Story By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – One of the most recognizable partnerships in all of sports has returned with vigor as NASCAR and Anheuser-Busch announced Wednesday the return of the “Busch Pole Award” in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and that Busch will serve as the “Official Beer of NASCAR.”
“They talk about heritage and being true to their values as core tenets of their brand and I think that fits very well with what NASCAR is and what it represents as well,’’ said Lou Garate, NASCAR vice president, partnership.
“It’s a good fit. It’s a good win for everybody overall.”
It’s certainly a sentimental nod to NASCAR’s storied past and an exciting partnership to guide the sport’s future.
Anheuser-Busch first sponsored the Pole Award 40 years ago in 1978 and was the sport’s “Official Beer’ from 1988-1997.
Two of the brand’s last pole winners are iconic names in the sport. Retired driver Geoff Bodine won the last “Busch Pole Award” at Atlanta Motor Speedway. And seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson – who drives the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports – won the last pole sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, at Homestead in 1997.
And the brand’s current driver, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, will be showing up at his home state track, Auto Club Speedway this weekend looking to win four consecutive races — a feat not seen in the Monster Energy Series since 2007.
“We’re really excited,’’ said Chelsea Phillips, Anheuser-Busch vice president, value and beyond beer brands. “I think this is going to be a really fun time and Kevin Harvick has already started the season off with a pretty good roll.
“We’re excited to be further integrated into the sport. We see a lot of value in NASCAR and the loyalty of the fans and want to continue to become integrated and locked in a way, we have the team and the tracks and now we can talk about the league through the pole [award].
“It just gives us one more touch point to be able to interact with the fans in a way that’s important to us. We have a lot of history in the sport and are excited to be coming back to the pole.”
In addition to the grand roll out of the Busch Pole Award at Auto Club Speedway, the new partnership has the potential to recognize the four previous 2018 pole winners as “Busch Pole Award” winners should their team participate in the reward program.
“To have the younger generation come in and help us carry that [brand recognition] along – as well as those who have the memories from the past – it’s another piece of the story but one that happens to have that heritage and harkens back to those really good times,” Phillips said.
“It’s just a perfect space to be able to engage in a two-way dialogue with fans. It’s something we’re passionate about as a brand and something they are passionate about as fans.”