Kannapolis, NC – In a press conference earlier today at the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) headquarters in Kannapolis, N.C., Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online mortgage lender, announced that it will double down on its partnership with SHR and Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Through the new agreement, Quicken Loans will serve as Newman’s primary sponsor for 18 Sprint Cup races in 2013, marking the majority of the season. When not the primary sponsor, the company will be an associate sponsor on Newman’s Chevrolet. Additionally, Quicken Loans will remain as an associate sponsor on the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet driven by three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart throughout the 2013 season.
The company also announced details of its newly launched Skip-a-Year Sweepstakes, which will pay up to five entrants’ mortgages for a full year. By visiting www.qlracing.com, fans will be able to enter the sweepstakes, earn multiple entries to win the grand prize of a yearlong vacation from their mortgage, or one of the other prizes, including memorabilia signed by both Newman and Stewart. The promotion runs through Nov. 18, 2012.
Below is a transcript of the press conference.
TONY STEWART: Driver/owner, Stewart-Haas Racing
RYAN NEWMAN: Driver, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet
JAY FARNER: President, Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken Loans
MODERATOR: “Good morning. Thank you very much for coming to Stewart-Haas Racing. Some big news here today. First off we’ll go over the flow of the event. Want to introduce everybody here, but at the same time, they’ll have some prepared remarks, and we’ll open it up to a Q & A session.
“A man who needs no introduction, the driver/owner of Stewart Haas Racing, Tony Stewart, Jay Farner, President and chief marketing officer of Quicken Loans, and Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing.
“Jay, I’ll start off with you. Your rookie year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is nearly complete. How has the experience with NASCAR, more specifically with Stewart Haas Racing been, and what does the future hold for Quicken Loans?”
JAY FARNER: “Very exciting year. 2012 has been great, and I think we’ve learned a ton. That was the thing we weren’t sure of. What can you do with NASCAR? We knew we loved the fan base. They were so loyal and committed to the brands, but there’s a lot. It’s like drinking from a fire hose. There is a lot to learn.
“So we’ve picked up a ton, learned a lot, and that’s what got us so excited about focusing on 2013. I think most importantly was the partnership that we developed with Ryan, of course, as the primary here, and, Tony and all of Stewart- Haas Racing. We just felt like it was a great partnership.
“So how do we take what we’ve learned and do more? So we’ve decided to double down, is the expression that we’ve been using. My friend Aaron Emerson keeps using it, and I like it, so we’re doubling down. Instead of nine races like 2012, we’ll go ahead and be the leader and primary sponsor for Ryan and do 18 races in 2013.”
MODERATOR: “In addition to that doubling down, a lot of activation going on. You guys have a very unique promotion. Talk a little bit about that because it’s something every homeowner would absolutely love to be a part of.
JAY FARNER: “We’ve been talking about NASCAR, and one of the things we do at Quicken Loans is we focus on putting our clients in the driver’s seat. It sounds so simple, but it took us a while to make the connection. So we thought about racing, and of course, we’re focused on speed and getting people to the closing table quickly. But we really said it’s about putting them in the driver’s seat and putting them in control.
“That’s what we love so much about NASCAR. We’ve done some other racing events as you probably know. We sponsored part of the Detroit Grand Prix. We did the Quicken Loans 400.
“But what we really wanted to do to put them in the driver’s seat here as we announce 2013 was come up with something great for our clients and for the fans of NASCAR. So we’re announcing the skip a year sweepstakes at Quicken Loans. The idea is up to five people can get their entire mortgage paid for all of 2013, by Quicken Loans.
“So we’re talking about what we think is a life changing event, when you think about not making your mortgage payment for an entire year. We’re confident that Stewart-Haas Racing and Ryan can get that message across, and we can get as many people as possible to sign up and go to Quicken Loans Racing, and get the chance to win a year free of mortgage payments.”
THE MODERATOR: “Ryan, you’re really the face of the campaign, the driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet. Talk a little bit about being the point person for this campaign, and how that will double in scope next year?”
RYAN NEWMAN: “Looking back at the 2012 season we’ve only done five races so far with Quicken Loans, so we have four races left, and are really excited to represent them still in 2012 before we even get into our 2013 year. But they have been a great partner, really got the chance to meet everybody in Detroit that makes the big decisions, and just a really great office, lot of great people. Their programs with their sweepstakes and how they tie in the fans to their product and the mortgage side of it is really great.
“Just looking forward to getting them into Victory Lane in the four races we have yet this year. Obviously, 2013 is going to be big for us, so just really thankful for the opportunity and an honor to represent them.”
MODERATOR: “Tony Stewart, as the car owner here at Stewart-Haas Racing, certainly your resolve has been a bit tested this year. But how rewarding is it to develop a new sponsor in the sport, and then see them double their commitment to the sport in year two?”
TONY STEWART: “It’s exciting, obviously. I was excited. I don’t know if Jay knows I’ve entered the sweepstakes because if they can pay my mortgage for the year, I’m going to be really happy.”
JAY FARNER: “There are limits on how much we’ll pay for guys like you, just so you know that.”
