Watkins Glen International has a new title sponsor for its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race next month.
The storied track in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York has inked a one-year deal with the state. I LOVE NEW YORK, the state's tourism arm, has agreed to partner with the historic facility to present the Cup race on Aug. 6.
"This is going to allow us to help put I LOVE NEW YORK to the forefront of broadcasts in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and more," WGI president Michael Printup said.
The I LOVE NEW YORK 355 replaces the Cheez-it 355 at The Glen, and this year qualifying for the 90-lap event around the 2.45-mile layout will be staged on race day. The Glen is the third track in the Cup Series to make the switch, joining Pocono Raceway and Martinsville.
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"It'll make race day a little more hectic, but it's good for the fan experience," track spokesman Chris Banker said Wednesday.
NASCAR's second-tier Xfinity Series qualifies and races on Saturdays at The Glen, which also will host a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race on Friday (Aug. 4).
Cheez-It had been the title sponsor of the Cup Series event for the past four years. It was parent company Kellogg's first race entitlement sponsorship, although Kellogg has been involved with NASCAR since 1991.
Kellogg announced last October that it would not renew its agreements with Watkins Glen International, International Speedway Corp. (ISC), and Roush Fenway Racing.
Budweiser was the title sponsor for Cup races at WGI from 1986-98 and there had been six other sponsors before Cheez-It began its run.
Printup was effusive in his praise of state officials for agreeing at the 11th hour to sponsor the event, which has sold out the past two years, a figure pegged at around 100,000 (ISC does not release attendance figures). He says sales are trending toward another sellout and aptly called Watkins Glen "an anomaly" as NASCAR copes with declines in television viewership and on-track attendance.
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Watkins Glen hosted the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday and there was traffic backup of at least 2 miles before the race. Printup said he was confident that crowd totals would be a record for the IMSA event once the counting is complete.