Nationwide Insurance to end sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports #88
Nationwide Insurance, a primary sponsorship of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Alex Bowman in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, will end its relationship with the team at the end of the 2019 season.
“Since 2015, Nationwide has had the pleasure of being the primary sponsor of the #88 team, first with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the driver and the, with Alex Bowman,” a statement from Nationwide read. "In that time, the platform has played a valuable role in building the Nationwide brand, sharing with NASCAR fans our noble purpose of protecting what matters most to our members and raising money and awareness for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“As Nationwide’s business needs evolve, we are adjusting our marketing resources to ensure that we are aligning to those new business priorities.
“With that in mind, we have informed Hendrick Motorsports of our decision to step away from our sponsorship of the 88 team at the end of the year. We have not made this decision lightly, given our 20-plus year involvement in NASCAR and our deep appreciation for Rick Hendrick, Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, and the millions of NASCAR fans we have engaged with over the years.
“Nationwide will continue to leverage our sponsorship for the rest of 2019 and have many special activations planned. In 2020, we will host partners at select NASCAR races and continue our relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“We thank Mr. Hendrick for a wonderful five years and wish him and the entire Hendrick Motorsports organization the very best in their future endeavors.”
Nationwide's departure will result in HMS needing to find a primary sponsor for the #88 for approximately 20 races next season.
As mentioned in its statement, Nationwide will continue its relationship with Earnhardt that has Earnhardt as a spokesman for the insurance company. Earnhardt remains active in NASCAR as co-owner of JR Motorsports, a NASCAR Xfinity Series team, and as a broadcaster for NBC Sports' NASCAR coverage.
Nationwide also is a former title sponsor of the series now known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Nationwide began its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports' #88 team late in the 2014 season and became a regular primary sponsor on the car in 2015, when Earnhardt was still driver. Earnhardt retired from competition as a NASCAR Cup Series driver at the end of the 2017 season. Bowman became the full-time driver of the #88 upon Earnhardt's retirement. He also drove the car for a partial schedule in the second half of the 2016 season as Earnhardt was sidelined by concussion symptoms.
“I owe a lot to Nationwide,” Bowman said. "They wanted me as their driver and have supported me from the beginning, which I can’t thank them enough for. I’m proud to represent them and have a lot of appreciation for all the awesome people I’ve met and worked with. I couldn’t be more positive about my #88 team and what the future holds for us this year and beyond. I know we’re just scratching the surface, and I’m pumped for what’s ahead. We appreciate the role Nationwide has played in our success.”
Bowman is under contract with HMS through the 2020 season. Through the first 15 races of the 2019 season, Bowman has three top-five finishes, a recent string of three-straight second-place finishes. He is 10th in the driver points standings. According to HMS owner Rick Hendrick, Bowman's status with the team is not affected by Nationwide's announcement.
"We understand the changing dynamics of business, and we’re grateful to the entire team at Nationwide for their wonderful partnership over the past five years,” Hendrick said. "Whether it’s been winning races, competing in the NASCAR playoffs or our recent on-track performance, we have accomplished so much together. Off the track, we have been just as successful, from collaborating on national advertising campaigns to supporting the important mission of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It has been a pleasure to work with all of their people and to help drive Nationwide’s business forward.
“Alex is having a breakout season and showing the world just how talented he is. He’s signed through next year and will be a big part of our future. The momentum we’re building as a sport is due in large part to NASCAR’s leadership and a unique combination of emerging personalities like Alex, established stars and the exciting shows our racing is putting on. There’s tremendous confidence in the product we have to offer our fans and partners.”