NASCAR Sprint Cup: Matching Each Driver With What Should Be His Sponsor
Earlier this month, Jimmie Johnson won his fifth consecutive title in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet while Denny Hamlin came up just short in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota.
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet, and Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, had a memorable brawl at Texas Motor Speedway in a shocking moment involving two of the sport's most well-mannered drivers.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, struggled through another rough season with a 21st-place finish in the Sprint Cup points standings.
Of course, points positions are a watermark for each team's individual performance throughout the season.
What if sponsors also followed the same format as well?
Here are ideal sponsors for the top 30 drivers in this season's Sprint Cup standings.
30. Scott Speed
2010 sponsor: Red Bull.
Should be sponsored by: For the sake of irony, Ambien prescription sleep aids. Despite his last name, Speed has been anything but fast in two seasons with Red Bull Racing, tallying just two top-10 finishes last season.
With Kasey Kahne entering the Red Bull fold in 2011, Speed's days with wings are likely numbered.
29. Sam Hornish Jr.
2010 Sponsor: Mobil 1.
Should be sponsored by: IZOD, because he probably wishes he was still in the IndyCar Series. After leaving Penske's IndyCar operation after the 2007 season to fully pursue NASCAR aspirations within the organization, Hornish has continued to struggle.
With just one top-10 finish this season and sponsor Mobil 1 leaving for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2011, his immediate future is in question.
28. Regan Smith
2010 Sponsor: Furniture Row.
Should be sponsored by: Dollar General, due to what the No. 78 has accomplished on a shoestring budget.
27. Elliott Sadler
2010 Sponsor: Stanley Tools/Hunt Brothers Pizza/Air Force.
Should be sponsored by: Nationwide Insurance, because he's heading to the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season.
After another season of struggles with Richard Petty Motorsports, Sadler is joining Kevin Harvick Inc. as driver of the No. 2 CitiFinancial Chevrolet for the entire Nationwide Series slate next season.
26. Marcos Ambrose
2010 Sponsor: Kingsford/Clorox.
Should be sponsored by: Foster's, because he could use a cold one after the uncertainly of his ride for next season.
The "Tasmanian Devil" announced his move to the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports last summer after Bobby Labonte was named driver of the No. 47 Toyota for JTG-Daugherty Racing for the 2011 season.
However, it appeared as if his future was in doubt as RPM went through a myriad of financial issues throughout the fall months. Luckily, the team will continue as a two-car operation next season—Ambrose's team included.
25. Brad Keselowski
2010 Sponsor: AAA/Penske Racing (Verizon funds the team, but cannot appear on the car).
Should be sponsored by: Kellogg's Special K cereal, due to his nickname.
24. David Ragan
2010 Sponsor: UPS.
Should be sponsored by: BIC Wite-Out correcting fluid, because Roush Fenway Racing may have cut the wrong driver loose (Jamie McMurray) after the 2009 season.
23. Paul Menard
2010 Sponsor: Menards.
Should be sponsored by: Menards. He wouldn't be in the Sprint Cup Series without his father's hardware store empire, which carries him to Richard Childress Racing in 2011.
22. Martin Truex Jr.
2010 Sponsor: NAPA Auto Parts.
Should be sponsored by: Rockstar Energy Drink, as Truex provided Michael Waltrip Racing with another boost of energy during the 2010 season.
21. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2010 Sponsor: Amp Energy/National Guard.
Should be sponsored by: Gatorade. It wouldn't be hard to actually make this happen, as both Amp and Gatorade are owned by Pepsi.
After a rough 2010 season with Lance McGrew at the helm, "Little E" will look to revitalize his career from a new energy source next season in the form of new crew chief Steve Letarte, coming over from Jeff Gordon's team.
20. Kasey Kahne
2010 Sponsor: Budweiser/Red Bull.
Should be sponsored by: Oakley sunglasses, as his future may be so bright that he'll need to wear shades.
After leaving Richard Petty Motorsports in October, Kahne began his career as a member of Red Bull Racing as driver of the No. 83 Toyota. Joining a returning Brian Vickers at the organization in 2011, it is an almost certainty that both drivers could contend to make the Chase.
Add in a move to the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, and the best may be yet to come for Kahne.
