For all the honest excitement surrounding this week’s NASCAR Ford Championship race weekend, the trophy-eligible Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team owners contend there has been a healthy energy away from the track as well.
Team Penske Vice Chairman Walt Czarnecki, Furniture Row Racing President Joe Garone, Joe Gibbs Racing founder Joe Gibbs and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart met with reporters Friday morning in advance of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The group of team leaders discussed topics on-track and beyond the garage, grateful their teams would be settling the title and even offering a few good-natured jabs among themselves.
When asked about the evolution of Stewart from championship driver to championship team owner, Gibbs joked, “Thanks for mentioning he (Stewart) dumped me.”
Asked about the economy of the sport, Czarnecki spoke up to talk about another event taking place Friday morning. Team Penske hosted about 100 sponsor representatives in Miami – an hour away from the speedway – and the sheer number of corporate partners generated a promising vibe for both the sport’s present and its future.
“It’s very interesting, because simultaneous with Ford Championship Weekend, we (Team Penske) are conducting our annual sponsor/partner summit at the Intercontinental Hotel,” Czarnecki said. “We have 100 people there, the largest group we’ve ever had, representing 40 organizations. Forty-five of those people are with us for the very first time, and in the last 18 months, we’ve added 15 more.
“So there’s an appetite out there as long as you’re delivering the value. As long as we can deliver the value as teams. … Now here we’re are in a situation where as an organization we have 40 different companies that work with us as sponsor partners, business partners, strategic partners on many different levels.
“I think it’s indicative of the strength of the sport, that there’s still an appetite to get involved.”