board will just not
stop investing in this facility, Cassis said.
He added that the new I-71 interchange is scheduled to be open by the
first full weekend of racing in mid-May. This will allow fans an easier
entry and exit to and from the parking areas.
The connector road to Markland Dam, however, will not be completed for
perhaps another year. Kentucky Speedway officials have high hopes that,
when completed, the connector road to the Markland Dam bridge and the
new I-71 interchange will put them one step closer to NASCARs
prestigious Winston Cup Series.
When asked about that possibility at the April press conference, NASCARs
managing director of public relations, Rob Copeland, replied, The
big problem weve got is that the schedule is packed as it is.
We want to expand into different geographic areas of the country, and
were constantly evaluating our options. Weve certainly taken
notice of the fine show they put on here in Kentucky, but we have a
finite amount of time to schedule and run our races.
Asked later about his recent efforts to obtain a Winston Cup date, Carroll
said he was in regular communication with NASCAR officials but that
he was no closer to landing a race date as he was last year.
We just stay focused on providing a top-quality facility, with
a great track for the drivers and a great show for the fans and let
the rest take care of itself, Carroll said.
He admitted that repaving the track in April was a major financial investment
but one that had to be made to maintain the standards his development
team had set for the facility and to ensure his chances of landing a
Winston Cup date. He declined to reveal the cost of repaving, joking
that is was somewhere between 10 dollars and $4 million dollars.
To help mark the sponsorship announcement, Speedway officials invited
second-year Busch Series driver Jamie McMurray to Sparta. McMurray,
a 27-year-old Joplin, Mo., native, was ranked 13th in Busch Series point
standings after seven races this year. As a rookie last season, he finished
10th in the Busch Series race at Sparta and wound up third in the rookie-of-the-year
standings by seasons end.
He praised the Kentucky facility, with or without the repaving.
I thought the track was fine the way it was, said McMurray,
who competed in the 2000 inaugural season at Kentucky by driving in
the Kroger 225 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
Cassis explained that the bumpy spots on the track were less noticeable
for those driving the more rugged NASCAR trucks and stock cars than
for the low-riding, 220-mph Indy car drivers.
The track was runable, but thats not our goal here,
Cassis said. This is reaching into our pockets again to make sure
we have the best track around.
McMurray moved to Central City, Ky., 1 _ years ago to be near his Brewco
Motorsports racing team. His No. 27 Chevrolet Monte Carlo is sponsored
by Williams TravelCenters, based in Nashville, Tenn.
This place is great. I remember last year all the fans on their
feet screaming and cheering. It was just incredible, McMurray
After losing the Outback Steakhouse, Cassis admitted that the slow economy
made it tougher than usual in locating a replacement sponsor this year.
These deals are hard to do, but its rewarding when it all comes
Headquartered in Cincinnati, the Kroger Co. is one of the nation's largest
grocery retailers, with fiscal 2001 sales of $50.1 billion. The company
operates more than 2,400 stores under nearly two dozen banners and a
variety of store formats.
The NASCAR Busch Series partnership marks the second title sponsorship
for the Kroger Co. at the Kentucky Speedway. The company is in its third
year as title sponsor of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Kroger
Introduced in 1912, Oreo is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2002.
The top-selling cookie in the world, Oreo is the flagship brand in the
Nabisco cookie and cracker portfolio. Oreo is no stranger to NASCAR
an image of the classic vanilla crème-filled chocolate
sandwich cookie has adorned the hood of Dale Earnhardt. In February,
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. drove an Oreo-branded car to victory in the GNC
Live Well 300 in the return of his father's legendary No. 3 to the track.
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