East Carolina's foray into NASCAR sponsorship has hit a wall.
Sunday's Monster Energy Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was slated to be the second of a three-race deal in which Rick Ware Racing's No. 51 Chevrolet featured ECU's colors and logos.
The race team informed the university Wednesday that it is going in a different direction because the sponsorships it expected the purple and gold car to generate did not materialize.
The original deal was announced May 28, an agreement in which the race team would decal its car at no cost to ECU as part of an initiative to introduce colleges and universities from across the country to the world of NASCAR marketing.
That plan, however, was contingent on the racing team securing paid sponsorships, ostensibly from Pirate supporters, to offset the cost. The No. 51 car was purple and gold at Dover International Speedway on June 4, a race in which driver Cody Ware finished 35th, but the team ran largely out of pocket.
According to Rick Ware Racing marketing director Bryan Clodfelter, the lack of sponsorships will force the #51 car, driven this week by B.J. McLeod, to take the track at Indy without a skull and crossbones on the hood.
Clodfelter said he has talked with potential sponsors in Greenville and across the state about sponsoring the car but was unable to drum up support. He said the team would have needed to secure at least $10,000 to put ECU decals on the car this weekend but hasn't ruled out a future race.
The ECUAthletics Twitter account posted Wednesday at 5 p.m.: "We thank RWR for their partnership at Dover and hope corporate sponsors will be in place before the race in Richmond on Sept. 9, thus allowing ECU to return to the track."
--- Greenville DAILY REFLECTOR ---