FREIGHTLINER Trucks announced its sponsorship as official hauler of NASCAR at a press conference February 17, just days before the Daytona 500. The company returns as a 2006 sponsor of individual NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing teams and will host a series of pre-race events called The Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge.
For the 2006 racing season, Freightliner Trucks will sponsor the following individual NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series teams: Evernham Motorsports; Dale Earnhardt Inc (DEI); Penske Racing South; Hendrick Motorsports; Petty Enterprises; Haas CNC Racing; Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabatas; BAM Racing; Akins Motorsports; Rusty Wallace Racing Inc; Jr Motorsports; Fitz-Bradshaw Racing; and Michael Waltrip Racing.
As an associate sponsor of 13 racing teams, the Freightliner Trucks logo will appear on each team's racecar, driver suit, crew uniforms, and the heavy-duty transporter vehicles.
Freightliner's Coronado and Classic XL heavy-duty truck models will transport the sponsored racecars and team equipment from race to race for the entire 2006 NASCAR season. Medium-duty Freightliner Business Class M2 SportChassis models also will haul NASCAR equipment and scoring trailers. In addition, some teams use the M2s as box trucks and roll backs as well, hauling show cars and engines.
“Freightliner Trucks has supplied Evernham Motorsports with outstanding support and first-class vehicles for five years running,” said Ray Evernham, owner of Evernham Motorsports. “Our drivers have nothing but great things to say about the quality and performance of the Coronados. We are truly excited to continue our relationship with the Freightliner organization into the 2006 season and beyond.”
2006 will also mark the first year of the Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge, an event that showcases NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series hauler drivers demonstrating their truck driving skills in Freightliner's top-of-the-line heavy-duty Coronado model. Drivers will maneuver through an obstacle course and test skills such as parallel parking and backing up around curves.
“The hauler challenge is about skill and control, not speed. The course simulates real-life driving situations,” said Jonathon Randall, Freightliner director of product marketing. He added that the hauler drivers take the competition very seriously, not only for the personal pride of being the best, but for the $35,000 grand prize, $15,000 second prize, and $5,000 third prize.
The hauler challenges will be held on the same racetracks as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and are scheduled to take place before the races. The first competition will narrow the contenders to 16, with the fifth and final competition pitting the top two hauler drivers against each other. Dates and locations of the hauler challenge are:
Thursday, March 9, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas NV.
Thursday, May 18, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte NC.
Friday, July 7, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet IL.
Saturday, October 7, Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega AL.
Sunday, November 5, Texas Motor Speedway, Dallas TX (finals).