“I think back to the first race, having no idea what we got ourselves into, or candidly, what we were doing. To see this come around, us have 99 races. When we figured out this was number 100, we were kind of in awe. “, said Matt Lederer, executive director of partnership marketing at Comcast of the 100th race.
This is year four of a ten-year contract for Comcast. Lederer said that this is something unique to the company for taking on this venture.
“Our partners at NASCAR. We don’t do a lot of long‑term deals. This is a 10‑year deal. This is year four. We have more than a hundred races left to go. We don’t do those very often. They’re scary for us because our business changes and our business evolves almost on a daily basis.”
Despite the scary circumstances, things have turned out quite well for the title sponsor.
“The other thing I look back on and look forward to growing is how we’ve been able to use this massive platform. We were looking today at the partner summit. To see 58 million viewers, billions on social, the digital growth. To be able to use this platform as a company and take it and give back to the community, from a Comcast brand standpoint, that’s been amazing.”
With Xfinity coming on three years ago, a new brand motto came in, “Names Are Made Here”. As NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Jill Gregory explains, the motto has lived up to its name so far.
“We work with them day in and day out on not just how we market the series and market to their customers, but also some of the competition changes that you’ve seen, different tweaks that we’ve made to the formats, Matt and his team have been right at the table with us. It’s been a huge partnership.
“Matt and his team have always been very involved in the Names Are Made Here positioning. It’s great to see it come to life with the drivers on my left.”
The four drivers that joined Matt and Jill on the podium were Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, William Byron and Daniel Suarez. All four of those drivers have taken part in helping the motto live up to its name.
Bell is making is first full series start in the Xfinity Series after winning the Camping World Truck Series Championship in 2017.
“It’s special to be a part of XFINITY’s 100th race. I remember watching the first race a couple years ago. It’s pretty special to be a part of it. The Names Are Made Here slogan is perfect. I want to follow in these guys’ footsteps and create my own name.” said Bell.
Buescher won the Xfinity series Championship in the companies 1st season as the title sponsor. He immediately moved up to the Cup Series and has been racing full time in the Cup series since 2016.
Suarez won the Championship in 2016 and then followed Buescher’s footsteps, making his way to the Cup series racing under Joe Gibbs Racing. Even though he made the jump, he continues to make starts in the Xfinity series out of pure love and joy of racing.
“Just excited to be here, excited to put my name in that list of Names Are Made Here. I’m going to be racing this Saturday afternoon, so I’m still excited of every time that Joe Gibbs, my team, Coach Gibbs, asks me the question if I want to keep racing XFINITY. I don’t wait two seconds to say, Yeah, put me in the car, we’ll be having some fun.”
Bryron, like his predecessors, won the Xfinity Championship last season and entered 2018 as the full-time driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet with Hendrick Motorsports. Byron embraced the opportunities and changes that Xfinity brought to the series.
“I would say that was cool, winning the Dash 4 Cash at Dover. Then the wins we had, the way Xfinity was able to market myself and other drivers, kind of get us out in the spotlight, bridge the gap between us and the Cup Series, was really important.
“Obviously the Xfinity championship was the coolest part of last year. I always look back on that as something that I’ll keep in mind. You never have a chance to really do that again. That was really special.”
As NASCAR continues to see driver fan favorites bow out of the sport like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick have, the ability to continue the successful transition of young drivers in the spotlight has been and will continue to be essential to the growth of the sport. Being able to see the driver graduate from Xfnitity series and make the jump to Cup is something that Xfinity and NASCAR have embraced.
“We love it. It’s a testament to what we’re doing. Also candidly, when they go to the Cup Series, have success, they know who we are. They know what our brand is. Not only are we the series partner, we’re the official entertainment provider of NASCAR. As we want to do things and grow into the Cup Series, we don’t have to re-educate these guys too much. We love it.” says Lederer.
You can watch the 100th Xfinity Series race this Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in the PowerShares QQQ 300 at 2:30 p.m. or you can watch it on TV by tuning into FS1.