19. A.J. Allmendinger
2010 Sponsor: Best Buy/Valvoline.
Should be sponsored by: Well, Best Buy. Allmendinger is the best option for a struggling RPM operation at this point, moving from four cars to two for the 2011 campaign.
He's come a long way from failing to qualify for races with Red Bull, as he tallied two top-five and eight top-10 finishes last season—both career bests.
18. David Reutimann
2010 Sponsor: Aaron's/Tums.
Should be sponsored by: Any product endorsed by Darrell Waltrip. "Ol' DW" loves the guy.
17. Juan Pablo Montoya
2010 Sponsor: Target.
Should be sponsored by: A product that can get the target off of the No. 42 Chevrolet's back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, after another pit miscue ruined another dominant performance at the Brickyard 400.
16. Joey Logano
2010 Sponsor: The Home Depot.
Should be sponsored by: GameStop. The guy's not even 21 yet. Why should he endorse a home improvement workshop?
15. Ryan Newman
2010 Sponsor: U.S. Army/Tornados.
Should be sponsored by: Johnny Rocket's restaurants, due to his always-stellar qualifying results.
14. Jamie McMurray
2010 Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops/McDonald's.
Should be sponsored by: Kleenex, due to his tearful Victory Lane celebrations at the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400—two of his career-high three victories during the 2010 campaign.
13. Mark Martin
2010 Sponsor: GoDaddy.com/HendrickCars.com.
Should be sponsored by: AARP Foundation's Drive to End Hunger, Jeff Gordon's primary sponsor for 2011. Martin will turn 52 on Jan. 9.
12. Jeff Burton
2010 Sponsor: Caterpillar.
Should be sponsored by: Coca-Cola. Even under the most stressful of situations (see: the Texas brawl with Jeff Gordon), he always seems to keep his cool.
11. Kurt Busch
2010 Sponsor: Miller Lite.
Should be sponsored by: Sony's noise-canceling headphones. After a stellar first 13 races with two wins and an All-Star race victory, Kurt Busch virtually disappeared after that, quietly making the Chase and becoming a non-factor.
10. Clint Bowyer
2010 Sponsor: Cheerios/BB&T.
Should be sponsored by: The NASCAR Performance Network. Therefore, his team could be "Car Care Aware," in light of crippling penalties after a victory in the first Chase race in New Hampshire.
9. Jeff Gordon
2010 Sponsor: DuPont/Pepsi Max.
Should be sponsored by: GoDaddy.com/HendrickCars.com. See the Mark Martin entry for further explanation.
8. Kyle Busch
2010 Sponsor: M&M's/Snickers/Doublemint/Combos.
Should be sponsored by: Walmart. Much like Walmart dominates the American shopping landscape, Busch dominates in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
7. Tony Stewart
2010 Sponsor: Office Depot/Old Spice.
Should be sponsored by: Considering his nickname is "Smoke," how about Char-Broil or Weber grills?
6. Greg Biffle
2010 Sponsor: 3M/Census 2010.
Should be sponsored by: Since his pit crew is referred to as the "Pit Bulls," Matador beef jerky on the No. 16 Ford would be a great fit.
5. Matt Kenseth
2010 Sponsor: Crown Royal/Jeremiah Weed/Valvoline.
Should be sponsored by: Since Kenseth is a Wisconsin native, Miller Lite may be a better fit for him than it is for Kurt Busch.
4. Carl Edwards
2010 Sponsor: Aflac/Scotts/Kellogg's/Subway.
Should be sponsored by: Edwards is obviously known for his strenuous fitness regimen, landing the cover of ESPN the Magazine at one point sans shirt to show his physique. Thus, Muscle Milk would be a perfect fit.
3. Kevin Harvick
2010 Sponsor: Shell Pennzoil/Reese's.
Should be sponsored by: Behind his "Happy" nickname is a sometimes gruff demeanor. As a result, he should be sponsored by Budweiser, a working man's beer. (And oddly enough, he is next season.)
2. Denny Hamlin
2010 Sponsor: FedEx.
Should be sponsored by: Judging by the No. 11 team's struggles in the final two races of the Chase, the Animal Planet show Pit Boss may be interested in adorning the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2010 Sponsor: Lowe's.
Should be sponsored by: Lowe's. Why mess with a dynasty?
Thoughts or suggestions? Comment below.
Ryan Papaserge is a junior journalism/mass communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.