Thumbing its big corporate nose in NASCAR's direction, AT&T announced Monday it will continue to sponsor Richard Childress Racing through 2010. And, yes, that means they intend to keep the AT&T logo on Jeff Burton's car. Also on Monday, Burton signed a contract extension with RCR.
The next big matchup between these two is Aug. 2, when NASCAR gets to appeal the injunction AT&T won that allows its logos to replace Cingular's on Burton's No. 31 ride.
Trust us, this ain't over yet, and as several commenters pointed out, the big losers are the race fans.
Read the full press release from Richard Childress Racing on the jump.
ATLANTA, June 18, 2007 - AT&T (NYSE: T) has exercised the option in its current contract with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) by signing a contract extension that will ensure that the popular No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet remains a competitor in the NASCAR Cup Series for years to come.
At the same time, Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet, has reached agreement with RCR on a contract extension with the 10-time NASCAR championship-winning organization.
"As long-time supporters of racing and its fans, we are very pleased to continue our involvement with the sport as a team sponsor in the wireless category," said Dave Garver, executive director of high growth segments and sponsorships for the wireless division at AT&T. "We've enjoyed our relationship with Jeff and RCR, and look forward to continuing to work with them through many more winning seasons.
"In the past decade, we've developed innovative ways to bring fans closer to racing, with interactive content that can be accessed via their wireless handsets, alerts sent directly to their phones and on-the-ground activities promoting wireless services at and around racing events. We're looking ahead, planning even more engaging ways to bring the latest in wireless technology to fans."
AT&T, as Cingular, has been the primary sponsor of RCR's No. 31 team since 2002. In that time, with Burton and Robby Gordon behind the wheel, the team has earned four wins, four pole positions, 22 top-five and 54 top-10 finishes.
"AT&T has been an important part of RCR since 2002 so we're very excited about renewing our contract with them and continuing that great relationship," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "AT&T has been a tremendous supporter of RCR's fans and racing fans throughout the sport for more than a decade and I am eager to turn our full attention back to winning a championship.
"Jeff has been an important piece of the puzzle since he arrived at RCR in 2004. He's helped our entire organization since that time and will continue in that role. He's a true professional, whether it's with his crew or with sponsors, so we're very pleased to have him signed to a new long-term contract."
Burton began driving for RCR in August 2004 and was named the driver of its No. 31 team for the 2005 NASCAR Cup Series season. He has earned two victories, four pole positions, 15 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes in 85 races driving the No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet.
"I'm really excited about AT&T extending their involvement with RCR. They've been a great company to work with," said Burton. "They have great people and great products. It's a real honor to represent AT&T both on and off the track."
"My enthusiasm about what we are doing at RCR is as high as it's ever been. I've never even considered doing something different. I'm glad we were able to re-sign with AT&T so that Richard and I could get our deal done. It's a real honor to drive for Richard and I am looking forward to continue working with him over the next few years."
AT&T, formerly Cingular, has sponsored a NASCAR Cup Series team for 10 years, and is in its sixth season with RCR's No. 31 Chevrolet program.
1994 – BellSouth branded car makes debut in the Busch series
1997 – BellSouth car makes debut in the Cup series
2001 – Cingular branded car makes debut in the Cup series
2002 – Cingular and RCR sign a three-year contract through 2004
2004 – Jeff Burton named driver of No. 31 Cingular Chevrolet
2005 – Cingular renews its contract with RCR through 2007
2007 – AT&T branded car makes debut in the Cup series
2007 – AT&T and RCR sign contract extension through 2010