Walmart could jump in as Jeff Gordon's main sponsor

August 25, 2010

Jeff Gordon's management team and retail giant Walmart are deep into negotiations with Hendrick Motorsports over sponsorship of Gordon's No. 24 Chevy next season. Talks began in the spring and have heated up in the summer. Reports indicate Walmart is looking into sponsorship and licensing opportunities.

It would be a big economic boost for NASCAR to attract new sponsorship money during tough economic times.

"It's very significant," Mark Dyer, senior vice president at IMG and formerly chief of licensing at NASCAR until 2007, told the Sports Business Journal. "We tried for years to get Walmart's attention when I was at NASCAR, and we made some inroads. If they truly decide to take a position in the sport, that's a big deal to get a company that should have been in that space all along."

Although DuPont has been Gordon's primary sponsor since he became a full-time driver in 1992, the latest contract between DuPont and Hendrick Motorsports ends this year.

Double-dipping tacky? NASCAR remains uncommitted to the possibility of making full-time Sprint Cup drivers ineligible to win the Nationwide championship. There's no reason to dawdle.

"Busch-wackers," as they were called when the series had another sponsor, are like a major-league pitcher who drops down to Triple A on weekends just for fun. It's a particularly annoying habit involving Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard — the only drivers double-dipping full time.

Understandably, it's good for business because Cup drivers attract more fans and are more adept at raising sponsorship money.

That said, it just doesn't feel right.

Vickers set to return: Red Bull Racing driver Brian Vickers said he expects to return to the Sprint Cup series in 2011 after stepping away for much of this season because of significant medical issues.

Blood clots were discovered in his left leg and lungs in May, causing Vickers to take off the rest of the season.

Extensive tests determined Vickers had a hole between the right and left atrium in his heart. He was diagnosed with May-Thurner Syndrome, a rare condition that puts a patient at risk of more blood clots and possible stroke. Vickers, 26, had open- heart surgery to repair the hole July 12.

"(Doctors) gave me full clearance for next year," Vickers said last week. "I will be back in January. I'm real excited about that.

"I had two issues I never knew about fixed. … They feel I'm probably in the best shape of my life."

— George Diaz

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