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NHMS and Sylvania reach 5-year agreement

Amid an increasingly difficult economic climate for NASCAR teams and track promoters, New Hampshire Motor Speedway Tuesday announced it had reached a five-year sponsorship extension with Sylvania through 2017.

Sylvania, which is based in Danvers, will remain the title sponsor of the Sylvania 300 at NHMS, the track’s fall event in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

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“It’s our second renewal with them since [Speedway Motorsports Inc.] bought the track five years ago,’’ said NHMS executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens, speaking by phone from Charlotte, N.C., where the announcement was made at NASCAR’s preseason media tour.

“But it speaks volumes on several fronts, No. 1 with the economy the way it’s been not only for the speedway, but also for the sport of NASCAR. I think the continuity is very important. We’ve got a long partnership of working closely together to build the Sylvania 300 into a marquee event in the Chase.’’

According to Gappens, the 15-year bond with Sylvania ranks as the third-longest title sponsorship in NASCAR, behind Coca-Cola and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 23-year association and Food City and Bristol Motor Speedway’s 21-year partnership.

“I think it’s quite a tribute to the fans of the speedway for supporting it,’’ said Gappens, who hosted a group of Sylvania officials at last fall’s Chase race to conduct negotiations on an extension. “They were so impressed with that crowd last September. We were right at near-capacity and they took notice of that.

“You didn’t see any empty aluminum [grandstands] like you’re seeing at some of the other places. I think that helped solidify their look on it. They had some of their top brass here looking at it for the first time and they walked away really impressed.

“So I think it’s good news and nice to have them solidified for the next five years.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.
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