Another recognizable and long-tenured NASCAR sponsor is leaving the Cup Series.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Mars announced on Monday that 2022 would be the company’s final season sponsoring two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Mars has been the primary sponsor for Busch since he joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 and has been a sponsor in NASCAR since the 1990s.
“One of the great things I love about NASCAR is the opportunity to build meaningful relationships,” Joe Gibbs said in a statement. “Mars has been a tremendous example of that. We have experienced so much together over the past 15 years, including two Cup Series championships while developing friendships that will extend well beyond next year.”
Busch’s M&Ms No. 18 has become one of the most recognizable cars in NASCAR since he came to Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch captured both the 2015 and 2019 Cup Series titles while driving an M&Ms car and has scored 46 Cup Series wins in cars sponsored by Mars brands.
According to the Sports Business Journal, Mars told JGR that it would be leaving in the summer of 2021 to give the team time to find a new primary sponsor. No replacement sponsorship has been announced.
Mars joins major companies and brands like Lowe’s, Home Depot, 5-Hour Energy, Target, Dollar General and Sprint that have exited or are exiting NASCAR entirely over the past decade. The United States’ largest auto racing sanctioning body has seen fans gradually leave over the past 15 years while team costs have only gotten more and more expensive. The addition of Mars to the list above is a body blow to a series that is still trying to figure out where it now fits on the sports landscape after an early and mid-2000s boom.
NASCAR is attempting to rein in costs in 2022 with a brand new Cup Series car built primarily from vendor parts so teams save money by not building their own. But the up front costs of those cars have not been insignificant and it still remains to be seen if the promised cost savings will materialize in the next few seasons.