TONY STEWART: “Okay. But anyway, it’s very exciting. I think that’s something that Stewart-Haas Racing is proud of from day one – bringing in partners from the sport of NASCAR racing, to see them in their first year double their return on their investment, that is something that we’re extremely proud of.
“That is an attitude that we have that is different from a lot of the race teams, that it’s not a about a sponsor and a partner writing a check so we can go race. It’s about us trying to meet the needs and accomplish the goals that they have.
“So it makes us really proud to have Quicken on board again, and to see them double their commitment with the race team, it just makes us that much more excited to see us continue our efforts to make sure we’re accomplishing their goals and needs. They’ve been a great company to work with.
“Jay and his staff are unbelievable. Very, very giving of their time, and definitely have become a huge part of our family here at SHR. So we’re very, very excited and appreciative of their efforts.”
Q. Talk about why sponsor Ryan Newman, and what you like in him? As he said, you have four races left this year. You’ve gotten to know him as a driver and a person.
RYAN NEWMAN: “Don’t be honest.”
JAY FARNER: “It’s the only way I know how to be. Like everything we do in life, it’s about who you partner with. You’ve got to pick people who you trust, who you respect, who align with your values and your goals. I think that’s what we’ve learned.
“We don’t measure everything in a four month or six month period of time. We think big picture. We’re just super confident in these guys right here, and in Ryan representing us and representing our brand. So we thought about 18 races, getting a jump start on things, and really taking the brand to the next level.
“There is not a better guy to be there, talking about your brand, representing your brand, than Ryan and Stewart-Haas Racing. So that was the big decision.
“Once you make that decision, and you find somebody that you connect with. Then all of the other things are just about execution, and we’re confident we can do that. So that was the big driver.”
Q. As a co-owner of the team, what are the logistics of getting sponsorship, and of course, going for new sponsorship? Do you go to them? Do they come to you or is it a mutual thing?
TONY STEWART: “I think obviously, we had a void that was left when the U.S. Army announced that they had to pull away. So we went to our existing partners right away, and, like we said, Quicken had just started in the sport with us this year.
“But we had developed a really good relationship right off the bat, and felt like it was a great opportunity to expand what we were doing with Quicken, and we gave those guys the opportunity first, and it was something that made sense for both sides.
“Obviously, like we mentioned a minute ago, if it doesn’t make sense for our partners, we don’t try to ask something of them that’s not going to make sense. But we felt like this was a good opportunity for both of us to expand what they had done, and also at the same time fill a void for us, so it was a perfect opportunity.”
Q. You’ve got a lot of inventory for next year. How big is it to get the first puzzle piece in place? Does this help you with the other pieces you need?
TONY STEWART: “It’s definitely a huge step, obviously. That’s why I’m so appreciative of Jay and his staff to help us out with this. It’s great to see that they’ve had a successful first year, and it’s great to hopefully keep expanding this and making this bigger and better for them.
“So it’s a huge first step in filling in a couple of large voids. So hopefully we’ll have a domino effect with this, and hopefully it will get the rest of the inventory taken care of where we can worry about building fast race cars and getting good results for them.”
Q. Tony, can you tell us right now where you guys stand as far as open inventory? Does this get Ryan close to the field and where you are on yours? Also, update us on the news from the weekend about Ryan potentially getting a new crew chief next year?
TONY STEWART: “We’re still working on mine getting taken care of, obviously, for next year. We feel like we have a couple of good leads that will hopefully help us get this done before the end of the year. So I’m pretty excited that we’ll hopefully have all of that taken care of before the season actually ends.
“We’ve obviously sat down and tried to figure out like we do every year to figure out what we can do to make our teams better. Obviously you have Danica coming on board, trying to figure out what is going to be the best combination for drivers and crew chiefs. So there have been a lot of options discussed, but no decisions have been made yet.
“So we’re definitely looking at all of our options internally and outside the company too.”
Q. Ryan, you signed a one year extension to be with this team next year. Getting a sponsor like this to re-up and double down, how does that bode for your long term prospects for the team.
RYAN NEWMAN: “Good, for sure. Without a doubt it’s nice to have a direction of who your partners are going to be. Then, from a contract point of view, the one year extension is just that. It matches that with Quicken Loans, and if Quicken Loans has an even better experience in these next four races and in all of 2013. There is potential that they can become bigger and the relationship can grow to a long term deal.
“So without a doubt it’s a big first step in the right direction for me from a long term contract standpoint.
Q. Jay, why are most of your races near the end of this season? And next year, are they more strung throughout the year or is this the time of year that you want to be on the car?
JAY FARNER: “When we got started, we got a jump on this a bit late. So we wanted to think about the races that were the most impactful to us and have time to plan for them. So I think we went towards a later portion of the season. With 18 races, we’re going to do a good job of working with Stewart-Haas and all of our PR, media team, and try to pick the best races.
“A variety of things – we give away hundreds of tickets to veterans, et cetera. We want to pick races where we can do those things and our team members can attend. We try to pick a good, strategic approach to each race. We have more races to choose from this year, so we’ll take the time and pick the best ones going into 2013.”