Budweiser Reportedly Shopping New Sponsorship; Pepsi May Make Earnhardt Play
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Autism Speaks 400. (Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR) It's expected that PepsiCo Inc., possibly with the Mountain Dew brand or a combination of Pepsi products, will sponsor Earnhardt next season in the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick.
And Anheuser-Busch is negotiating with Evernham Motorsports to possibly move the Bud sponsorship to Kasey Kahne's No. 9 Dodge next season.
Budweiser officials also have contacted officials at Lowe's Motor Speedway about the possibility of holding a news conference at the Lowe's Speedway Club next week if a new team sponsorship agreement is reached.
An Evernham Motorsports official said Tuesday that no agreement has been reached with Budweiser and that the Evernham marketing department was talking to several other companies about potential sponsorships for 2008.
Team owner Ray Evernham has an agreement with Dodge, through the Dodge Dealers, to sponsor both Kahne's car and the No. 19 Dodge of Elliott Sadler through 2010.
The Dodge dealers would have to sign off on any deal to allow Budweiser to move to Kahne's car.
One source close to the negotiations told ESPN.com that it's still possible Budweiser could stay at Dale Earnhardt Inc., depending on whom DEI signs to replace Earnhardt.
Budweiser has sponsored Earnhardt and the No. 8 Chevrolet at DEI since the racer's rookie season of 2000.
But Budweiser officials now have targeted four other drivers they would consider sponsoring next season, including Kahne. The other three drivers are not known.
Pepsi has been an associate sponsor at Hendrick Motorsports for Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevy, and sometimes appears on the hood, including at the Pepsi 400 on Saturday night at Daytona.
International Speedway Corp. is ending its association with Pepsi after signing a new deal with Coca-Cola this week.
So Pepsi officials want to increase their exposure by sponsoring Earnhardt, but it could be a combination of its soft drink and sports drink brands --